SARAH Stirk is the first to admit that 2021 has been one hell of a roller coaster so far.
The first life-changing moment came this summer, when the Sky Sports Golf presenter came out publicly as a lesbian, after struggling with her sexuality during her 20s and then choosing to keep her professionally private.
“It took me a long time to get comfortable,” she says today. “But my big thing over the last few years has been to try to be more honest, transparent and genuine.
“I want to be completely myself, because for so many years I wasn’t at all.”
And now Sarah has another personal ad to share: At 43, she is pregnant with her first child, a baby boy expected this winter, thanks to an IVF trip she undertook on her own after separating from her. longtime partner Lou three years ago.
“I knew I wanted to be a mom and, because of my age, I kind of had to go on living,” she says. “I didn’t really want to wait anymore.
It was a “brutal” process, but Sarah is used to showing strength in the face of adversity.
Once a promising tennis star, she was devastated when a shoulder injury killed the dream in her late teens.
Determined to carve out a career in sports regardless, she obtained a degree in sports journalism from Loughborough University and began her career in broadcasting at Manchester United’s MUTV. She has spent the past eight years traveling the
globe for Sky as one of the most knowledgeable and respected golf presenters on screen.
She says, “The shoulder injury was a pretty early lesson to me that there are going to be setbacks, and I learned a lot about resilience. Life is complicated, but maintaining a good attitude is what is in our control.
Wise words. We sat down with Sarah to talk about her decision to go out and go it alone as a mom.
Sarah, congratulations! How has the pregnancy been so far?
From the sixth week or so, I suffered from debilitating nausea, to the point that I simply could not work. Now I can focus more on my pregnancy, I’m nervous but above all super excited.
Have you always wanted to be a mom?
I think in my 20s I would be asking myself, “OK, how is this going to work? And it was just like a minefield.
But as I got older, I absolutely wanted to be a mom and know the special bond I have with my parents. [Ken and Anne] I wanted this with my own children.
Are you worried about being judged for doing this yourself?
Not really, because it’s just cool and nobody’s eyed. What’s normal in today’s world anyway? People just have to get over it if they have a problem because, well, that’s life, right?
How did you find the IVF process?
I’m lucky it worked the first time around because everything is horrible. After the initial excitement of “my god I’m pregnant!” I was really, really weak in the first trimester and
I think these effects are increased with IVF drugs. I am very committed to passing on advice, because you can become a number, a statistic, and I don’t think emotional healing is brilliant.
Is that what you’re talking about?
Yes. The difficulty of IVF emotionally and physically is something that is not well publicized. A lot of the advice and help you need is just not there.
It’s your life, and you wanna feel like [the medical team] are completely on board with you. Having lived the trip for quite a few years now, it is not pleasant.
You first tried having a baby a few years ago with your ex, right?
That’s right. We left it a bit late, but we tried it with Lou when she was 42.
We started with IUI [intrauterine insemination, where sperm is inserted directly into the womb] after receiving bad advice.
We should have gone straight to IVF, as IUI at this age was unnecessary. We went for IVF and it didn’t work. It’s pretty heartbreaking, even now.
How long have you been together?
Fifteen years old and we’re still close – we’re not together, but we haven’t quite figured this one out. She has mixed emotions, because she feels happy for me, but she is also always very sad.
Will you be open with your son to the story behind his arrival?
Absoutely. The sperm donor is not anonymous, so he will have the opportunity, when he is older, to search for his father.
You went out publicly earlier this year after previously keeping your sexuality private. Why now?
I never really felt the need to speak in public because I’m a pretty private person. But then I thought, I was in that community, but I wasn’t really a part of it and I should be proud of who I am.
Do you feel responsible for helping to increase the visibility of lesbians in public life?
I do. I love my job – it has given me great opportunities, so why shouldn’t I give a little back and be a voice?
If I can help struggling young girls like me, then that’s great.
When did you go out with your family?
About 26 years old. I had a confusing few years where I wasn’t sure. I had parted with a boyfriend and that was kind of it.
I wish we had had more conversation then, but I just tried to play it down. I am very lucky to have the parents that I have. I never had anything to worry about.
Have you thought about dating a single mom?
No. It’s been a pretty tough few years personally, and without being too cliché, I needed to grow up and be a better person.
I am convinced that everything will work out. Whatever happens at the relational level, I don’t push, I don’t seek. What will be will be.
Credits – Make-up: Aimee Adams with Clinique Hairstyle: Dino Pereira with Kiehl’s Since 1851 Magic Elixir Styling: Kate Barbour Sarah wears: body, River Island