Here, Sarah Baker, 20, tells the story in her own words.
￼Puffing out my cheeks, I tried once again to pull my bra over my heaving chest.
I was already wearing a sports bra, along with a tight crop top – but at size 18H, it just wasn’t enough.
‘I’m so sick of these things,’ I moaned, fighting back tears.
Ever since my body went through puberty at the tender age of nine, I had struggled with my growing bust. By 10, I had double Ds.
The boys at school would laugh and make fun, while grown men would stop to leer at me in the street.
My mum wasn’t in my life, so at 15, I nervously approached Dad. ‘I need to buy a bra,’ I told him. ‘All right,’ he said, looking a bit mortified. ‘I’ll take you to the shops.’
By the time I reached 16, my boobs had doubled in size. They caused severe back pain and even stopped me from playing sports.
I tried losing weight, but they were both the size of watermelons and weighed a kilo each. It made it impossible to do anything more than a light jog.
Instead, I’d avoid buying tops with obvious cleavage. Button-up shirts were my worst enemy as my giant, saggy boobs threatened to burst out.
As bras were expensive and hard to find, I tried squashing them down under multiple layers. But as I battled to conceal them this time, I was beside myself.
So, when I was 17, I headed to the doctor. ‘They’re ruining my life,’ I sobbed. ‘I want a breast reduction.’
‘Try losing some weight,’ he advised. I have! I thought, feeling frustrated and completely heartbroken.
I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted a pain-free life and to be able to exercise. And to feel happy!
Back home, I gazed in the mirror, hating them.
Just get rid of them, a voice in my head nagged.
In a moment of desperation, I grabbed something sharp and cut them. Afterwards, I suddenly gathered my senses. What am I doing?! I thought, running to the bathroom and covering myself in bandaids.
But the next day, feeling that same overwhelming longing for a smaller chest, I did it again.
When my friend noticed the marks, she took me to hospital and I spoke to a social worker, Chris. ‘I just want them gone,’ I told her.
I began regular counselling sessions with her. Then, one day when we were driving, I asked to stop at the bathroom in a fast-food restaurant.
In that moment, my breasts felt so heavy and painful. And in a blur, I tried again to reduce their size by cutting at them again.
Back at a table, Chris’ face drained of colour. ‘What did you do to yourself?’ she cried.
I was rushed to hospital by ambulance, and there, I drifted in and out of consciousness.
When I woke up a few hours later, my breasts were covered in gauze.
Grabbing my phone, I lifted the bandages and, without looking, I took a photo of my injuries. Then bracing myself, I looked at the screen and let out a gasp.
The surgeon had done a wonderful job stitching me up – but I had done serious damage. Bursting into tears, I felt so angry with myself.
When the doctor came to see me, his eyes were filled with concern. ‘Why did you do this?’ he asked me.
‘I just didn’t want them anymore,’ I sobbed.
The doctor immediately scheduled me in for daily group therapy at a mental health unit. It was there I met Connor, 16. Quiet and sweet, he suffered with an eating disorder.
We’d text each other from our hospital rooms and even started sneaking kisses before and after therapy. ‘I can’t wait until we can be together,’ he told me.
With Connor, I felt loved. My stitches began to heal and I stopped feeling the urge to cut again.
Finally, after three months, I was discharged from hospital. Connor left soon after and we found a place together, eager to start afresh.
Amazingly, I fell pregnant, and in November last year. we had a beautiful baby boy, who we named Finn. ‘I need to be strong for you,’ I whispered, cradling my precious bub.
More than anything, I wanted to run around with Finn and be a good mum. So I felt more determined than ever to get a breast reduction.
It will cost a staggering $18,000 for the surgery, so I’m saving hard and I have set up a give a little page. I don’t want my breasts to weigh me down anymore. I also want other women to know they are not alone. If you are in pain, there is help out there.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues that have been raised in this story, help is always available. Call Lifeline 13 11 14 (Aus) or 0800 543 354 (NZ).
To donate to help Sarah visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/a-18h-breast-redaction
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