“You’re six months pregnant love” Pt. 2.

I went outside and tentatively lit up a cigarette. Should I be smoking? If I was pregnant would it at least be respectful to the foetus to not smoke whilst I still was, even if I was planning on termination?

Unfortunately the stress of that day and the addiction to nicotine meant I lit another one, I hadn’t processed a thing and I wasn’t yet ready to consider quitting.

Listening to the ringing sound a feeling of dread came over me and I found myself transported to my childhood body, having stolen some chocolate from the cupboard and watching my mum go through the bin about to find a wrapper that I’d buried it’s depths. I’m not sure if it was because I desperately needed her guidance or if I just felt so vulnerable but I was extremely frightened of what she would say. Me, a twenty-four year old adult, thinking her mother would ground her or take her pocket money away for doing something silly. My Dad picked up.

“Hi Mousie, How are you?”

“Fine, thanks Daddy. Would you mind if I spoke to Mum quickly?”

“Hello Darling, what’s up” Oh god, my heart was pounding. Quick puff of the fag.

“So you know when we went to the hospital and I did a blood test, a lady called me from there today whilst I was at work and she told me there was a hormone in my blood that meant I had to take a pregnancy test.”

“Right.”

“And well I just took one and it says I’m three weeks pregnant.”

“Okay, do you want me to come over?” Yes, yes, yes.

“No it’s okay.” Desperately wanting to seem mature I rejected her offer. “Matthew and I are going to get another test just to 100% make sure that the results are what they are and then I need to call this lady back tomorrow and tell her what it says and then go from there. I don’t think there’s anything you can do right now but thank you.”

The conversation moved a little further before we rang off, she wasn’t mad at me. Why would she be mad at me? I was her child certainly but now I was her adult child. My actions were my responsibility. Matt and I got in the car and made our way towards the supermarket when I got a text. ‘We are coming over, see you in 20 minutes’ – Thank god. I really needed to see my parents. I needed someone to talk this through with and someone to tell me what to do if possible, Matt had still only managed a few words at this point and I was doing my best to keep my mouth shut so as not to overwhelm him.

Trotting around the supermarket Matt and I held hands, we held hands as tightly as we could. He was letting me know he was here for me and I was asking him to help me keep moving as I was starting to lose any sensation in my legs. We picked up another test. Matt clearly being ashamed of our predicament insisted that we take it to the self checkout so as to avoid the cashier trying to work out if we were happily buying this pregnancy test or not. I scanned the test and was quickly screwed over by some age authorisation bullshit. The self checkout machine started yelling at us over and over again and finally a spotty youth strolled over. He was too young to authorise the test and leaning his head back he opened his rather large mouth and called “Sue! Sue! Can you come and authorise this pregnancy test for this lady please.” Needless to say, we had drawn an incredible amount of attention to ourselves and everyone queueing behind us was trying to ascertain if we were happy with our purchase. Heads down and poker faced we scuttled out.

My parents shot into the car park soon after we got home. A sharp intake of breath let me know that Matt was super nervous. Quickly reminding him that the likelihood of my father, a bloke who is often mistaken for a pretty camp gay man, deciding to beating him up was very slim. His method of torture would be piss-taking and mockery, which is possibly even more painful. My parents marched up to the back door, hugged us both tightly and we got talking. We spoke about all the different possibilities of how this could have happened, was it even true or was it cyst hormones showing up in my pee. The plan of action was to call the GP the next morning and get an emergency appointment and go from there. My Dad’s suggestion was to call The Sun and sell my story of an immaculate conception as I was clearly still a virgin. One of the less original Dad jokes.

The next morning came and I called the GP’s surgery, I explained my predicament to a rather snotty receptionist who openly let me know that she thought I was a complete moron and whom, after some serious haggling, reluctantly gave me an emergency appointment. She also revealed that rather fittingly my original GP had now retired and therefore I was assigned to a temporary one. Dodged a bullet that one.

