Emelye Dwyer’s battle with bulimia and then anorexia saw her weight drop so low, her unborn daughter died
Originally Published: 28 June 2011
At the height of her 10-year battle with bulimia and anorexia, Emelye Dwyer was just 4st 3lbs.
After finally seeking help aged 19, the 5ft 4 singer and model started on the road to recovery – but was surprised to fall pregnant a few months later. However, in a devastating turn of events, her eating disorder left her body too weak to carry her unborn daughter Gracie, who sadly died in the womb at 17 weeks.
“When I miscarried, I felt so guilty,” confesses Emelye, now 23, who lives with her parents in Fareham, Hampshire.
'I've always wanted to be thin, but now I realise I can't be so selfish if I'm ever going to be a mum'
“I’ve always wanted to be thin, but now I realise I can’t be so selfish if I’m ever going to be a mum.”
Emelye was nine when she first made herself sick after a boy teased her. She recalls: “He called me a pig. I was a normal weight, but I went straight to the toilet to throw up. I guess I was oversensitive at that age.”
Emelye developed bulimia, and began to make herself sick a couple of times a month, but within a year it was happening daily. She says: “I’d eat normally, then I’d vomit.”
At 13, Emelye stopped eating meat and dairy, but it was only aged 16 that her family became aware of her problem.
She started to lose weight, her clothes became baggy and she spents lots of time in her room.
“My eyes were puffy and my voice was croaky,” she says. “My parents begged me to eat more and stop being sick, but I ignored them.”
Terrified, her mum Sally, 50, a drama teacher, took her to see her GP, but Emelye denied having a problem. By the time she turned 18, she was also suffering from anorexia and eating just 300 calories a day.
“I had a bowl of mushrooms for breakfast, juice for lunch and veg for dinner,” she says.
Despite managing to stop making herself sick, at 18 Emelye was just 6st – she was also taking 100 laxatives a day and tablets to speed up her metabolism. By October 2006, she’d reduced her food intake to just 30 calories a day by eating jelly, a few mushrooms and a grape. Her weight had plummeted to 4st 3lbs and she had a BMI of just 10.14 – the healthy range is 18.5 to 25.
“I’d shut out my mum, who pleaded with me to get help,” says Emelye.
Her sister Aimee, 26, and half-sister Camella, 42, eventually forced Emelye to go to hospital, where tests showed she risked heart failure. Admitted to 24-hour care, Emelye was fed via a tube.
In December 2006, after 10 weeks, she went home weighing just over 6st.
But then, in June 2007, weighing 7st 7lbs, Emelye accidentally fell pregnant with then-boyfriend Bradley’s baby. She says: “I didn’t have periods, so I assumed I couldn’t get pregnant. I was terrified of gaining weight.”
'Doctors said my body wasn't strong enough to carry Gracie. I was overcome with guilt'
Admitting she felt “numb,” Emelye started bingeing and vomiting again.
But in November 2007, she was rushed to hospital with stomach cramps, and scans confirmed Emelye’s daughter – who she’d named Gracie – had died in her womb.
She admits: “Doctors said my body wasn’t strong enough to carry Gracie. I was overcome with guilt.”
Emelye, who split from Bradley a year later, says her grief changed her outlook, and she started eating three balanced meals a day.
She reveals: “Eating disorders were a way of life, but I faced up to how deadly they could be. The thought of never being a mum scared me.”
Now Emelye – who weighs a healthy 9st with a BMI of 21 – has started a relationship with events manager Rowan, 31, and they are determined to try for children soon.
“Some days, I have to force myself to eat, but the desire to be a mum keeps me going,” Emelye confides. “I’ll never stop feeling guilty about Gracie. She was such an important part of my recovery and I’ll never forget her.”
Dr Sarah Jarvis says: “If a woman recovers from an eating disorder, eats well and stays at a healthy weight, there’s no reason why she shouldn’t enjoy a healthy pregnancy.”
By Natalie Corp