Meet the Durham second year with a seven-week-old son

She breastfeeds Teddy in lectures


When I first call Anna to learn about her life juggling parenthood and studying at Durham, she cuts the call short.

“I can’t really talk,” she said, giggling. “I’m in a changing room. He’s just been sick all over me so I’m sorting that out.” I hear Teddy, seven weeks and a day old, laughing in the background.

It’s obvious Anna enjoys parenthood. She speaks with exuberance and enthusiasm, not weighed down by the stresses of a life seemingly divided in two, as a student and a mother. To make matters more chaotic, she didn’t see him coming.

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“I was shocked. We certainly hadn’t planned him and we weren’t trying at the time.”

Theology student Anna Edwards has lived in Durham all her life and is married to her husband Nathan. They met at church when she was in sixth form, aged 18, and he was a third year of a Maths degree at Durham University.

“He thought I was a first year. By the time I turned 18 he plucked up the courage to take me out, but he still asked my dad John first.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I called him, but he was a typical man and asked me to call him back. He was absolutely thrilled and also a bit scared.”

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They bought a house soon after the wedding, and Teddy was conceived when Anna was 20.

“I was in my first year when we found out and gave birth to him on December 14 2014. My parents still don’t believe that we didn’t plan it but they’re smitten with him.

“Everyone at uni was excited for me. I tried to keep it a secret as we hadn’t had the scans, but I couldn’t stop myself from telling people so they all found out eventually.”

While you were busy revising for your exams, Anna was suffering from the worst of her morning sickness. Anna was forced to quit her exams after she threw up in one.

“My exams coincided with the height of morning sickness. I was supposed to do six, but only ended up doing two. I threw up in one and had to leave another to throw up.

“The uni didn’t know what to do with me at first as they just hadn’t dealt with someone like me. It’s unusual. They had no changing facilities, no maternity leave, no nursing in place. It took a long time to going back and forwards to get their head round the situation.”

Anna’s plans of a dream birth were cut short. She had to be induced and kept in hospital for five days. But the presence of the doctors was a relief in the end she says.

“I planned a big home birth, bought a pool and had loads of fairy lights. I went in on the last day of term so at least I made it till then.”

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Anna and Nathan want more children but will wait till she finishes her degree.

“My main concern was not finishing my degree. It’s a stressful existence. At times during the pregnancy I just wanted to give up and drop out.”

Teddy can’t go to nursery yet. He is taken to lectures and even the pub with Anna, and his feeding often dictates her schedule.

“He comes everywhere. He’s even been to a 21st birthday. I’m breastfeeding at the moment but I feed him before  lectures so he’s asleep during them. No one has said anything to me about breastfeeding.

“They’ve invited me to sit at the back because they think I might be embarrassed or want to protect my modestly. It think it’s an attempt to protect other boys who might feel uncomfortable.

“One boy came over to stroke his cheek in the SU when I was feeding. It was very funny when he realised what I was doing and wouldn’t stop apologising. I didn’t mind.

“A lot of boys have trouble separating boobs and sex, especially the christians. They think they’re not allowed to look.”