The teenage mother did not learn the reality of birth until the age of fourteen.
Despite the many challenges she faces, Chloe Dohert’s dream of becoming a teacher has come true.
For the first time since the statistics were compiled, the number of teenage girls giving birth in Northern Ireland fell below 500 in 2020, compared to 1,170 in 2001.
Chloe, now 21 and originally from cholera, overcame her fears by telling her parents about her peers’ reactions and how she overcame obstacles and flew into her sophomore year of college, learning to become a teacher.
He said: When I heard this I kept thinking, my life is over, what will my family say? It’s “what will people think of me?”
“I remember everyone in the school hallways whispering about me, people who make Instagram profiles and call them ‘TeenMum2017’ and post pictures of their pets.
“I was too afraid to go to school, but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to become the teacher of my dreams, even if I wasn’t going to do it alone.
“No woman had ever been pregnant, but rumors spread. The words that hurt me the most were ‘tavara’, ‘simple’ and ‘whore’ because only I knew I was having sex for the first time, which made me pregnant, and it could have happened. This is easily for the other girls who called me in. These are the names, but that didn’t happen.
Nine months into carrying the baby, Khloe gave birth to a son named Seadach, and she was expecting more challenges.
She said, ‘I refused to leave the house in uniform when my child was with me because I felt uncomfortable. It has always been seen as a ‘child raising a child’. I did not dare speak of the life of a mother in school, which, without looking back, I should have shared .
“Despite all that judgment, I knew I only cared about one thing, and that was my child: If he thinks I’m a good mother, that matters.
“Adapting to becoming a mother wasn’t a big deal, I grew up surrounded by kids and had the support of the best family around.
“I hated just second-guessing my decisions and what I was doing with my little boy.
“Trying to juggle this new home with school life and adolescence was difficult, especially since I didn’t want to leave the child as soon as he got home from school, probably because I wasn’t with him during the day.
“I had to sacrifice one and it was a simple decision. I said goodbye to my teenage years and social life and focused only on school and my new boyfriend. My sleepless nights and waking up to school the next morning weren’t perfect, but I did.”
Chloe is now in her second year at Stranelles University.
He said, “I was able to live a wonderful life with my mum and school. I left education with 10 GCSEs, all grades A and B. Then I went to another school and was able to get A level 3 with grades A*, A and B.
“I am now in my second year in Stranmillis, Belfast. I am studying International Relations after primary school, so I am close to realizing the dream I had when I was 15, which is to become a teacher.
She said, “I’ve been recognized as one of Colleen’s ‘teen moms’. I look back and think how proud I have been all these years.”
School Age Mother Coordinator Adele Fulton was part of the project that helped Chloe work with the Department of Education.
She said: “SAM provides guidance and support to schools, families and other stakeholders/professionals to ensure that young women who wish to continue their schooling while pregnant or childbearing can do so.
“The young women I was helping had no intention of becoming pregnant. They and their families expressed very overwhelming feelings of fear, shock, rejection, anxiety, confusion and the future in general.
“I wish Chloe success in her studies and in her life. She is a wonderful mother and I have no doubts that she will be a wonderful teacher.”
Kara Hunter, MLA at SDLP, believes that any stigma associated with teenage pregnancy should be a thing of the past.
“Any stigma surrounding teenage pregnancy must be rooted in the past,” he said. “We need to provide comprehensive health, education and financial support services and create a positive environment for both mother and child.”