18 December 2019
Victoria Boltwood says she only ever wanted three things in life - to be married, to have a house and to have a baby.
When she met her future husband, Wayne, on a dating website, and they moved to their home in Crawley, the 31-year-old was well on the way to making her dream a reality.
But, despite trying to conceive since their wedding in June 2015, Victoria failed to become pregnant. In October 2017, after almost 10 years without a period, she was finally diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – a condition which affects how a woman's ovaries work and one of the most common causes of female infertility.
“All my adult life, all I ever wanted was the traditional family thing and the idea that it might not happen for us was awful. I felt my body was broken.”
The diagnosis not only explained Victoria’s fertility issues, but also her inability to lose weight.
“I was told that PCOS makes the body cling on to weight. In the past, I would diet but would only lose a little bit of weight and it would always go back on.”
But, until her diagnosis of PCOS, Victoria, a singer, who teaches children at the Hawth Youth Theatre and regularly performs on behalf of local charities such as The Olive Tree Trust and St Catherine’s Hospice, and at the Tilgate Park Magical Christmas, has always been happy with her size.
“My whole family have always been big. I don’t remember being slim. I have never, ever had any problems with it and always felt happy and confident. Being overweight never held me back. I got on with life and enjoyed food along the way.”
She admits she has always had a 'sweet tooth', and socialising and date nights with her husband revolved around eating out. But the diagnosis of PCOS was a wake-up call. By now a size 24 to 26, Victoria learnt that losing weight could improve the symptoms of PCOS and increase her chances of becoming pregnant.
“I had been given medication for the PCOS, but the side effects were awful and, by that Christmas, I realised something drastic needed to happen if I want to have children.”
She began googling weight loss surgery and discovered she would have to wait up to five years for the procedure on the NHS.
“I didn’t want to wait that long as I knew I wanted a baby as soon as possible. I had seen case studies online about women who’d had weight loss surgery privately and had gone on to have children. I remember seeing one lady’s 'before' photos, then her 'slim' pictures, and then one of her holding her baby. I had savings and thought if she can do it and have that dream, that’s what I want.”
Victoria met consultant bariatric surgeon Mr Simon Monkhouse in May 2018. By then, the fear that her weight and the PCOS may prevent her from having a baby was taking its toll.
“By the time I saw Simon, I felt I was going into a darker place. I did not like to look at myself in the mirror and I was no longer comfortable with myself.”
A month later, Victoria had gastric bypass surgery.
“I was really ready for surgery day, I had no problems and recovered well.” By the end of that year, Victoria had lost eight stone - and discovered she was pregnant.
“We were supposed to have left trying to conceive for a year post-surgery, but we didn’t expect it to happen so fast because it had never happened before.” When the pregnancy test kit showed a positive result, Victoria was in such disbelief that she made Wayne go out and buy several more just to make sure.
During her pregnancy, Victoria lost a further three and a half stone, and didn’t need to buy maternity clothes, simply fitting into her larger clothes sizes as her bump grew. On September 9 this year, Aria Barbara Boltwood was born, weighing 6lb 12oz, and Victoria loves every minute of being a mum.
“I wanted her so much. If I am up all night or if she is aggy all day, I don’t mind - this is so great as all I ever wanted was to have a family.”
“I had an amazing pregnancy and delivery and I am convinced it was because I am so much healthier. I now have more energy. I can go shopping and don’t feel tired, and I enjoy going for lovely long walks which I used to hate as I knew I would struggle.”
She recently gave a 'piggy-back' to a friend who weighed nine stone as she wanted to see what it felt like to have that weight on her back.
“It is unreal to think I was carrying that around. But now I would be happy if I didn’t lose any more weight. I don’t want to look skinny as I have always liked my curves.”
Unlike many bariatric surgery patients, Victoria isn’t trying to get down to a certain weight or dress size.
“I have never had a goal weight,” she says. “The goal has always been to have a baby.”
Spire Gatwick Park Hospital’s weight loss surgery team includes a surgeon, a bariatric specialist nurse, a psychologist and a dietician and together they assess every patient to see if they can proceed with surgery. The patients are then supported before and after the operation for up to two years, both emotionally and with practical advice. The weight loss team is contactable 24/7 and patients are invited to become lifelong members of the weight loss support group which meets regularly.
If you wish to seek advice from our Weight Loss Surgery Team or book a consultation with Mr Monkhouse, please call on 01293 778 906 to find out more.