From just another evening doing homework and watching TV, life as a care-free teen was about to end for ever as Rachel woke to a soaking wet bed – and the realisation she was going into labour.

Rachel Smyth, now 24, is a healthcare assistant, and lives in Glenburn, renfrewshire, with her son Kyle, nine.

“Waking up and realising my bed was soaking, I was petrified. Just hours earlier I’d been doing homework and watching TV, but going into labour that night marked the end of my life as a carefree teen.

I got together with John* at school in April 2009, when we were both 14. He was a bit of a rebel, but also funny and a real softie. After a few months together, I lost my virginity to him, making sure we used condoms.

We were always careful – except once. That was all it took and that September, I discovered I was nine weeks pregnant. When I told John he assured me it would be OK, but I was only 14 and felt overwhelmed by how disappointed my parents would be.

That night, I considered having an abortion, but I didn’t think I could live with myself. A week later, my morning sickness became so bad that my mum Gillian, now 45, rushed me to the doctor. Bursting into tears in the doctor’s room, I told them everything. Mum was initially angry, but then gave me a big hug.

When we broke the news to my dad Alan, 53, he was shocked, but like Mum, vowed to support me and John. My younger siblings, who were 10 and 11, were a bit confused, but took it in their stride.

Confiding in my friends at school, I expected them to be supportive, too. So I was devastated when many of them accused me of attention seeking and said they didn’t want any more to do with me.

While the school said it would do all it could to help, I sometimes caught the teachers staring at my growing stomach as I tried to hide it under baggy shirts and elasticated skirts. Although I knew I’d made the right decision to keep my baby, it was a very lonely time.

In February 2010, my waters broke in the middle of the night two months early. Mum called an ambulance and Kyle was born via an emergency Caesarean section, weighing just 2lb 14oz. John came to visit us at the hospital that same day and as we both cooed over our little boy, we fell instantly in love with him.

Because he was so tiny, Kyle had to be kept in an incubator in hospital for five months so he could grow stronger. I was preparing for my Standards (the Scottish equivalent of GCSEs), so Mum encouraged me to carry on with school, then I’d race to the ward in the afternoon.

However, when Kyle was a month old, John suddenly split up with me. He told me he wasn’t able to cope with the responsibility of being a full-time parent and although he didn’t abandon us completely, his absence from Kyle’s life made me feel so alone.

When Kyle finally came home in July, I wanted to quit school, but then I found I’d passed all my exams so I decided to study for my Highers (the equivalent of A levels), with Mum helping out with childcare. Some nights I felt exhausted. I’d look at Kyle’s tearful face as he bawled for his milk and wonder if I was strong enough to cope.

When I passed my Highers in September 2012, I enrolled on a two-year hairdressing course at the local college. By then, Kyle was two and a half. My parents’ house felt cramped with a toddler so I moved into a rented one-bed flat, which I paid for with student benefits.

Most nights I’d be stuck at home and it was isolating knowing that my friends were out clubbing and having fun. I finished my course in March 2014 and got a job as a hairdresser, but money was so tight I could barely make ends meet. My parents and John’s mum helped as much as they could, but although I made sure Kyle ate well, most days, I survived on beans on toast myself.

We may not have had much materially, but I showered Kyle with love and was so pleased when he started doing well at school. But it upset me that I couldn’t treat him to new clothes and toys, so in September 2017, I went to the job centre for advice.

After being told about The Prince’s Trust, which provides options for struggling young people, I enrolled on a six-week healthcare course because I’d always loved looking after others. And in November 2017, I got a job as a healthcare assistant at a Glasgow hospital, which I adore.