Be Still, My Heart
Be Still, My Heart is a documentary project about teenage mothers in South Wales. Britain has one of Europe’s highest rates of teenage pregnancies and in the eyes of society this is still looked down upon.
Marta was interested to meet young girls and help them tell their stories through photos and interviews. From as early as 16 the young women become brave mothers who fight to defend their dignity with a humbling maturity. Meeting them gave Marta a positive insight into a situation that is sometimes regarded as a ‘mistake’; the perception of young motherhood is usually generalised into negativity as statistics are used to form the overview of a failing society. But such perceptions and generalisations do not tend to correspond with the experiences and feelings of the young mothers, they incline to be proud women who have sometimes experienced domestic hardships but nonetheless decided to go through with their pregnancies, even though nearly always advised not to, and who now consider their children their saving grace.
(Please note the interview text does not relate to the photograph it accompanies as Marta wanted the text and photography to remain anonymous).
My boyfriend and I had agreed that I wasn’t to have the baby because I was only 17, so we were in duration of an abortion. We had been together for eight months then and we were living together. I had had a massive argument with my mother and she kicked me out, his mum wasn’t too impressed about taking me in so we took it upon ourselves to get a property, not that we wanted to do that, but at the time we didn’t really have a choice. Then, literally after a fortnight, he died in a motorbike crash. The police said it was his fault even though it wasn’t. He was an only child so that’s why I decided to keep the baby in the end, and I called him after my boyfriend.
I found out I was pregnant about 3 weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had actually just gotten together. I was really nervous and frightened, but the idea grows on you and at first I was scared but I knew straight away there was no way I was gonna get rid of it or anything. We still don’t know the gender but I hope it’s a girl. We like the name Lila.
It’s going to be a boy, but we broke up. He’s not who I thought he was, he didn’t want any of it. The whole way through our relationship he was with other girls and I didn’t know it. I just don’t know what’s going on with him. He’s always at the skate park, he doesn’t work or do anything with his life.
I wanted a cattery in my back garden, that’s what I wanted! The only reason why I ever slept with my first child’s father was because I really wanted to be with him and I thought if I don’t do what he wants me to do he’s not gonna be with me. I was 15 and still in school. We’d been in a long relationship, he said we should keep the baby and then all of a sudden he just messaged me saying, “I don’t wanna be with you any more”, which broke my heart because I’d kept her and everything and I was going through a rough time. I really needed someone and he just… but yeah… it’s just life.
I got pregnant the first time at the age of 15. A lot of my family were telling me to get an abortion because I was such a wild child, constantly going out, drinking, but I decided to keep him. Later on I couldn’t cope with his behaviour so I handed him over to my mum and then I got pregnant again at 18.
At first, when I found out I was pregnant, I freaked out. I was scared but I was so happy at the same time, I was really excited. My boyfriend and I had been together for two years and he had always wanted a baby with me. He acted like, “Oh, this is brilliant,” but he didn’t stop taking drugs and I was gonna protect my child no matter what my feelings were, so even though it was hard I had to break up with him.
Marta Giaccone completed an MA in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, in 2014. She is currently based in the UK and Italy. Her photographic work and research has mainly focused around issues concerning family and youth, with a main interest in the feminine perspective.
You can see more of Marta’s work here.
James O Jenkins