Real Life

Real life: “I was too fat to get pregnant”

Brisbane mum Helen, 39, had to shed almost 30kg to realise her dream of falling pregnant.

I started putting on weight when I was a teenager.

Whenever I felt down I ate junk and I could easily eat a large pizza, a litre of soft drink and a tub of ice cream.

Then I’d put on more weight, feel depressed, eat more — it was a cycle.

I had no confidence. Every time my girlfriends went out, they wore beautiful clothes and I felt like a frumpy ball.

Often I’d stay home and would turn to my good friends – the fridge, pantry and local 7-Eleven.

At my heaviest, I weighed about 96 kilos and was a size 22.

My back, knees and ankles ached.

When I tried to go for a walk, I got halfway round the block and felt like I was about to pass out — so I’d go home.

Because I felt uncomfortable going out, I’d make friends on a telephone chat line instead.

I was more confident when people couldn’t see me.

That’s how I met my husband, George, in 2002.

By then I’d lost some weight and when George flew from Brisbane to Melbourne for our first meeting, I was 86 kilos.

We had a long-distance relationship until I moved to Brisbane to be with him.

We married in 2004 and I lost another few kilos then.

We lived in a hilly part of Brisbane in a Queenslander-style house with lots of stairs.

Those stairs and hills helped me lose some weight — but it wasn’t enough.

It was my life’s dream to have a baby, and soon after we married we tried to start our family. But nothing happened.

George and I were forever congratulating friends who’d had babies and I wondered if I’d ever feel that joy.

I became depressed, put on weight again and ended up at about 94 kilos.

My periods became heavier and longer and I had severe cramps.

After a year of trying for a baby I saw a gynaecologist who said I had cysts on my ovaries.

She also found polyps in my uterus and some endometriosis.

She drilled holes in my ovaries to allow more eggs to come out when I ovulated and she also told me losing weight would improve my chances of pregnancy.

That was the motivation I needed to slim down and not long after that I saw an advertisement in a local magazine for a weight loss program.

The program promised to help with weight loss and improve your health so I decided to try it.

I started to lose weight, felt more energetic and became very motivated to stick to the eating plan.

I reached about 67 kilos and was close to my goal weight when we went out to dinner with friends one night in 2007.

That evening I had an overwhelming craving for ice cream and I didn’t know why.

I’d resisted my cravings for so long.

I piled my plate with healthy food instead but the ice cream craving wouldn’t go away.

It was so bad I had to leave the restaurant early. Then I started to wonder…my period was a couple of days late…

A few days later I did a home pregnancy test.

George was going away on a business trip and he was rushing around looking for shirts and socks when I called him into the bedroom and said, ‘I think you’re going to be a daddy’.

I burst into tears and he couldn’t believe it.

I did another two tests before I dared believe it was true.

When I saw my obstetrician he said losing weight had helped me fall pregnant.

He said the ovaries often become inflamed and don’t function as well when a woman is overweight.

I had morning sickness and got gestational diabetes but being slimmer helped me cope with pregnancy because I had more energy.

And I felt so lucky to be having a baby at last.

We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or a girl.

Whatever God blessed us with was fine with us.

Nikolas was born at 35 weeks and he was the most beautiful bundle I’ve ever received and I love him more and more every day.

He’s a little sponge who wants to absorb everything.

I went up to 86 kilos after Nikolas was born — I was adjusting to motherhood, George was working long hours, and I wasn’t eating well.

But when my bones started to ache, my ankles and knees were sore and picking Nikolas up became an effort I knew what I had to do.

I wanted to be a mum who could run around and play with her child.

So I went back on my weight loss programme and now I am 62 kilos.

I take my boy to the park and we go on the slide, climb on the jungle gym and roll around on the grass together.

I’m full of energy for Nikolas.

I was also a finalist in a Slimmer of the Year competition. That was a huge boost to my confidence.

I didn’t win the title but I didn’t mind because I have Nikolas — the best prize of all.

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