I was petrified, Matt still in bed I took a very long time getting ready. I ensured my make-up looked good and that I was wearing a half decent outfit so the doctor didn’t think I was a complete eejit. Next thing I knew I had somehow driven myself there and I was sitting in the waiting room, willing the clock never to reach 11.20am. The doctor came out at 11.24am and called my name, I followed her into her office and took a seat. Wrapping my coat around my tummy I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out. Instead of words from my mouth tears from eyes started pouring down so silently and so quickly that I was soon tasting them. The GP handed me a tissue and told me in very certain terms that I needed to calm down and try again otherwise she would be unable to help me. As quickly and coherently as I could I explained what was going on and that essentially I had not has a period for six months (PCOS) and had just produced three positive pregnancy tests. Her eyes widened, she deduced in seconds that this wasn’t good news for me and that we were in a very serious situation. She turned to her computer and typed frantically for a minute or so, hitting the print button and ripping the paper out of the machine and on to her desk she picked up the phone.

“I’m calling the hospital” she quickly explained “we need to get you in for a scan as soon as possible.”

On the phone to the hospital she may as well have been shouting ‘mayday! mayday!’ she approached it with such emergency. Realising that she was picturing the worst case scenario and that in fact I could be as many months pregnant as the amount of periods I had missed my throat closed up and salty water drops appeared again, shoving themselves unceremoniously out of my tear ducts. Her phone call was over, grabbing a huge marker pen she wrote ‘URGENT’ on the top of the sheet of paper and faxed it over to the hospital. I was to await a call from them. Then her question came.

“So if you are pregnant, what is it you would like to do?” I stared at her, was the answer not obvious? Look at me, I’m far too young, far too poor and far too much of a fan of gin and tonics to be a mother. I told her that Matt and I had already discussed this and we wanted a termination, although this was untrue, Matt wanted a termination and I was entirely unsure. I knew that I would only know how I felt if and when we found out there was a baby growing inside of me. My heart was already breaking at the thought that I’d make a decision to dispose of a new and innocent life.  She wrote down a phone number on a slip of paper and told me that I were to ring it as soon as I got out of there. It was an abortion clinic and they would be able to give me both a diagnostic scan and a termination afterwards but that I should make an appointment asap as they were an extremely busy place. Sympathy then flickered over her face and she looked me right in the eye.

“I just want to let you know, that in my many years of experience as a doctor I have rarely seen ladies who have been fully happy with the decision to abort their babies, 80-90% of women regret it. Now good luck, I really do hope this all turns out well for you.”

Stunned by this comment I shuffled out of the surgery and into the winter sun. Looking at my phone I saw a text from my mum, she was going to meet me at the usual coffee place in 20 minutes, thank god. Rolling up a fag (still clearly in denial) I marched over and dialled the number of the abortion clinic. They were experiencing a high volume of calls and I would need to hold for an indefinite amount of time. I hung up and walked into the coffee shop, ordered a large Americano to go and went and sat outside, pretty much chain smoking at this point I called them back and sat on hold. Seven minutes passed and finally a lady picked up, I explained to her what I wanted and she told me that she would be asking me a series of questions and that I had to answer them honestly and to the best of my ability. The quiz began and a stream of personal and uncomfortable questions came my way. A few minutes passed and my Mum walked up, I finished the call soon after with a dating scan and abortion booked for next Thursday, a whole week away. I had booked an abortion as easily as one books a table at a restaurant, the autopilot mode I had found myself in was making some pretty huge decisions.

Realising swiftly that I could not wait a week to find out what was going on, I phoned the hospital. I spoke to a lady who had literally just pulled my fax out of the machine and after listening to me wail at her vowed she would do all she could do to help me. She booked me a dating scan for 1.20 pm the coming Tuesday, that was slightly better.

I looked up at my mum who had that look on her face that all mums do, so full of love and security that I instantly burst into tears. I wanted her to take control like she used to and grab my upper arm and steer me in the right direction, but she wasn’t going to. She was letting me fly on my own and make my own choices and decisions regarding the most serious issue that had ever come my way. She knew that for anyone else but myself and Matthew to hold responsibility for any actions taken from then on would be wrong, it had to be us.

