Actress, presenter and celebrity chef Lisa Faulkner opens up about her heartbreaking journey to motherhood to coincide with the launch of her new book.
Get your copy of Meant to Be, My Journey to Motherhood by Lisa Faulkner here.
What were your feelings about pregnancy and children in your late teens and twenties? I think most of us try not to get pregnant because we believe it’s oh-so-easy. Did you feel the same?
I did feel the same, I felt like I spent my late teens and all my twenties trying not to get pregnant, I spent a lot of time on the pill. If you’re looking back, it’s a bad thing to do really.
You first fell pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy, what was your experience with this?
It was devastating. I had been wanting to get pregnant, we had been trying and I finally found out I was pregnant and then I sort of felt like it was snatched away from me. Nobody had explained what an ectopic pregnancy was so I had no idea that it wasn’t a viable pregnancy when I first went into hospital and I collapsed, I was really ill with it. I went to hospital pregnant and left without a tube and without my tiny little baby in my head, so it was devastating.
You went on to TTC with cycles of clomid, and then rounds of IVF – tell us a bit about this journey, and how it impacted you emotionally?
The clomid was the most mind-bending drug I have probably ever taken. It messes with your head, you become I suppose very pre-menstrual, so I was really angry, really sad, very extreme emotions. It was a really horrible time.
I didn’t like the feeling I had when taking it, I felt quite out of control so I was pleased to get off that. But then the IVF rollercoaster does the same thing in a way. I know that I was living on heightened emotions for a long time.
Did you find it difficult when friends and family around you were getting pregnant?
I found it horrific. I don’t think that ever leaves, even now when I have my child and I am nearly too old to have children, still when people tell me they are pregnant I am really happy for them, but there is still a part of me that goes, ah, you never did that.
I have to say it’s ok now, but when I was in that time of trying to conceive it was awful. It makes you into a really horrible person and you think, I’m not that person, but you’re constantly going ‘Good for her, she got pregnant, good for her’ and it was just a horrible time where I wasn’t the best person I could have been. But it’s really, really lonely, it’s a very lonely time.
How did it feel when you were told all of your options had run out, and that it was unlikely you would ever conceive naturally?
I was flawed, numb. For a long time I didn’t know what to do next.
I couldn’t quite believe it was happening to me, that that was being said to me, because we all think that we are just going to have kids.
I think back to me in the playground saying ‘I’m going to have five children, I’m going to have two girls and have this and do this’ and nothing works out how you think. It took me a long time to pick myself back up off the floor and see that there could be another way.
How long did it take you to get your head around to considering other options after being told you wouldn’t be able to have your own child?
A long time. When you are on that rollercoaster to have children time is a weird concept. It can go so slowly and so fast, and it’s all-consuming trying to have a baby, whichever way you are doing it. So I think even when I was then told I couldn’t have a child naturally, to then immerse myself in the world of what’s next, maybe it was only a few months, but it felt like a long time.
I did all the research I could on every single way I could have a child and each time I was blocked then I’d think, right, well there must be another way.
Tell us a bit about the adoption process and how infertility led you to your daughter.
The adoption process is a really tough process, it’s hard for reasons that it has to be hard.
The great thing about the adoption process is that usually at the end of it you are going to get a child. There are workshops and there are support groups and there are meetings and you do about six months with social workers coming into your life and interviewing basically every week. They look into every single aspect of your life and yes, it’s tough, on a different level.
I found it easier than others, probably because after losing my mum, and going to see a therapist for a long time, I’m quite used to talking about stuff so I didn’t find it as invasive as a lot of people do, but it’s still hard. But for a good reason, you have to be able to look after a child that might have gone through a lot of trauma.
Via our The Jellie Diary we run a support group for IVF/TTC. What message or words of hope would you like to give to women going through the same struggles as you?
To look after you, to actually take the babiest steps. You are constantly looking ahead and just to take that time to have a glass of wine and watch of film and think I don’t care tonight, I’m going to do that, to take the pressure off yourself because it’s really, really tough.
To hold hands and talk to the people that you can talk to, and whether that isn’t your family or friends, for whatever reason, because you feel so isolated, support groups like this, to have a support group, to have a forum that you can go on where you don’t feel so alone is just a joy, because you can just sit with it I suppose.
Someone once said to me to sit in the mud is one of the hardest things, but sometimes you just have to sit in the mud with it and it will become clear.
Whatever will happen will happen and this to shall pass is what I’ve always been told to think, and it’s the only way I’ve got through stuff.
If you’re struggling to conceive, please join our IVF/TTC: A Place To Talk support group.