Cradling the baby she never knew was growing inside her, 13-year-old Charlotte Maddox still cannot believe she is a mum.
For months after sleeping with a boy of 15, she dismissed fleeting ᴘᴀɪɴs as a tummy bug and thought she was “a bit podgy” because of overeating. Her parents noticed nothing unusual. Then, two weeks ago, racked in ᴘᴀɪɴ, Charlotte went into labor with baby Sophie, and at last the astonishing truth dawned.
She said, “I was screaming in ᴘᴀɪɴ and shouting, ‘I’ve got to push something, it’s coming! That was the first time I realized I was pregnant and about to become a mum. Suddenly the ᴘᴀɪɴ disappeared, and I was in total sʜᴏᴄᴋ. The next thing I knew, I was hearing Sophie scream for the first time. I was so relieved she was safe. Then it suddenly hit me that I was a mum.”
“My whole life had changed in three hours. I went from feeling a bit poorly and worrying about my homework to holding a newborn baby in my arms and worrying about a young life. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I kept thinking, ‘This can’t be true, this isn’t real’. I can’t do long division but I can make a little person. It doesn’t seem right at my age.”
Her disbelieving mother, Samantha, 35, who arrived on the scene as Sophie writhed in ᴘᴀɪɴ, shared the overwhelming sʜᴏᴄᴋ.
She said, “I lifted her shirt, saw this tiny bump, and suddenly realized what was happening. I just shrieked, ‘Oh, my God!’ and called an ambulance. I was stunned. Gobsmacked. I keep asking myself how I didn’t notice Charlotte was pregnant. But even she didn’t know.”
Today, Charlotte has no desire to see Sophie’s father. She said: “I don’t want him involved in looking after her. I don’t think he even knows about her. He wasn’t the nicest boy in the world, and I think we’re both better off without him. I don’t regret having sᴇx, but I do regret what has happened. We should have used protection, but I didn’t know enough.”
Over the next nine months, her weight hardly changed. She said, “I never had morning sickness, and Sophie made just a tiny bump. I thought I was a bit podgy and put it down to eating too much. When my periods stopped, I thought I was coming down with an illness and waited for them to start again. I guess I hoped the problem would go away if I didn’t think about it.
She said: “Sophie’s now the most important thing in my life. I regret what’s happened and wouldn’t do it again. But I don’t regret having my baby. I’ll just love her as much as I can.”
Charlotte is too young to receive child support but can rely on the support of her loving parents. Her mother said: “We’re fighters. We don’t have an easy life, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure Sophie gets everything she needs. People will judge us, but we don’t care. Charlotte didn’t get pregnant while in our care, and we’ll stand by her through thick and thin. She’s our daughter, and we’ll love her whatever happens.”