I was still not entirely convinced that I was pregnant at this point and looking back I was clinging onto the words on the pregnancy test leaflet that said that there was every chance that conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome could result in false positives. I had spent so long dealing with the condition that like my GP I was refusing to look any further. I had been told that ‘when you know, you know’ and these words kept going round my head, I wasn’t a stupid girl, I was perfectly well educated. There was absolutely no way in hell that I could have missed this huge thing. I decided to go into work the next day and told my colleagues that the chances were that this was a false positive. I attended the New Year ‘do’ for work, ignoring the fact that I had had to buy a dress two sizes up because my stomach had been rather ‘bloated’ recently and got fairly hammered in a desperate attempt to forget all I was facing.  The next morning Matt went to football and I went downstairs and lay down on the sofa under my duvet, my flatmate had had her boyfriend over the night before and as we’d come home I’d heard them laughing with a couple of friends in the living room. I’d burst into tears instantly feeling so embarrassed and too fearful to look at or speak to anyone that I’d run upstairs to hide. Half praying that her boyfriend had gone home at this point so that I wouldn’t have to look at him and answer the silent questions that beamed from his eyes I waited for her to appear. Luckily she appeared before he did, and as soon as I saw her all of my hungover emotion poured out. We had lived together for so long, what if this was the end of it all. What if I was about to have a baby and change everything forever. What if I was about to lose her. Tears came again and she climbed onto the sofa with me and hugged me so very tightly I didn’t want her to ever let go – she couldn’t see that there was any possibility that I could be pregnant either. We would have noticed something! This was all some horrible nightmare and it would be over very soon.

And after a few days that felt like years, Tuesday 17th January arrived and it was time for me to go and be handed my sentence. I’d either get away scot-free, or be handed a minimum of 18 years to life.

 

 

 

 

“You’re six months pregnant love” Pt.1. 

The road to finding out I was pregnant was decidedly bumpy with several pit stops. Yet somehow it all blurs into one whenever I think about it. I’ve had many a moment when I felt like I was unable to comprehend it all and therefore felt like a failure. Luckily, during these moments my mother holds my hand and kindly explains that what I have been through is borderline traumatic and most women would be found rocking in a corner by now.

As I have previously mentioned, my treatment for PCOS continued, my weight stayed the same and things were looking bleak. I returned to the GP with one last attempt at begging him to do something to help me out, my periods had now stopped and I was experiencing abdominal and pelvic pain. Not to mention I was becoming increasingly anxious about every day things, driving to work was awful and whilst falling asleep I would picture myself toppling down the stairs to my death, usually naked. I was really struggling. I’m sure you spotted just then when I said my periods had stopped and thought AH HA, why didn’t the silly cow take a test? I did take a test, as soon as I skipped the first period I whipped out the ol’ Clearblue and the words not pregnant looked back at me. I wasn’t with child.

Besides, at each appointment with the GP, he happily put everything I was experiencing down to PCOS. No period? PCOS. Abdominal pain? PCOS. Weight issues? PCOS. Mental instability? PCOS. The list goes on.

One thing was happening however, the GP was starting to listen to me, or so I thought. The harsh reality is that he never listened to me. Otherwise he may have suggested I do a blood test and none of this would have happened. I’d also have bugger all to write about -so swings and roundabouts. Anyway, it seemed like he was listening to me. He prescribed me Metformin to try and bring my periods back, gave me some sleepy loony pills and referred me to a consultant at the hospital who would tell me why my ovaries were rebelling.

I booked my appointment at the hospital and the nearest one wasn’t until January, I had three months to wait. And three months I did wait. I waited so very patiently for all that time, that any further symptoms were put down to polycystic ovaries and mostly ignored. There was one particular symptom though that desperately unnerved me, not too long before I was due at the hospital I started to feel a funny pulsating feeling on the left side of my lower abdomen, right at the bottom. It didn’t happen all the time but it certainly was peculiar, this fluttering bothered me so much that at my next appointment with Dr. Denial I brought it up. His explaination? PCOS. Apparently, one can grow a cyst so large that it creates its own vascular system and what I was feeling was the blood pumping round it. Such a large cyst that it’s now taking up a baby sized amount of space as it snores in its pram next to me…

So I think you hopefully have the gist. How did I not notice? PCOS, and a slightly crap GP.

