Treading new waters of becoming a mother with an unsupported pregnancy is no easy feat. It is often lonely and frightening. Yet, some walk this path alone; afraid of the shame or the hurtful words or stares that may come if others knew the truth.
When Jennifer Heng (Director of Safe Place) was a teenager, this became her reality and she was lost and desperate. Wanting to offer hope and practical help to girls and women going through the same crisis, Safe Place was born. The mission of Safe Place is to help expectant mothers make life-giving choices within a caring community. Empowered and supported, they do not need to face such difficult times alone.
With permission from Safe Place, here is an article of a social worker reflecting on the experience of being part of the journey with a teenage couple through parenthood.
REFLECTIONS OF A SOCIAL WORKER
It is my first time meeting this teenage couple, Nurul* and Petro*, and I am late. I brisk walk into the gynae clinic, craning my neck to find them.
They look like the most unlikely candidates for parenthood. In a room full of well-dressed women and their husbands, one would wonder if this young pair had somehow wandered into the wrong clinic.
Her dark hair, in two braided ponytails, is streaked in magenta and the orange-gold of faded bleach. She is wearing a short baby-doll dress two sizes too small. I train my gaze on her downcast and teary eyes. Concealed beneath heavy black winged eyeliner and metal facial piercings, there is a quiet beauty in this young woman that my heart aches to connect with.
A young man in ripped jeans sits beside her, gripping her trembling hand. His body is tattooed with expletives, and profanities are scrawled all over his black, baggy shirt. The permanency of tattoos suggest a cry for the eternal. The vulgarities… a need for self-protection and belonging?
I linger for a moment on the spiked leather chains on their necks and wrists. It strikes me that this couple may feel very unsafe inside themselves. Outcast, misunderstood and alone – “it’s us against the world”. Beneath Nurul and Petro’s armoured exterior, I wonder if I will find two small children crying out for love and safe embrace.
Nurul begins to share her story. Coming from a fragmented and abusive family, she felt helpless and lost after finding out she was pregnant. Deliberating hard with Petro, they decided to give parenthood a shot, and somehow got linked up with Safe Place.
Today, the parents hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. The doctor happily announces, “You’re expecting a baby boy!” Both of them leave the room in awe, shivering, joyful and terrified at the confirmation of the new life unfolding in Nurul’s womb.
They look like the most unlikely candidates for parenthood, and yet this baby has chosen them all the same.
I speak to Petro’s mother after the gynae appointment, and she muses that something in her son has changed in the wake of his fatherhood. The walls of his bedroom, previously black and littered with verses of death and darkness, are now due for a fresh coat of white paint. As she speaks, I hear hope for the future, I see possibilities, and I marvel at the courage to begin again. Perhaps this baby is a herald for something new. Perhaps this baby has brought new life not just in himself but for his entire family too.
This is the work of Safe Place. Together with our families, we find hope in impossible places. We forge new paths in places where many may dismiss as dead ends. We love, hope, cry and dream, believing with courage that life always prevails. Always!
*Names have been changed
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you are in such a situation yourself, don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t walk alone.
There are people here to care for you and walk this journey with you.
If you know someone in this crisis, share this valuable resource with them.
Watch the video below and hear the stories of mothers who are the true heroes.
To find out more, visit https://safeplace.org.sg