A woman has told how she defied doctors by becoming a mum twice – after losing eight stone when she was warned she was too fat to conceive.
Katie Newman was just 21 when she was diagnosed with the hormonal condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and told that, at a size 22 and weighing 18st 7lb, she would need to lose weight to fall pregnant.
But, after three years of yo-yo dieting, inspired by an episode of TLC reality show My 600-lb Life, the office manager took drastic action – booking in for £5,000 gastric band surgery, which saw her shed eight stone and have two daughters, Hollie, two, and Lucy, two months, with her electrician husband, Anthony, 32.
The 31-year-old, of Hedge End, Southampton, said: “Without a doubt the gastric band enabled me to have children. If I hadn’t had it done I might not have my girls.
“With the PCOS and my weight combined – it would have been next to impossible to conceive.
“As much as they drive me crazy, I love my girls.”
She continued: “It was the best £5,000 I’ve ever spent.”
When irregular periods led to her seeing the doctor in 2010, at 5ft 2in, Katie had a body mass index (BMI) used to measure a healthy weight of 47.6 – far higher than the NHS recommended range of 18.5 to 24.9, which meant she was classed as extremely obese.
After blood tests revealed she had PCOS, which stops the ovaries from regularly releasing eggs, not only did doctors say that her weight would make it very difficult for her to conceive naturally, but she was also warned she would be unlikely to qualify for NHS fertility treatment unless she slimmed down.
Describing herself as a “glutton for junk food,” she said: “I never really worked out what my trigger for overeating was. I always enjoyed fast food and takeaway.
“At school I was bullied for being chunky, people would call me this and that – mainly something to do with being fat.
“I think for some people, being bullied about your weight makes you do your best to lose it – I did the opposite.”
She continued: “I remember turning 18 and realising I weighed a stone for every year of my life and that, if I carried on gaining weight at the same rate, I’d be dead before I was 30.”
After being diagnosed with PCOS, Katie – who was already seeing Anthony – was told that, according to NHS experts, losing just five per cent of her body weight could improve her symptoms.
She said: “Doctors said PCOS couldn’t be cured, but that if I lost weight it could really improve my chances of falling pregnant.”
Turning to a concoction of different diets, for the next three years she would fluctuate between 16st and 18st – often losing two stone, but then gaining three.
“I tried all the usual diets but nothing worked,” she said.
Everything changed after she watched My 600-lb Life one night in 2013.
“I mainly used to watch it to feel better about myself,” she said.
“Then, during one episode, someone had a gastric band fitted, which involves putting an adjustable band around the top part of your stomach, so you can’t eat as much
“Suddenly, I thought, ‘This is for me.’”
Booking a consultation at a private clinic in Birmingham in the New Year, by March 2014, she had decided to put £5,000 from her savings into having weight loss surgery and was being prepped for a gastric band operation.
Discharged the next day, Katie noticed the results immediately.
“I felt like I’d woken up and done 65,000 sit ups,” she said.
She continued: “I still had the same hunger pangs, but I could only eat about half as much as before and cut out snacking completely.”
Katie, who now eats three well-balanced meals a day containing a total of around 1,000 calories, saw her weight “slowly and steadily” reduce until, when Anthony proposed in November 2015, during a 10-day trip to Dubai, she weighed just 14 stone.
She laughed: “We were on a desert safari, which was incredibly romantic, but I was also raging because I had no signal and couldn’t share the news with anyone!”
Weighing 13st 7lb at her wedding dress fitting in April 2016, by the time she walked down the aisle that December, her frock had been taken in from a size 14 to a size eight.
She said: “I cut out anything remotely bad for me and was also seeing a personal trainer four times a week, I was so determined to look amazing.
“I never dreamed I’d be able to wear a strapless dress, as I’d always been so embarrassed by my arms.”
She continued: “But I felt like a real princess.
“My hubby was certainly shocked by my transformation, but I think it was my commitment that really blew him away.
“He always says he’ll love me no matter what size I am.”
She continued: “My best friend weighs 8st 7lb and I always say, I’ve basically lost one of her.
“I’ve also noticed a huge difference in my confidence. I’ve always been the life and soul of the party, but it was a bit of an act before and now I don’t have to pretend.”
In mid-2017, a check-up at the doctor’s revealed that Katie’s hormone levels had regulated and, better still, less than a year after tying the knot, she discovered she was pregnant.
“I was on my lunch break, suffering with really bad period cramps and thought I’d give a test a go,” she said.
“I was so shocked when it came back positive that I told my best friend at work before Ant!
“It was a few weeks before Christmas, so I unwrapped one of his pressies and put the positive test in there.”
She continued: “We were laughing with shock all day – he didn’t even notice any of his other presents.”
The couple celebrated Hollie’s arrival in August 2018, only to fall pregnant again in October last year.
“That was definitely a surprise, albeit a welcome one,” laughed Katie.
She continued: “I’d been on a massive bender and was convinced I had a four-day hangover, but then the penny dropped and on June 22 this year, I gave birth to Lucy.”
Settling into family life, Katie claims if it was not for the gastric band, she never would have fallen pregnant.
A trim 10st size 12 before she had Lucy, she said: “There’s no denying I’ve gained a bit of baby weight, but I’m not fixating on that right now.”
She concluded: “I know I’ll get back down to my goal again sooner or later.
“I’m just grateful to have my two little miracles. It might have taken more effort than most for me to become a mum, but I wouldn’t change things for the world.”