The amazing Florence Aferi-Gordon with her son Solomon (11 months). Florence is also mother to Isaiah (who would be almost 2, still born at 17 weeks gestation in 2013) and step mother to Tony Jr (14), Xavier (12) and Jason (11). Florence spent most of her childhood in Ghana, the child of a Ghanaian father and African American mother. She says that most of her life she was "chubby or overweight" and that although she was very outgoing and had lots of friends, she was frequently teased for being the fat kid in school. By the time she reached college she was over 300 lbs. At about 25 years old, she was admitted to the hospital for chest pains and her blood sugar tested near 1000. She was told a week or so later that she had type II diabetes and the chest pains she felt were a mild heart attack. By this point Florence was around 350 lbs and had exhausted every avenue to lose weight. She was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and was told that she wouldn't be able to conceive naturally or even carry a pregnancy full term if she did conceive. After years of yo-yo dieting and back and forth weight loss/gain, Florence finally started the process for weight loss surgery. She had gastric bypass in 2008 and over the next 2 years lost 147 lbs from the surgery and exercise/healthy eating.
Soon after, Florence met her now husband and after dating for about 6 months they learned she was pregnant. Devastatingly they lost their son Isaiah at 17 weeks. Florence says that she had conquered the weight issues, her diabetes was in remission, she was no longer a candidate for polycystic ovarian syndrome and still her baby had cystic hygroma, omphalocele, and Trisomy 13. Days after Isaiah was born Florence and her husband married and she says it was a silver lining she very much needed. Following her loss, Florence started emotionally eating again and slipped into a depression that lasted a year. As she began to come out of it, she started working out, eating better and lost some weight. She learned they were expecting their rainbow baby, Solomon. Florence's second pregnancy was healthy other than some sciatica but she was very nervous. Thankfully, Solomon was born healthy, without complication and he and Florence have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship.
Florence chose to participate because as a breastfeeding mother and advocate, a model, and a woman she wants to show other women who may battle some of the same issues, that they can conquer them!