The day of my hospital appointment arrived and I was incredibly nervous yet excited. I was finally going to find out what on earth was going on and get fixed! Hurrah. The appointment occurred two hours after it’s scheduled time in true NHS fashion and was actually rather disappointing. Turns out, my GP hadn’t ever really written notes about my experiences and therefore the consultant was forced to get me to start from the beginning and waste a serious amount of time. One thing she did want from me was a blood test, to check many things but mostly my hormone levels. See if this cyst issue was presenting itself clearly in my blood. So my mum and I scooted over to the blood lady, she took three vials of the stuff and we went home, feeling slightly deflated but at least we were on the right track.

A day passed and I found myself sitting at work, typing away and my phone rang. Odd number, I didn’t answer it. If it was important they’d leave me a voicemail. They left me a voicemail – multitasking my way through I checked this message. Phone half to my ear a lady explained that she was calling from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford on the behalf of my consultant and she needed to discuss my blood test. It wasn’t urgent, but could I give her a call back.

CANCER. That was it, I definitely had cancer, and I was going to die so fat that no one would be able to lift the coffin and I’d have to be brought in on one of those things they use for lifting boxes in a warehouse. But it wasn’t urgent? Cancer is pretty urgent right?

I called the number and the lovely lady answered the phone.

“Ah hello Catherine, thank you for calling me back. I needed to speak to you because the pregnancy hormone hCG has presented in your blood and we require a test from you.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand?”

“There’s a hormone that has shown up in your blood. We need you to buy a test and call us back with the results. Don’t worry too much, if it’s negative it means one thing and well if it’s positive that means another.”

I put the phone down and turned to my colleague next to me, she’d clearly heard the tone of the call and looked at me in rather a concerned way. I burst into tears. There was no way I could be pregnant! My GP had told me I was near enough infertile, I’d joked about adopting 400 dogs and living a life parent evening free. My fresh and carefully put together personal development plan for that year was sitting next to me on the desk waiting for my manager’s sign off. I WAS going to lose the weight and I DID have a huge cyst and no, this wasn’t real. Still in incredible denial at this point, I did a quick google, realised that cysts can show up as false positives on pregnancy tests and told myself to wait until the end of the day. Grab a test and go home. Luckily, my even more concerned at this point colleague shoved me in her car, took me to boots and forced me to buy a test and go home early. Dawdling as much as I could, I texted my boyfriend telling him I had finished early and was coming to see him.

Horizontal. Horizontal is the word I choose to use to describe my boyfriend. If he had sent me a text saying he was leaving work early and coming straight to mine because we needed a chat I would probably have wet myself and attempted to meet him midway on the central reservation of the dual carriageway to ensure we could discuss whatever it was as soon as possible. Luckily, this guy was half asleep after a night shift and just replied with an ‘okay, see you soon’.

Opening the back door to his flat, there he was, rubbing his eyes in his dressing gown looking super sleepy and rather bemused. I burst in. Immediately explaining everything that had happened and that I needed to take a test and that I could be pregnant but I also might not be and do we even have enough sex really and I’m on the pill so it’s all okay and obviously we have options so don’t freak out I will sort this. I don’t think I got so much as a blink in response, he hadn’t even listened. My only option was to bellow at him in a rather uncouth way “I MIGHT BE PREGNANT”, and then he sat up.

