In our new blog series, meet the women behind our #WeAreWeCan campaign. We asked these brave and inspiring women to tell us about some of the challenges and struggles they've faced, and share their stories with us. Our hope is that by talking about our experiences as women, we'll recognize that we are not alone and we can help others who might be struggling with similar issues. WE ARE strong, and together WE CAN overcome anything.
For our #WeAreWeCan campaign, we sat down with Sami Bawden, age 26, to hear her story. Sami has struggled with body image, infertility, and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Despite years of challenges and being told she could never have children, she's currently pregnant and will welcome her miracle baby in June! Below, read our conversation with Sami and watch her emotional video to learn more about her inspiring journey.
In your interview, you told us about your struggle with body image, infertility, and PCOS. Could you briefly share your story with us and tell us about your experience?
I've struggled with body image my whole life. I've never been a skinny person, but I've always been athletic and in good shape. Everyone in my family is skinny and I just never felt like I fit in, even when I was younger. Shopping with my family was so embarrassing because I had to shop in a different department than my sisters and friends. My body image got worse when I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 19 and gained weight around my midsection, which is so common for women with PCOS. During that time I was told that I would never be able to have children of my own. My doctor wanted to do a hysterectomy, but I didn't feel right about it. I ended up not having the procedure done, and thus my PCOS got worse. After I got married, I was put on 14 different medications to help with my Fibro, PCOS, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. I gained about 74 pounds and had never felt more down on myself than I did then. It was horrible.
How have you found strength, hope, and joy during your infertility journey? Have you found support from other women struggling with similar issues?
When we first started our infertility journey, I felt incredibly alone until I started speaking out about it. Being open and honest about infertility has helped me feel less alone, and less embarrassed about it. All I wanted was to have a child of my own. I was lucky to meet several women who were struggling just like I was. I made a friend through my husband who helped me more than I think she knows she did. I had to lose weight before getting put on any medication, and the support from her and my husband were a huge factor in me losing 40 pounds. I was also really lucky to find a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, and who helps women with fertility issues. He made the whole experience less traumatic for me. He's the reason we are welcoming our little miracle baby this June.
How have you found self-love and acceptance?
Getting pregnant has helped me love myself more than I thought it would. My body is bringing life into this world, a life I never thought in a million years I'd get to carry. I may have curves in places I don't like, but I've learned to love them. My husband has also helped me. After I gained all the weight (we had only been married for about 4 months when it happened) he still loved me, he still told me I was beautiful. I never thought anyone would ever say that to me—but he did.
What advice would you offer women struggling with infertility, body image, or PCOS?
There is no right or wrong way to be a woman. The way you look is honestly so beautiful, and you are worthy of all the love in the world! You are never alone when it comes to infertility, PCOS, and body image. There are so many woman out there struggling just like you. Talking about it and not being embarrassed is the best medicine. You got this baby girl! You're going to get your little miracle one way or another, I promise!
Who is a woman that inspires you and why?
I LOVE Melissa McCarthy. She doesn't care what others think about her and I've always admired that. She is funny and fierce. She lives her life the best way she knows how.
If you could go back, what advice would you give your teenage self?
I would say, "Honey, it's all going to be okay! All of the abuse from your family, all of the bullying in school, all of the mean nicknames people gave you will be worth it. You are going to come out on top, and stronger than ever before! I'm proud of you!"
What do you love about your Fawn Design bag?
I love that its not just for moms—I've been using one for years. Because of my medical conditions, I have to carry medication with me to take throughout the day. The large pockets inside fit all of the bottles and other things I need to carry so that I can manage running errands. It's also SO nice to have a backpack on days when I use my cane.