Lisa Faulkner is well known as an actress, presenter and celebrity chef, but off screen, she’s also a Mum to Billie and a step mum to husband John Torode’s four kids. Her journey into motherhood took a different path than she imagined after she experienced three rounds of failed IVF and an ectopic pregnancy. As detailed in her book Meant to Be, Lisa asked herself what becoming a mother really meant – and over time, her desire to have a baby developed into the want to nurture a child instead. Her focus switched from her needs to the child’s needs and she began to consider adoption. She sat down with Gi to chat about what motherhood, in all its forms and guises, means to her now.
For Lisa, one of the biggest challenges around deciding to start her family was finding the right time. As a woman in the entertainment industry, she explained the pressures of “carving out this time away”, and said it wasn’t until she was around 30 that she felt ready to do just that. Her main concerns, until then, had been that she would lose momentum in the career that she had worked so hard to build: “I was playing leads and I had series and it was brilliant and I thought if I get pregnant then that’s all going to stop and somebody else is going to come up and take my place. There’s always a million actresses, all very good and so there was a lot of that thing of “when is the right time?” and there never is a right time.”
When she did feel like she was ready to start trying , her first pregnancy was ectopic, meaning a fertilised egg had implanted itself outside of the womb and in a fallopian tube. Lisa passed out on set and had to have surgery to remove the fertilised egg, and , ultimately lose the pregnancy. “It was a very lonely grief,” she explained. “I think when you’ve gone through a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy or anything like all of a sudden that hope that came flooding in – it’s got nowhere to go. It was such a sense of doom and failure and just darkness.”
After the surgery, Lisa was advised to try a range of IVF procedures, which were unsuccessful too. But all of this led to considering adoption. She said: “I kept asking myself that question “how can I love and what does that mean?” and what does becoming a mother mean? – it is it about carrying a baby or is it about nurturing a child?” Her whole approach to having a baby and becoming a mother flipped on it’s head and the focus switched to the child.
“It was really amazing to suddenly see that it wasn’t about me but actually it was about a child and it was about if i was going to adopt what that would mean and what mu capacity as a mother would be and how everything is about the child. Everything is about what your child has been through before they come to you and how you can help and support and love them forever. When you’re adopting your child is going to come with so much trauma, there is always going to be an element of trauma, and so if you’re thinking that you’re going to be handed a baby that’s fine and that’s the end of your story and their life starts there – you’ve got to leave all of that at the door and realise that once you’re handed your child that’s the beginning of the healing process for them.”
Lisa adopted Billie at 17 months old. The day before she sat down to record with Gi, she turned 15. The day Billie officially became Lisa’s daughter was “like all my birthdays and christmases and everything I could possibly want came at once”.
Listen to the rest of Lisa’s amazing chat with Gi in the YouTube video below below, or listen to the episode wherever you usually find your podcasts. We’re in all of the regular places! Check out all other episodes of Happy Mum Happy Baby here.