Five years ago, Laura Wilson was 23 years old and in the grip of a raging eating disorder. The photos from her wedding and honeymoon show just how bad things had become -- her body was so terrifyingly frail, it's a wonder she was able to stand upright to repeat her vows.
Today, despite all the odds, Wilson is the mother of a 14-month-old son. She looks wonderfully healthy, and says that her "miracle baby" has cured her eating disorder, once and for all. She credits little Matthew every day with saving her life, and it sounds like the perfect happy ending to her personal struggle with anorexia.
I'm pleased for her, of course, but Wilson's story also makes me wonder whether or not a serious condition like anorexia can be cured by parenthood.
Wilson was so sick during her own wedding she says she "literally wanted to die." She knew her appearance was shocking, but she couldn't stop herself -- during her honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand, she claims she only remembers eating two slices of pineapple throughout the entire trip.
Based on this photo, I believe her.
Only weeks after the wedding, Wilson was briefly sent to a psychiatric hospital. She and her husband attempted to come to terms with the fact that she'd likely never be able to have children, based on the damage her body had endured after years of starvation.
Last March, however, she discovered that she was not only pregnant -- she was seven months along. She says that was the moment her life changed forever:
Overnight, I literally went from starving myself to stuffing myself with as much nutritious food as I could. I was so scared that my baby might have been harmed by my extreme diet and exercise regime. The minute I saw the positive pregnancy test my entire focus shifted from me to the unborn life inside me. Nothing else mattered. I knew I had to do anything to get healthy. If that meant eating three square meals and not exercising then that’s what I would do.
Two months later, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and says she's been healthy ever since:
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel like Matthew’s birth was divine intervention. He’s such a sunny, happy, little boy and I adore him. My miracle baby is saving my life every day.
It's a great ending, and the photos of Wilson as a mom show a healthy, seemingly content woman -- but I wonder if such a severe eating disorder can truly be turned around through parenthood. I have a personal interest in this topic, because it wasn't too many months before I became pregnant with my first child that I was in the midst of a serious alcohol problem. I credit the changes I went through as a mother as helping me immensely with that area of my life, in no small part because I had to grow up and take on a lot of responsibility all at once.
Still, it was the culmination of a lot of things that led me down the path to sobriety, and it was underway before I ever started trying for a child. I can't imagine laying all the responsibility of my recovery on the heads of my children, even if I believed it to be true. If nothing else, it certainly shortchanges the work I did to drag myself out of the shitty situation I was in.
Which isn't to say I'm criticizing this woman for saying her baby "cured" her -- I just wonder how realistic it is. But then again, we all rely on the power of magical thinking sometimes.
What do you think about this story? Did parenthood 'cure' you of any personal troubles?