I always just assumed that I would become a mother. When I was little my sister and I would play mums and babies and wheel our Tiny Tears in their buggies around the garden.
When I hit my teens and 20s, I didn’t give it another thought apart from one day it will happen to me, but I was having the time of my life travelling the world as a model and then later becoming an actress. Even when my sister started having babies I was very happy being the auntie. I was very hands on and looked after my nieces all the time, I was even a birth partner for my sister but it wasn’t until I turned 30 that any kind of wanting for children kicked in, and I have to say I thought it would be plain sailing. Little did I know!
When I did decide I wanted to be a mother, I wanted it to happen immediately. I thought that I would come off the pill and have a few months of trying and then I would be pregnant. I did get pregnant after about 6-8 months of trying but sadly it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy, I collapsed on set and had to have a tube removed. They were very dark times. I was told there was no reason that I couldn’t conceive even though I had lost a tube and we tried again. After some failed clomid cycles that turned me a little crazy we eventually tried IVF. We had 3 failed rounds and by that point I was emotionally and financially drained. I knew I still wanted to be a mother even more than ever. We looked at every option under the sun including surrogacy and adoption abroad before we decided to adopt from the UK. It was a difficult time and wasn’t an easy decision but once I realised that I didn’t have to grow a baby in order to love it, that was it. We (my ex husband and i) adopted our daughter in 2008 and she is the best thing in the entire world.
“I went through a lot of struggles and I don’t think I would have survived it without the support network of my family especially my sister and my friends.”
The excitement of being approved as an adopter and knowing we had been matched with a child was the most incredible feeling. I had all the same feelings as when I found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon and so very scared all at the same time! Within six weeks of being matched with our daughter she would be coming to live with us so it was all very last minute, painting her bedroom and getting everything ready for her, but they were such exciting days.
I think probably what is the most challenging part of parenthood is ultimately the most rewarding. I always say adoption is parenting plus. You have the normal child rearing and this whole other world that you don’t know much about and need to incorporate into your life. A lot of trauma to navigate and help your child deal with, but I feel very blessed that I am there to hold her hand through her journey .
Knowing what I know now, how quickly life flies past , I wish I had taken even more time to pause, to have the confidence as a young mother to know what was right for my child. I did spend a lot of time so very happy at the tiniest things, like fitting a car seat and going to the playground because for a long time I had given up hope of that ever happening. I think everyone has a preferred way to play and mine was definitely baking with my daughter, she and I loved it, and rocking and reading stories and making up our own stories.
If I had any advice I could give myself looking back it would be to take some time. To be kinder to myself. To know that there wasn’t actually a ticking clock and the only race I was in was with myself.
“Meant to Be” it is now out in paperback.
John and Lisas Weekend Kitchen goes out on ITV on Saturday mornings in November.