Capturing a reflection of herself in the mirror, the photo seems like any other selfie.
But Yiota Kouzoukas, from Brisbane, is actually six months pregnant in the picture.
The 29-year-old co-owner of Australian fashion label Sabo Skirt suffers from endometriosis – a debilitating condition preventing her from having a baby.
But against all odds, the young woman is expecting her first child – a baby boy – after she was diagnosed with the crippling disease in February this year.
Six months pregnant: Yiota Kouzoukas, from Brisbane, shares a photo of her baby bump
She has been living with endometriosis (left pre-pregnancy and right four months pregnant)
Sister-in-law and business partner Thessy Kouzoukas (pictured left) also has endometriosis
For most of her life, Yiota suffered excruciating period pain, dizzy spells, severe vomiting and black out.
‘But I never thought it was abnormal,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It wasn’t until September last year when I was in New York for Fashion Week, my period got progressively worse.
‘I was at the hotel alone, and I remember crawling to the showers in pain. I was vomiting and then I blacked out.
‘My husband found me and carried me back into bed. I was given painkillers and a heat pack so I could make my flight back home.
‘It was the final alarm bell for me to see a specialist.’
For most of her life, Yiota (pictured four months pregnant) suffered excruciating period pain, dizzy spells, severe vomiting and black out
She explained the disease was preventing her from falling pregnant – and so she underwent surgery in February to get most of her endometriosis removed (pictured five months pregnant)
As her sister-in-law Thessy Kouzoukas, also co-owner of Sabo Skirt, battled Stage 4 endometriosis, Yiota admitted she ‘kind of knew’ she had the same disease – but was putting off seeing a doctor.
‘I think I was just in denial,’ Yiota said.
‘But I was in so much pain, I thought I needed to get this fixed. It got to a point I knew this wasn’t okay anymore.
‘If I hadn’t been speaking to people who have it, I don’t think I would’ve seen a doctor. But as soon as I came through, the doctor said ‘you have endometriosis’.’
She explained the disease was preventing her from falling pregnant – and so she underwent surgery in February to get most of her endometriosis removed.
‘It gave me a better chance [to conceive],’ she said.
‘Unfortunately, they couldn’t take it all out because I have quite a severe scarring on my uterosacral ligaments.’
Showing off her baby bump (pictured at five months) the woman said she’s expecting a boy
Yiota found out she was expecting a baby just three months after she was diagnosed (pictured at five months pregnant)
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is present when the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility.
The lining layer is called the endometrium and this is the layer of tissue that is shed each month with menstruation (period) or where a pregnancy settles and grows.
Symptoms include fatigue, irregular bleeding, pain during or after sex, pain when you urinate, pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs and trouble holding on when you have a full bladder, or having to go frequently.
Source: Endometriosis Australia
Just three months after the operation, Yiota found out she was expecting a baby after being put on hormone treatment.
‘I was really lucky because usually during the treatment, you tend to be the most fertile,’ she explained.
‘I was honestly shocked only because the previous year, we tried for a year but nothing happened. So when I did fall pregnant, I was really happy.
As her sister-in-law Thessy, also co-owner of Sabo Skirt, battled Stage 4 endometriosis, Yiota admitted she ‘kind of knew’ she had the same disease – but was putting off seeing a doctor
She explained her crippling condition caused her uterus to ‘anchor’ so her baby bump was growing inwards (pictured with her husband George at four months pregnant)
The 29-year-old has been documenting her pregnancy journey (pictured left at five months and right at six months)
Sharing her raw photographs on her Instagram, Yiota explained candidly the reality behind her tiny baby bump.
‘For the first four months of my pregnancy, my uterus was retroverted which means that I was growing backwards into my body rather than outwards,’ she said.
‘Most people with this type of uterus tilt forward at around 12 weeks and continue growing outwards like you normally would.
‘My uterus didn’t “flip forward” until well into being four months pregnant because of the backwards tilted position paired with decade old endometriosis scarring that I have on my uterosacral ligaments.
‘Basically, these ligaments are acting like anchors keeping my uterus “inside” rather than “outside”, which is why I appeared smaller than most people for the first four or five months.’
Now, at six months pregnant, she said her stomach has started growing out ‘like everyone else while the scarring on my ligaments slowly breaks down’ (pictured at four months)
Her debilitating condition had caused her uterus to grow inwards – but her stomach has since been growing out – and her baby is ‘perfectly healthy’ (pictured at four months)
Before: A photograph showing what her stomach looks like before she fell pregnant
Now, at six months pregnant, she said her stomach has started growing out ‘like everyone else while the scarring on my ligaments slowly breaks down’.
‘My torso is also short and my stomach is naturally toned which is keeping my belly super tight, so I’ve had to personally stop all ab exercises to avoid any issues with possible ab separation,’ she said.
‘This is for me personally, as instructed by my doctor and is in no way a blanket rule for anyone else.
‘I’m perfectly healthy, baby is perfectly healthy and that’s all that matters. Our bodies and bumps are all different and our shapes and sizes are all different too.’
By telling her story, Yioti wanted other sufferers to draw hope from her experience
Sister-in-laws Yioti and Thessy both diagnosed with endometriosis are raising awareness
By telling her story, Yioti wanted other sufferers to draw hope from her experience.
‘I wanted to get behind my sister-in-law Thessy whose endometriosis is quite severe at the moment,’ she said.
‘We wanted to raise awareness about the condition. It’s important to get support. Endometriosis does leave people feeling isolated.
‘Be proactive, speak to your doctor will make a big difference. I wish I’d seen one earlier. I was in denial for so long but it’s better to know earlier than later.’