Another thing my boyfriend is really good at is not reacting precisely when one needs a response. So I scuttled into the bathroom, I peed on the first stick of this super high tech pregnancy kit and waited three minutes. It was inconclusive. Fab. I don’t think it quite needed the pressure jet I had supplied it with. Re-reading the instructions I saw that you can actually dip the test in the wee to produce a result. Innovative as I am, I slurped a few gallons of water and found myself one of those little GU pudding ramekins and had another go in that. Matt had woken up a little more by then and this time came with me into the loo and waited for three minutes next to the test whilst I drip dried with anticipation. Something flashed up, his face didn’t change. “Matt, what does it say”. Nothing. “Matthew what the hell does that thing in front of you say!”… he just kept staring. Panicking I launched myself off the loo and whilst in midair his little voice found its way out with “Pregnant, it says pregnant”. A further minute or so and it clarified that I was only 3 weeks gone. Fine.

We looked at each other, I had never seen his eyes look so big and his skin so pale. He was petrified, I grabbed him and pulled him as close as I could. It would be fine, we weren’t ready for a baby. We were allergic! And anyway the test said three weeks, three weeks is rectifiable. An abortion was entirely an option and most likely the route we would choose. We sat down together on the sofa and let it soak in. That’s when the funny fluttering started again… thinking back to a slightly happier time when I had joked “the baby’s kicking” referring to my pesky cysts my mind started reeling. Feeling my face go red I quickly and slyly googled ‘When do you start to feel a baby kick?’. And there it was.

‘Monitoring your baby’s movements. You’ll usually start feeling some movement between weeks 16 and 20 of your pregnancy, although it can sometimes be later than this. These movements may be felt as a kick, flutter, swish or roll’ said the NHS website. No, nonononono. I could not possibly be THAT pregnant, but those movements. They were so aptly described. I picked up the phone and called my Mummy.

The Wriggler.

Finding out I was pregnant was shocking to say the very least. I was given a three month (max) preparation period and was demanded to shake off my allergy to babies and fall in love with a stubborn little bean that despite any amount of gin, white water rafting, heavy lifting or violent dancing had clung on inside me and chosen me to be his keeper.

Was I to feel an instant connection to this little human? At the time of discovery he was way too big to even see the gender, everything was to be a surprise for us. Who was this person? Were they safe? Did I love them? Did I want them? Who knew. The only thing I did know was that beneath all the shock came shining through with a fire of passion a need to do everything within my power to ensure that from that day on they were not to be harmed, not to be alone, not to feel sadness if it were in my power or ability for them not to. From that day, that hour, that moment, I became a mother. 

And so I continued – and tried to do my best to get to know my unborn child. I started to speak to the baby, started to sing to it. I didn’t know what I was doing, I had gone from rejecting my physical appearance to embracing it, to touching and caressing my belly. To letting my other half see it, stroke it and kiss it for the first time since we had been together. It had gone from the worst part of my body to the best, in the space of a few hours. I went from ignoring every pain and discomfort that I had previously diagnosed as cysts, to enjoying the ebbs and flows that came with the baby’s movements. We created a character – and soon enough – the baby became ‘The Wriggler’.

The Wriggler fast became a pretty good friend of mine, it’s hard not to get to know someone well especially when you spend all your time with them. Wriggler slept mostly when I was awake, always in the car and often when out and about. Wriggler had its fun when I was trying to sleep – always. Partying until the AM. Wriggler was cheeky, and a fighter. Wriggler would push its feet and hands against my desk at work if I leaned too closely and would hiccup it’s way through important meetings and push on my bladder whilst on sales calls. Wriggler did whatever was inconvenient and I loved that – I loved that already my baby felt independent, my baby felt wilful. I was proud and I hadn’t even met them. 

My boyfriend and I would meet at the end of a working day and he wouldn’t just ask how my day had gone he’d also ask how Wriggler was – did Wriggler have a good day? I wasn’t sure if the guilt born from not being aware of our baby’s existence was the reason why, but we fast became obsessed. Every movement, every time my belly grew, each new sensation was spoken about at great length. At times I became too frightened to sleep, so wanting to make up for lost time that I felt I should always be ensuring that the baby was happy and okay. Monitoring our new prized possession. 

