A woman who was told her eating disorders meant she would never have children is celebrating the arrival of a “surprise” baby.
Sarah Fletcher, 33, of Derby, had endured years of anorexia and bulimia which halted her periods and led to abdominal surgery.
She had an X-ray on a suspected gastric blockage which showed she was, in fact, six-and-a-half months pregnant.
Sarah says her daughter Beatrice, now nine weeks, “saved my life”.
Ms Fletcher, who lives in Mickleover, had been battling eating disorders, alongside Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), since the age of 14.
At one point she was taking up to 100 laxatives a day, which damaged her bowel. A lack of nutrition also means she has osteoporosis.
When her stomach began to swell she went for an X-ray and was called into a hospital side room.
She said: “I thought they were going to say I had six months left to live, or something like that.
“The consultant looked at me and said, ‘There’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just going to say it’, and I started to cry.
“She told me they had found baby bones on the scan – but at that stage it wasn’t clear if baby was alive.”
Happily, CT scans confirmed the child was alive and growing well.
Ms Fletcher’s mother, Susan Duffin, said : “After we stopped crying the first thing I said was, ‘Now you have to eat’.
“So we went to Marks and Spencer and she chose the biggest sandwich and biggest milkshake, which I had never seen her do before, and I started to cry again.”
Ms Fletcher said: “I cried, the doctors cried, the whole of the hospital cried – even the porters knew about it.
“I always say my baby saved my life. Having an eating disorder was all I knew, so I couldn’t get through it.”
She added: “When I found out I was pregnant I thought, ‘Now I have to eat for her’ and it gave me something to live for.
“I had given up and I didn’t care any more.”