Real Life

Claireabelle Burt’s baby blessing

The Timaru social media star is over the moon about being a mum
Selina Nunn

Claireabelle Burt knows how it feels to experience fear, from almost dying as a result of eating disorders to undergoing life-threatening surgery. But the scariest moment for the Timaru social media sensation was being told she was miscarrying her unborn baby.

At 10 weeks pregnant, Claire thought she would lose her and fiancé Charlie Satele’s much-wanted first bub after entering hospital with bleeding and hyperemesis, a severe and serious type of morning sickness.

Luckily, it was only a scare for the bubbly blonde, 31, whose Instagram page Life Of A Binge Eater – which documents her journey with bulimia, binge-eating disorder, recovery, weight-loss surgery and skin-removal procedures – has over 35,000 followers.

On 13 September, Claire and Charlie, 27, were overjoyed to welcome their beautiful baby girl Lulu, who had big brown eyes and weighed a healthy 3.1kg.

To their surprise, little Lulu also arrived with a melanocytic naevus, a large mole on her forehead that has earned her the affectionate nickname “Unicorn” because of its placement. While the new parents quickly accepted and fell in love with their daughter’s unique mark, which only one percent of infants are born with, it wasn’t long before fear set in again for Claire, who was told it could be cancerous.

“My pregnancy was an emotional rollercoaster,” she shares. “A month before we found out we were pregnant with Lulu, I had a miscarriage and we were told it could take ages to get pregnant again. It was exciting when we found out we were, but there was a lot of anxiety around losing her.”

After Claire’s miscarriage scare with Lulu, she was in and out of hospital having fluids since she could barely keep food and water down. Each time, Lulu’s heart showed signs of distress and, at 28 weeks pregnant, the first-time mum was advised that her baby might need to come early because she had stopped growing.

Balloons and bliss at the gender-reveal party.

“I had to get scans every week for six weeks, then she finally had a bit of a growth spurt, so they kept her in until 37 weeks,” recalls Claire, who had a Caesarean section. “Lulu is a tough cookie and made it through. When she came out and they brought her over to me, I couldn’t see properly without my glasses, so I thought I saw a big patch of dark brown hair.”

It was only when Claire put her glasses on that she saw her daughter’s naevus. Because it could turn cancerous, Lulu is booked in for a biopsy, plus appointments with a paediatrician, dermatologist and plastic surgeon, in January.

“It was a big shock when I saw it, but Lulu wouldn’t be her without it,” smiles Claire, who weighed 170kg when she had gastric band surgery in 2020 and went on to lose 92 kilos. “The hair growing out of the naevus is thick and dark brown, while the hair around it is light. I think she looks so cute!

“But when I heard it could be serious and cancerous, I just started crying. Charlie and Mum were trying to comfort me. I was thinking, ‘My poor little girl’.

“Luckily, at this point, with the way it looks, they’re saying there’s a very low chance of it turning cancerous.”

The couple and Claire’s mum Kate dote on Lulu.

The couple’s happy bub is thriving and growing each day, and Claire has loved watching her truck driver partner, who was previously in the army, as a natural, loving dad. Together, they’ve made the decision not to remove Lulu’s naevus unless there’s a medical reason.

“It can be a very intense surgery and we’ve put her on health insurance in case we need to go private or anything, but it can be her choice when she’s older,” says Claire,

“Giant naevi can be dangerous because they have little satellites that can go into the brain or form around the lungs. We don’t know yet if she has any satellites, but we’ll find out next year.”

With plans to marry, Claire’s hoping to wed in Rarotonga, where she lived for a year in 2017, working as a singer in a bar and restaurant. She’s excitedly anticipating a little flowergirl dress for Lulu, who came two weeks after Charlie proposed at Lake Tekapo in August.

“Charlie took me for a picnic by the water and suggested we get nice photos together, and he set up the camera as a video,” she recalls. “We were posing and being silly, and got into an argument about who loves each other more!

“Then he said, ‘No, I’m pretty sure I love you more and this is why,’ and he pulled a ring out of his pocket. He said really nice things, like how excited he was for us to become three, and it was so special.”

Claire immediately said yes as her fiancé has been her biggest supporter, including during pregnancy, when her body dysmorphia and the trauma of her past eating disorders crept in.

It was an instant yes from Claire when Charlie popped the question.

“We planned to have a baby and I was so ready, but I knew pregnancy would be hard for me,” confesses Claire, who had surgical lifts to her breasts and pubic area in 2021. “And it did affect me a lot mentally seeing my body change and clothes not fit.

“I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that I wasn’t gaining weight, but instead a baby was growing inside me. I’d get really upset, so Charlie would sit and tell me it’s normal.

“It was also hard to come to terms with having to eat more because it reminded me of when I was at my heaviest and would binge eat.”

Although Claire worried pregnancy would trigger her to binge, it didn’t and she bounced back quickly, fitting back into her pre-pregnancy jeans two weeks after birth! She admits her past issues with body image play on her mind as a new mum, especially with a daughter.

“I’d never want Lulu to go through what I did with bullying for being overweight and having an unhealthy relationship with food,” the doting mum says. “But it’s something I’ll have tools for if I notice any signs and I’ll show her my healthy food relationship now. I’ll also tell her every single day that she’s beautiful.”

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