BABY ONE DAY, HSC THE NEXT
By NERIDA BLOK
BETH MULDOON took her HSC Family Studies literal- ly ? the 18-year-old gave birth to her first child three days before her exams.
However, despite the close timing, Beth and fiance Brent Anderson had planned the pregnancy.
Last Friday, the Ballina couple welcomed 3.6 kilogram Lucy after a 24-hour labour.
On Monday Beth sat her first English exam. And the previous Wednesday, she got her P-Plates.
"And I had to fit study in between," she said.
The elated but exhausted Trinity Catholic College Lismore student spoke about her experience yesterday from the Lismore Base Hospital where she is recovering.
At her side was 19-year-old Brent, a third-year apprentice baker at Martin Hot Bread in Ballina.
"It was hard to concentrate but it was a good exam," she said.
"Brent looked after her. He's been great, he's been really supportive throughout the whole thing. I don't know how I would have got through it without him.
"We went off the pill months before but it was a shock to have her so close to the exams," said Beth.
"They always say you're late with the first one, but not with Lucy, she didn't go with that rule."
The couple, who live together in a rented unit in Ballina, said their parents and Beth's school had been very supportive.
"School was actually really good," said Beth.
"They treated me like a normal student. I went to school like normal. They arranged my exams so I had special provisions. I had unlimited feeding breaks."
School friends too have been supportive.
"They're all excited," said Beth. "They think it's amazing."
Beth said she didn't know what to expect of motherhood, but so far it was agreeing with her.
"She's really good," she said of Lucy.
"You just feed her and she goes to sleep."
But she said she was a little concerned at how other mothers might respond to her.
She said she had completed a project on 'teenage mums' for one of her HSC subjects, Community and Family, which found young mothers received little support.
"I talked to a number of teenage mums in the area and they don't go to mother's group," she said.
"They don't feel welcome. They feel the other mums are looking down on them."
"I suppose it depends on the mothers in the group but I'll give it a go."
Brent said he had taken one month off work to help Beth look after Lucy and when he returned to night shift work, he said he would share the parenting by babysitting during the day.
He said he always wanted to start a family young.
"I'm the youngest of nine children," he said.
"All my brothers have had kids ? there's 15 in total."
Next year Beth said she hoped to study primary school teaching at Southern Cross University.
The pair also plan to wed in 2006.