Anoxeria survivor was told she'd never have children, just celebrated birth of her second child
Becoming a mother is a dream of many women. Sure, we're also very into advancing our careers and pursuing the never-ending quest to find that perfect pair of jeans, but somewhere on the dream horizon is also the idea of bringing kids into the world. But imagine if you were one to entertain that fantasy, only to be told that it would be impossible.
For anorexia survivor Emma O'Neil, that was the case. The 28-year-old was so dangerously skinny that while she was hospitalised, doctors told her that she would never be able to have children due to the damage the eating disorder had caused.
At her lowest weight, the scales barely tipped to 40 pounds (18 kilograms), and Emma was in such a state that even lying down became unbearable because her ribs were bruising her skin. She reached this frail state after refusing to eat anything but Shreddies (the wholegrain breakfast cereal) and completely starving herself for up to 10 days at a time.
But even though Emma managed to overcome the illness, her doctors broke the news that she would probably never be able to conceive.
"I had just met my fiancé, Jonathan, 41, and I knew that we wanted to have children and I refused to let my illness stop us from having a future," she said. Being told she was unlikely to have children is what "pulled her out" of being anorexic.
Perhaps it was her willpower to beat the odds that did it, but miraculously, Emma did fall pregnant... twice. Now living in Glasgow, Scotland, Emma and Jonathan have two kids together – two-year-old India-Rose and newborn Jenson, who is only four weeks old.
While pregnancy was the thing she was so desperately hoping for, seeing her body grow and change wasn't easy for Emma to come to terms with.
"Being pregnant did make me very self-conscious - because suddenly my body was going from absolutely tiny to bloated and large."
At times, the morning sickness brought back the same kind of feelings she experienced during her anorexia, and she says her strength and mindset was tested.
"I had very bad morning sickness up until I was 36 weeks, which just played havoc with my mindset because I wanted to bring food back up.
"But I knew that the safety of my baby was paramount, so I battled through again and that feeling of seeing my new-born baby made it all worth it."
Her supportive fiance helped her through it all, whether it be the emotions, hormones and whatever else that she faced. She gushed that pregnancy was the "most amazing experience" of her life.
"Jonathan gave me a healthy approach to food again, going on date nights and having him cook me big meals made me feel safe eating again.
"With how hormonal I was, and it's such a vulnerable time, but having my children was the most amazing experience of my whole life."
Emma is now at a healthy BMI weighing 112 pounds (50kg), and easily able to nurture her two young children. She hopes to inspire other women dealing with the same thing by showing that you can get back to "normality" and be happier than ever.
"Now I want to help people realise how there is a way out of anorexia and you can turn your life around to normality," she says.