Real Life

My gastric bypass baby

Stepping on the scales at the doctor’s surgery, Alexia Bryan felt her heart sink when she saw how heavy she was. And the doctor’s words were to confirm her darkest fear – at 130kg, she was simply too fat to become a mum.

“If you get pregnant, you’ll be putting your own health at risk,” the doctor told her. Alexia (25) of Ngaruawahia, had tried many times to shed the kilos over the years, but without success. Now her size threatened the happiness of both herself and her husband Shaun Bryan (27), and their shared hopes of parenthood.

She knew she had only one option left – to have a stomach stapling operation. As she was so big, she knew the surgery carried extra risks and the recovery would be hard. But these were risks Alexia was willing to take to have a baby of her own.

Alexia gained a massive amount of weight when she hit puberty, and despite being an active child and not eating excessively, she says she was still the biggest girl in the class.

“Even though my parents took me to the doctors, they couldn’t figure out why I kept putting on weight,” she says. “In my teens, I turned to drugs and alcohol to try and block out the painful existence of being teased and picked on at school.”

Despite feeling depressed about her size, Alexia found love with Shaun when the couple met as teenagers. Alexia was grateful that Shaun was non-judgmental and fell in love with her whole-heartedly.

“He never pushed me to lose weight and loved me for who I was,” she says.

But when the couple married three years ago, Alexia was so self-conscious about her size that she suffered a panic attack on the way to the wedding.

“When you walk down the aisle you expect to be this radiant blushing bride, but instead I felt I was this big fat whale,” she says.It was not long after the wedding that the couple talked about having children. After trying for a while without success, they visited a fertility specialist who found that Alexia had cysts on her ovaries and was producing hormones that made her gain weight easily. The condition, called Polycystic ovarian Syndrome, was one she had had all her life, but it had never been picked up.

“That’s why it was so difficult for me to lose weight. I was told that it would take me three times the effort of an average person to slim down,” she explains.

The surgery was her only hope of reaching a healthy size. As she didn’t qualify for the public system, Alexia decided to pay for it herself. Three years ago, Alexia finally went under the knife, praying it would spell the end of her obesity nightmare.

“I had to see a nurse, doctor, psychiatrist and psychologist, just to make sure I was up for the surgery,” she recalls. “It’s definitely not the easy way out for heavy people that some think. It’s major surgery and afterwards is even harder.

“The next year was hell, adjusting to not being able to eat what I wanted or to veg out after a hard day with a bar of chocolate! I lost 12kg in the first few weeks and over the next year I lost around 50kg. I had to work to keep it off as you can actually put the weight back on. But I was determined not to let that happen because the baby was our goal.”

Alexia had to refrain from getting pregnant for a year after surgery. But when she finally hit 80kg, she was told it was okay to start trying.

“I was taking pills to help me ovulate properly and nothing was happening for months. The week that doctors suggested I try IVF, I found out that I was pregnant,” says the full-time mother.

Carrying a baby was a breeze for Alexia, who felt lighter and more comfortable than she had in years after dropping from a size 26 to a size 12.

Little Lucas was born at Waikato Hospital last year and from the moment Alexia held her son in her arms, with Shaun at her side, she knew it had all been worthwhile.

Lucas recently turned one and Alexia, still a slim and healthy 79kg, has no trouble keeping up with the active toddler.

“He is a wonderful little boy,” she says proudly. “It’s done wonders for my marriage. I have Lucas and I know that Shaun loves me.

“Even though the surgery was an emotional and physical rollercoaster, I love being a mum and it’s worth every sacrifice that I went through.”

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