The size 10 shop assistant took the hold-it-all-in swimsuit out of the bag and held it up, blocking out most of the light in the process.
‘What’s wrong with it?’ she asked.
‘It’s too small,’ I said, embarrassed.
‘Too small? So you want to swap it for a…size 22?’ she boomed.
I nodded, my face reddening as Harley wailed in his buggy.
Five minutes later, it was still bright red as I dashed from the store clutching the replacement swimsuit, totally humiliated.
Why had Danny arranged this stupid weekend? I thought to myself. Then I wouldn’t have to go through all this…
I’d always been overweight, hovering close to 14 stone and a size dress size 16. Everyone in my family was…larger. But then, when I fell pregnant with Harley, I’d really stacked it on. I’d always sought comfort in food and especially now I was pregnant as there was a strong history of miscarriage in my family.
Forget eating for two, I ate whatever I could get my hands on…none of it healthy. Pepperoni pizzas dripping with cheese, greasy takeaways and family size chocolate bars became my daily diet. And it showed.
‘Are you sure there’s not two babies in there?’ friends would joke at my expanding girth.
Even my family were vocal about my size: ‘You’ve piled it on!’ they’d gasp.
But I brushed off their comments. The way I saw it, I was eating to keep my baby strong – and to keep my mind off my fears.
Too tired to cook, I grabbed whatever convenience foods I could. Everything from packed sandwiches to takeaway and ready meals. And with each mouthful, I could dampen down my worries…at least for a little bit.
Yes, it meant getting around was hard. I was tired, out of breath. So I took it as a sign that I needed to rest more, whiled away the days lid on the settee or in bed watching TV and munching on junk food.
‘Special delivery!’ Danny would cry as he came home after work and dumped a load of chocolate bars into my lap to try and cheer me up.
‘Thanks Darling!’ I’d beam. ‘’Forget flowers, you know what makes me happy!’
Mum was the same. ‘Get some cake down you, girl!’ she joked, handing me a huge slice whenever I went to visit.
But not everyone found it funny. Being so overweight meant that my pregnancy was fraught with weight related problems. With a BMI of 38 I was classed as obese, my blood pressure and blood sugar was through the roof, and I developed gestational diabetes at four and a half months.
My consultant was worried about the size of my baby, a little boy.
‘He looks very big on screen,’ the radiographer noted.
As a result, I had regular scans every two weeks. Every time, I felt like I was being chastised for being a bad mother.
‘Look what you’re doing to your baby,’ the midwives seemed to tut.
I felt awful for being so fat that I was putting my baby at risk. But truth was, even though I was ashamed and embarrassed, I didn’t know how to change. I didn’t know how to control my eating. I’d always eaten whatever I liked.
By the time I was 37 weeks, I weighed in at a dangerous 18 stone. I was so unwell and my baby appeared to be so large, both our lives were at risk. They decided to induce me. I was terrified.
‘We’ve no choice,’ the doctor said. ‘We need to get him out.’
Danny was there as I was wheeled down to theatre for a C-section. I was petrified. I prayed that my baby would be OK, promising how I would change my ways for good if he didn’t have any problems as a result of my bingeing. Because I would never forgive myself if…
‘He’s absolutely perfect,’ Danny soothed.
And he was, all 8lb of him.
Relief pooled. Thank God, he was alright. He wasn’t even that heavy, really. Still, he was closely monitored and while a reassurance, guilt bit hard.
‘Things are going to change around here,’ I promised little Harley. ‘Mummy’s going to get fit and healthy so that she can give you the best life possible.’
And I tried, I really did. Only it was so hard, and I was so, so tired.
So as the weeks passed, despite my good intentions, my eating only got worse. I’d even sit there stuffing my face with chocolate during Harley’s night feeds, telling myself that I needed the sugar rush.
But deep down, I knew that I was failing my son. I avoided taking him to mother and baby groups, afraid of what the other mums would think of me and I got out of breath just playing with him. My self confidence was at rock bottom.
‘Why are you even with me?’ I asked Danny one evening when Harley was six weeks old. ‘Look at me. I’m a rubbish mum.’
‘Stop being so hard on yourself,’ he said.
Yet even though he was trying to be understanding our relationship was suffering because I wondered how on earth he could find me attractive.
‘I love you,’ he said simply.
But I refused to get undressed in front of him and we hadn’t had sex since Harley was born.
‘You’d be better off without me,’ I told him. ‘Maybe you should just leave.’