The personality we created was everything to us,  The Wriggler was not a morning person, was definitely cheeky, stubborn and had an insanely sweet tooth. The Wriggler also loved Ed Sheeran, I would sing ‘I’m in love with the shape of you’ at the top of my voice and my darling would jig along inside me in response. 

The creation of The Wriggler felt crucial to our success – The Wriggler had not chosen to exist and it was our job to ensure that we were the best parents we could possibly be, that our baby was loved and knew it. The fact that I felt that I had been neglectful meant I had so much making up to do and each day I promised this to Wriggler. I woke up each morning and would declare – ‘I love you my angel, Mummy will always take care of you’. My eyes would fill with tears and I would go about my day ensuring every move I made would prolong my fulfilling that promise. 

The Year Before. Pt.2.

And so the run up continued. I continued – just this time I had been branded with PCOS. For those of you who don’t know too much about polycystic ovarian syndrome, welcome, because it really doesn’t seem like anyone does. So here is the definition taken from the NHS website:

“Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work.

The three main features of PCOS are:

  • irregular periods – which means your ovaries don’t regularly release eggs (ovulation)
  • excess androgen – high levels of “male hormones” in your body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair (see signs and symptoms below)
  • polycystic ovaries – your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) which surround the eggs”

And the symptoms:

“If you do have signs and symptoms of PCOS, they’ll usually become apparent during your late teens or early twenties. They can include:

For me, PCOS meant rather a lot. Initially, it explained why I had been struggling so much losing weight, why I seemed to have more facial hair than bigfoot and why suddenly my skin had gone from perfection to a complete war zone. My body was continuously rebelling against me and I had no control. 

Being the fat girl is never fun. Sitting with your slender friends with a side salad whilst they chomp away on burgers and chips and undoing the buttons on their size 8/10 jeans after they finish, claiming resemblance to a beached whale is less than pleasant. Especially when you go out afterwards and you’re the one who looks like she ate all their burgers combined and the chef. But enough about how crappy a few extra stone can feel and back on to how I ended up in such a pickle.

So after months and months of dieting and by dieting I mean, smoothie diet, juice diet, gluten-free diet, protein shakes, weight loss shakes, 800 kcal a day diet, no food past 6 diet, coffee diet coke and cigarettes diet. All topped off with a shed load of exercise. I started to lose a little weight. Nothing as satisfying as I had experienced before but certainly something noticeable. I had a big family holiday planned for mid June and I desperately wanted to look good for it and by god I worked so hard. By the time the holiday came round I had lost around 12 pounds in total and was feeling slightly better about myself, it was nowhere near my goal but as my hormones were constantly fighting against me it really was the best I could hope for.

So we trotted off on holiday, me, my mum and dad, my boyfriend and my brother and his insufferable girlfriend (happy to say they are no longer together) to Puglia, Italy. We were exposed to the sea, the sun, beautifully healthy Italian food and a heap load of fun and exercise. It was perfect! And it was on that holiday that I had my last period.

Now for someone who doesn’t have existing issues with their ovaries, period problems may prove to be quite worrisome or troubling. The truth was that for me, a missed or late period was a common occurrance and more of a nuisance than anything to be concerned with. So this particular period started as mine usually do. At an inconvenient time, just after our plane landed, finding myself armed only with skimpy white clothing and not a tampon in sight. Something I have always been aware of but admittedly never adhered to when travelling abroad is what I had considered an absurd ruling around placing tampons down the loo, I just didn’t understand why. This villa had such the same ruling, and in true Betsy fashion I decided to ignore the polite notice and throw a tampon down the downstairs toilet and flush away. Away it did not go. The next morning being awoken by a slightly concerning smell of poo riding on a sea breeze and up my nostrils I quickly realised something was wrong. Peeling my burnt and lobster like skin off the sheets I popped my head over the balcony to see a few men and an open man hole cover. Ah, my tampon. Shit.

I then saw my Father having a rather heated discussion with these men in i’m not sure what language. No way could his daughter have blocked the whole plumbing system, she was nearing her mid twenties and would know better than to be so lazy as to not throw the tampon in the bin. Oh no she wouldn’t. Feeling four again and desperately trying to think of an excuse I army crawled back in to my bedroom to await my fate. Ohhh he was pissed. Luckily, my brothers girlfriend arrived shortly after and my dads attention was shifted onto her annoying voice and incapability to share, anything.

