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'Anorexia is like suicide, if you're pregnant it's like murder'

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Jennifer Tracey | 18:03 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009

Sarah Wallington made a recent contribution to the Your News feature. She told iPM about undergoing tests to see if 11 years of anorexia had left her infertile. Sarah then introduced us to another woman who believed that eating disorders had ended any chance of having children.

Lara and Tamsin

When you meet Lara Wadey (pictured), it's hard to believe she was in and out of 13 different treatment centres for bullemia, anorexia and heroin addiction. All before the age of 25.

It's harder still to comprehend how eight weeks before she discovered she was pregnant she 'died' of a heroin overdose. Her heart stopped and doctors didn't think they'd be able to revive her.

Everyone was shocked to learn that Lara was pregnant, most of all her. But according to Lara, Tamsin, now aged 4 (pictured), helped save her life.

"Doctors told me for nine years that I couldn't have children, because of what I put my body through. Not just anorexia, but the years of bullemia as well. Because you're underweight for so long your periods stop. Mentally, I prepared myself that I would never have children.

I was living with a nurse who had taken me in from my last treatment centre. She was pregnant. Another housemate of ours, another nurse, was also pregnant. Part of me felt left out, not that I necessarily wanted a baby. I just did a random test, having found one of my friends' tests... and I sort of saw a line on it.

I was in shock.

I went out and did about five more tests. I called my father and just said: 'You're going to be a grandfather.' He said: 'But you can't have children!' I said: 'I know!'

Being through eating disorders and drug addiction, for the length of time I did, no one thought I was mentally prepared to be able to even cope with pregnancy - let alone raise a child - when I couldn't even look after myself.

I took the changes to my body day by day, hour by hour.

With anorexia it's like a slow suicide. You are killing yourself through not eating. But if you carry on during pregnancy, in a way it's murder. I bred rabbits when I was young. My parents said: 'Would you not feed you rabbits?' 'I guess I would feed them,' I replied. 'If you'd feed your pets, why would you not feed your baby?'

As I got bigger, I had permission to eat, as I was feeding something else. It wasn't society saying: 'Oh look! Lara's got fat!'

Because I was eating right my skin improved, my nails, my hair. Everyone was giving me compliments, saying that I was 'blooming'. That gave me confidence to carry on doing what I was doing.

At first, I tried to not to think about too much about passing on my anxieties about food to to Tamsin. But as she got older - aged two or three - she started seeing what goes on, what she eats, what mummy eats, what they eat at nursery, what her friends eat. When a child starts making comments they're much more open and honest than an adult. If we were having dinner one day she would say: 'Mummy are you not eating that?' She would force me to look at it.

The nine months of pregancy was a practise nine months of eating, doing it myself, in the real world. Seeing my daughter made me want to carry it on.

After she was born, all the nurses - everyone - asked: 'Is she using? Is she eating? Is the house clean? Is the baby being fed?' After six months, I proved that I could tick all the boxes. Absolutely fine. Fit, healthy mother and baby.

I've got a reason to live now."

Listen to Sarah and Lara talk about their experiences

Lara's also running the London Marathon this year and writes a weekly blog about it.


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