‘Don’t be silly, babe,’ he told me.
But I wasn’t being silly. I honestly didn’t understand why he was with me. I was a big fat mess.
‘Surprise!’ Danny said a few days later. He’d arranged a mini break in the Lake District to mark our three-year anniversary.
My first thought was panic – who’d look after Harley? He’d only be two months’ old.
‘Relax. Your Mum’s already said she’ll have him,’ Danny said.
But then, as Danny went on, I realised I had a much bigger reason to worry….
‘The lodge where were staying has a hot tub!’ he said excitedly. ‘How cool is that?!’
It didn’t sound that cool actually, in fact, it sounded terrifying. Because for the first time in ages I was going to have to get my body out in front of Danny…
Which is why I was now panic-buying a swimsuit. A swimsuit I had no desire to be seen in so I’d failed to try the two-small one on in the shop in the first place.
I knew I was being ungrateful.
‘You’ve got a wonderful man there,’ Mum said as she came to collect Harley. ‘Have fun!’
And I did try, I really did. But all I could think about for a lot of the time was whether the bubbles from the top tub were hiding my vast body.
Back home a few days later, I was sat watching TV while Danny was upstairs when my phone beeped with a notification from Facebook. As I grabbed it, for a minute I couldn’t believe my eyes. Danny had only gone and tagged me in a photograph he’d uploaded taken while we were in the hot tub!
It was so unflattering. Bulges escaped from my swimsuit and rippled out into the water in waves. I was devastated. I puffed upstairs.
‘Please delete it!’ I said tears pooling.
‘But why?’ he said, genuinely surprised. ‘We had such a good time.
‘I look like a whale!’ I sobbed.
You look fine,’ she replied, confused.
‘Fine?’ I cried. ‘That’s the last thing I look!’ There was fat spilling everywhere…
We had a furious row. He just couldn’t see it from my side at all.
‘You need to get a grip of yourself,’ he said angrily, stomping out of the house.
It felt like the final straw, that this time we really were over.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised this could be it: my turning point.
I signed up to The Cambridge Weight Plan weight loss plan replacing all food with shakes. I had to wait four weeks until Harley was 12 weeks old before I could start.
‘Shakes?’ Mum scoffed. ‘You’re going to be starving!’
But it had to be all or nothing. I didn’t trust myself to cut down on portions so it seemed simplest just to cut out food altogether.
It was hard, so hard. But after that first week, I had lost 5lb. It gave me the push I needed to continue. The net week I was down another 4lb, then another…
After five weeks, I was two stone down and life seemed to get just a little bit easier. With less flab to haul around, I could enjoy Harley more.
And Danny and I were getting on better too.
‘I’m so proud of you,’ he said. He’d even started eating more healthily to spur me on,
Gradually, as I started to incorporate solid food back into my life, I realised how important it was to give Harley the best start food-wise. I started weaning him on fresh fruit and vegetables even making my own purees. I didn’t want him to end up like me.
And as he ate everything, I started to think that I really could do this: be a good mum.
Now, seven months on from being tagged in that awful photo, I’ve gone from 18 stone to 11 stone and a size 22 to a size 10. I’ve never looked, or felt, better. But it’s about more than just weight loss, it’s been a lifestyle change for the whole family. Mum has even followed in my footsteps and lost an impressive three stone.
And in building up my self esteem, I’ve saved my relationship in the process. Danny and I have never been closer and he loves the new me.
Yes, I could have killed him when I saw he’d tagged me in my swimming costume, but thanks to him it gave me the push I needed to do something about it. Danny is proud of me but him posting that photo was just the beginning, all the hard work came later.
I’m a better mother and partner since losing weight and won’t let myself get fat again. I know Danny and I would’ve ended up splitting if I hadn’t lost weight because I just couldn’t believe he loved me because of my confidence issues.
Now Danny can post all the pictures he likes on Facebook because I am finally happy with how I look. And for me, that’s massive!
Fore more information visit http://www.cambridgeweightplan.com/?gclid=COvi2e3w0tACFQaVGwod0l0HVA
Breakfast – bacon butty
Snacked on chocolate, crisps, biscuits
Lunch – skip lunch
Dinner – takeaway or hue pile of carbonara, chips or fried food
Breakfast – wholemeal bread and egg
Chicken salad for lunch
Chicken and vegetables or spaghetti Bolognese made from scratch
Snacks – an apple