Looking back now, I most probably would have forgotten this particular period and the drama surrounding it had it not been my last.

That, and the fact that I saw evidence of it again the other day on a pair of bikini bottoms I had neglected to unpack when we returned. Classy.

 

The Year Before. Pt.1. 

Context is always a useful tool when trying to fathom and grasp onto a story whilst it’s being told. Without context one can often misconstrue or misinterpret and I would hate for anyone to do that with me and my tale. This is why I have chosen to supply you all with a little prelude, as it is crucial considering what follows.

The year or two running up to my pregnancy were tough – I had never had any health issues before, bar recurring cystitis. And therefore the only medical disturbance I had encountered was that feeling of pissing razor blades whenever I had forgotten to pee after sex. Encore cranberry juice.

However this luxury wasn’t to last long. Despite some of my time at university being a very proud skinny streak. I have always struggled enormously with my weight and physical appearance. Whether I have overeaten, under eaten, or been victim to cruel episodes of body dysmorphia my body has constantly changed. My weight yo-yo-ing up and down has been something I was very used to. It was also always something that deep down I knew I was in control of and could do something about. As successful as I was at putting it on, I was just as successful at losing it. And as all good things must do, this skinny streak ended, but for once I could not fathom why. Had my lifestyle changed? Was I waking up in the middle of the night and going down to Perfect Fried Chicken and ordering a Number 5? What was going on? All I knew was that I was stuck working behind bar after bar pulling pints and 16 hour shifts all the while expanding at a rate of knots. I had found myself in a relatively long term rather abusive and manipulative relationship and I was becoming precisely what he had always told me I would be, fat and unlovable. Needless to say I was desperately unhappy.

This extra weight was carried around for a few months and my mental and physical well being only got worse, I was in my darkest place yet. I made the decision to move from my beloved London back to Oxford where I had predominantly been brought up and ‘turn over a new leaf’. I did so by leaving the horrible boy behind and moving in with my absolute best friend and soul mate in the town where we had gone to school. I secured myself a bang average but promising job and threw myself into healthy eating and exercise. I decided to become Betsy again.

We had a fantastic time to say the least, both single and good looking girls (my body was starting to improve – ish) we made the most of each and every hour spent away from our desks and living together. The only cloud still left looming over my head was that of the number of the scales and the size of my waistline. I really was doing my best, I was eating between 800-1200 calories a day, attending the gym and several boot camps for weeks and yet the pounds just weren’t going.

My frustration at this was getting worse and worse, I upped my exercise and cut down calories. To the point where I was so light headed and grumpy, chuffing away on cigarettes and drinking so much coffee my bowels rejected even themselves and yet nothing was working. I was in dire straits with no where to look and no answer.

Then one night my best friend and I were watching our usual shit on TV, I was sitting there in my gym clothes having devoured a delicious dinner of fuck all and my stomach started to really hurt. I complained as one does and we both put it down to trapped wind, it would pass. However it did not, she went to bed and I attempted to do so too until I found myself green/grey in colour, cold sweating profusely and throwing up in the loo. I was scared. 3 am came and I couldn’t take it anymore. Remembering my mums words to the nurse at school, ‘don’t call me unless she’s in the morgue’. I reluctantly picked up the phone and called my parents.

To my surprise the days of them not believing when I was ill had passed, whether age had gained their trust or the fact that I had called at 3 am clearly in a tizz had done it I don’t know but soon they were knocking on my door ready to take me to hospital. The next few hours were confusing to say the least, the doctors could see I had an infection but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was, a laparoscopy was needed.

They carried out the surgery and deduced that I had had several cysts on my ovaries that had all burst, infecting my appendix and all the while causing me excruciating pain.

PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Those four letters that answered so much, yet would throw such a thick blanket over everything none of us would think to look past it. Not one.