Sarah thought she had accepted her bulging bum, until a hospital accident shamed her into action. Now, eight stone lighter, her humiliation is behind her…
By Helen O’Brien Google
I beamed up at my husband as the little life appeared on the ultrasound screen.
We already had three little boys together, but we were just as excited as we had been with our first baby.
I loved being a mum – my family was my life.
“I can’t wait,” I said to Gavin and he proudly wrapped an arm around me and kissed me on the cheek.
I met Gavin at school and we had been together since I was 15.
He was good-looking, kind and funny and I knew he would always be ‘the one’.
We married in 2005 when our first baby, Ethan, was two-years-old.
It was the perfect day and I knew it was forever – Gavin was my soulmate and he was the best dad.
I had struggled with my weight for as long as I could remember, and although I had been a curvy size 16 on our big day, I had felt attractive and womanly.
But I couldn’t keep the weight down and my waistline had just expanded further and further with each pregnancy.
Life with three young boys was hectic, there was always a mouth to feed or a mess to clear up.
So I focused entirely on looking after them instead of myself – they always came first.
I would always make sure that they had healthy meals, but then once I’d fed them and got them off to bed, I would be too exhausted to cook for myself.
So most evenings Gavin and I would gorge on takeaways or a quick, high-fat ready meal.
And snacks were my downfall. I would think nothing of scoffing a packet of biscuits or a big bar of chocolate.
I hated my reflection as the pounds piled on, especially as naturally-thin Gavin stayed the same size while I ballooned.
But I told myself it was normal to put weight on when you have children, and I would always vow to diet after each pregnancy.
Only I would last a couple of days before heading straight back to the takeaway menu.
I was miserable about my size 22 frame, so I sought comfort in food – it was a vicious circle.
Photographs were completely off the cards as I made sure I was always the one behind the camera, I couldn’t bear to see bulging body next to my slim friends.
And I was wracked with guilt every time I made an excuse when my boys asked me to take them swimming – there was no way I was letting people see me in a swimming costume.
I knew I was big, but I refused to weigh myself and I buried my head in the sand.
But now in my fourth pregnancy, the weight was starting to cause problems.
With the added weight of the little life growing inside me, I was finding everything a struggle.
“Mummy why won’t you play football with us?” my second son Hayden, now 7, nagged me at the park.
I felt ashamed as I watched the other mums run around with their kids – I couldn’t even walk for a few minutes without getting out of breath.
And to make matters worse, I suffered with severe pelvic arthropathy during the later stages of the pregnancy, which caused my pelvis to move and caused lots of pain and complications.
It was a fantastic relief when our healthy baby boy Ollie was born in June 2010.
“He’s beautiful, I can’t wait to get him home to meet the boys,” cooed Gavin, cuddling Ollie up in a baby blanket.
But my happiness faded as one of the midwives commented on Gavin’s slim figure compared to my rippling rolls.
“Aren’t you an odd pair, how did that ever come about?” she chortled.
I laughed it off, but I felt like crying.
She hadn’t meant to upset me, but I felt so ashamed.
I was like an elephant compared to my husband. Panicked thoughts ran through my head.
Gavin deserves better.
I knew Gavin loved me for me, so I tried to forget the comment and focus on our new arrival.
But two days after I got home, I had to be rushed back into hospital again.
I was in huge amounts of pain, and doctors decided to do an ultrasound to check everything was okay following the birth.
I was dosed up with morphine but just as I was about to be wheeled off to the ultrasound suite, the stretcher bed collapsed under my weight.
One of the metal bars underneath the bed had come apart under my hulking frame and the bed had given way under the strain.
I screamed as I toppled onto the floor and ended up half on the floor with my legs still up on the bed.
“Don’t worry, love, these things happen,” the nurse said kindly as she helped me up.
I was mortified as I was heaved onto a more heavy duty bed.
I knew she was just trying to comfort me – this wouldn’t have happened if I was slim.
It turned out part of the placenta had been left behind, which was a common problem and the doctors quickly solved it and I was soon on the mend.
But there was further humiliation to come as I was told there was nothing they could do about my pelvis problems because of my weight – I would just have to wait for it to correct itself.
Tears streamed down my face when I got back home and watched my beautiful new baby sleeping.
What was I doing to myself?
I finally realised that my weight was a severe threat to my health and the thought of leaving my four boys without a mum was too much to bear.
I knew I had to do something about my weight before it killed me.
So a week later, I decided it was time to face reality and I stepped onto the scales.
I was horrified as I realised I weighed just over 17 stone.
“I knew I was big, but I just can’t believe I weigh this much,” I sobbed on Gavin’s shoulder.
He told me I would always be beautiful to him, but I knew I needed to change.
So I went on my first walk, and although it was difficult at first, I was determined to keep it up.
I walked nearly every day, pushing it a little further each time.
And I ditched the snacks and takeaways – this time for good.
I felt so much better within myself and I had loads more energy and confidence.
But it wasn’t enough and I had hit a wall. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t shift anymore weight.
So I joined a local Slimming World club and spurred on by the inspirational stories all around me, the weight started to fall off again.
I’m now down to a slinky size eight and I feel fantastic when I step on the scales and see that I’m only nine stone.
I don’t need to be ashamed of myself anymore – my life has totally transformed.
I prepare fresh, healthy meals with vegetables every day and I regularly exercise – my fear of the swimming pool is long gone.
Doctors think that my youngest, Ollie, may be autistic and although he is too young for them to know for sure, he still requires my full attention.
But once we’ve got a diagnosis and the support we need to care for his needs, I’m hoping to become a personal trainer.
I feel so empowered after my weight loss that I just want to help others get fit.
I feel like a totally new woman – people don’t even recognise me when I walk past them on the street!
As mortifying as it was, I’m glad that bed collapsed.
Without that humiliation, I may never have been shamed into changing my ways.
I know that I’ll never go back to the way I was – I may have broken the bed but I also broke my bad habits.
We arranged for Sarah’s story to be published in That’s Life magazine, with two follow-up pieces in the Sun newspaper. She got to show off her amazing weight loss three times – and she was paid three times too! If you’d like to share your before and after photos in the press, check out our guide to selling a weight loss story. You can contact us using the form on the right, and we’ll talk you through the process.