Hi my name is Emily, my husband Chris and I have two gorgeous children, 5 years old and 1½. This is our story to show people that yes we are young, yes we are married, we have two beautiful children & we have full time jobs, but there’s been so many challenging times too.

I grew up with my 2 brothers and sister. Ever since I can remember my dad has been really sick with Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anxiety and Depression plus more. He was always in and out of psych wards, this was challenging for all of us. Dad had good days and bad days. I’m 25 now and find it difficult to be around my Dad and struggle with his moods. There is a little bit of resentment, not of him, I resent the illness, but I do love him. Mum has always been the peacemaker and would give you anything and do anything for anyone and she still does.

Meeting Chris

Chris came from a family of 8 and never known his dad. His mum struggled with being a mum, so he was looked after by his Nan and Pop since he was 3 days old. Chris disliked school and by 14 was on drugs, drank a lot and left in Year 8. His Pop wanted him to get a job so he tried the military but didn’t enjoy it. Chris then completed Year 10 schooling at the local resource centre, which was great for him to be around older people. Chris and I met as his sister was my best friend, I was 18 and he was 23. At the time Chris says he pretty much had given up on life and suffered depression and was hanging with some crazy people and when he met me he said this changed. I was living with mum 3 hours away, so Chris and I chatted on FB and the phone. After a few months Chris moved into mums and he worked at the butchers. The next few months we saved some money, got a car and moved in together.

Having Our Kids

Chris and I always talked about having kids early. We wanted them young so we had lots of energy and we were ready, so by 19 I was pregnant. We were both so happy but the joy changed quick when I had horrible morning sickness every day, I even called my mum saying I wanted an abortion (glad I didn’t). I was in and out of hospital and was always so hungry. You have this vision of how pregnancy is going to be, but turns out completely different, I vomited all the time. I lost so much weight and only weighed 43 kgs, I didn’t gain weight the whole pregnancy. I am short and with not weighing much I got lots of strange looks by many people and I always felt judged when I was shopping with my Mum

My labour was fast and went well so I came home the same day. K was so beautiful, but she was a difficult baby, she cried all the time and was waking 4-5 times every night. Chris was exhausted because he worked full time and so we moved back to mums and she helped us care for her. We have always been lucky to have great support from both my mum and sister. Not everyone has been supportive though, when we had K in the bank and she was crying someone said “Why aren’t you at home” and when Chris was holding her in the street another person said, “You’re not holding her properly”. Some people are nasty, we just didn’t take that on board.

The Ups & Downs

Parenting is really challenging, Chris and I both struggled with post-natal. I got it because Chris left his job and I was worried about money. I was sleep deprived and really emotional, Chris was so supportive. I had extreme anxiety in the first year of K’s life and didn’t want to go out or see people. I finally saw my GP and once treated with post-natal depression things started to get better. If you feel this way don’t be ashamed to seek help.

Chris and I were so excited to see K crawl, walk, get her first tooth and say her first words. The love we got from her was amazing, these are the great parts of being parents. Our relationship has always been great, but we have had our ups and downs like any relationship. In 2017 we got married and it was one of the happiest days of our lives. We also had our beautiful boy R the following year and I had a great pregnancy; my body must prefer boys. We really hoped R would be different and sleep, and he did, thank goodness!

My Challenges

Every single day my anxiety gives me self-doubt, negative thoughts or that I can’t do it, but over time I am working on keeping my mindset positive and remind myself of everything Chris and I have achieved. I always thought as a teenager that I would be on Centrelink forever, that I was not good enough to get a job. It was when I decided to go to a younger mum’s group where I met other younger mums and was mentored by awesome people that I started to believe I deserved more than this. Being told that you can do this and connecting with positive people gave me the push to do better for me, Chris and our kids. I got my first job last year and worked for 9 months as a cleaner. It was a good feeling being able to provide so Chris didn’t do it all and it made me feel good. 2020 has brought so many challenges with Covid and lockdown, my Oma passing away and my Auntie passing away not long after, all made things so tough, 2020 balanced itself out when I got the full time job I applied for, where I’m supporting families too.

The Future

We want our kids to grow up in a loving environment that we have worked for. Chris and I work hard on our relationship and aren’t afraid to ask for help. Communicating is such an important skill in a marriage and we have an open mind and no judgment, We have done marriage counselling, sex therapy and I see a psychologist. We love making goals and achieving them. We both stopped smoking a year ago, brought a car and saving for a house. We make sure we stay around a positive group and avoid negativity. We spend time together eating dinner at the table every night, these little things are what’s important to us as a family. Some days are harder than others and we both think of picking up a cigarette or alcohol, but then we think about our goals and don’t.

The most important things we have learnt as parents and being married is ask for help when you need it, you don’t have to do it on your own, and gain as much information as you can. I accessed a lot of community centre short courses and brought it into the marriage. There is always someone or a service who are there for you!