All through my pregnancy, I had always intended to return to Dancing With the Stars. I would tell people, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll have the baby and I’ll be back to work in a couple of weeks.” And I honestly believed it. When I fell pregnant, I only had a vague idea of how babies worked… Or the human body… Or motherhood, really!
Now I realize that I was so determined to get back to work – to keep my old life – because I was worried that I’d lose me. That Maks and I wouldn’t be the same fun, glamorous, #goals couple we were before. That my career wouldn’t be there, or the same, when I was able to return.
Then I had Shai and all of that went out the window. My life most definitely did change, but for the better. It’s like I’d found this untapped well of love and energy and wonder that I drew from. I mean, I’d stay up late watching Shai sleep, determined to not miss a single moment of his little life. I put so much time and energy into being the best possible mum that, frankly, the call from DWTS caught me off guard.
They were so understanding of how important my new role was to me. There was no pressure and made sure that, if I did say yes, I’d have all the resources to accommodate Shai’s needs and my obligations to my family – like a partner in the Los Angeles area to balance the demands of practice and my feeding schedule, an amazing nanny to take care of Shai while we were at work, and allowing me to miss some press commitments like the cast reveal in NYC. They really did do everything they could to make this work.
I told them I’d talk it over with my family, but when I hung up the phone, I just… sat there. At the time, Shai wasn’t even a month old. I was so in love, but so, so tired. Between that and baby weight and feeling like a complete slob (I spent most of my days in pajamas), just the thought of going back to work was exhausting. I’d felt a struggle like this before. Making work decisions was always tough, but to throw a baby in the mix?
I knew deep down in my heart that getting back to work, exercising, and being out in the world again would be good for me. I also knew that doing this, being on TV, could be an inspiration to so many mothers out there. But, when it came down to crunch time, I didn’t know what to do.
Was I emotionally ready to spend time away from Shai? Would he grow closer to his nanny while I was away? Would people think I was a bad mum for going back so soon? Just thinking about this made me cry – which, as I’d learn, wouldn’t be the last time.
After speaking at length with Maks and my family, some sleepless nights, and, yes, more tears, I called DWTS back and agreed to join the cast. What ultimately made me say yes was that I needed this for me. I said yes because I knew myself better than anyone else. I said yes because I knew it’d help me get my pre-baby body back. I said yes because I knew that, if I didn’t seize this opportunity, I’d regret it.
So we did it – all of us. Maks, who was getting ready to join for his own run at the Mirrorball, Shai, who would barely be 7 weeks old when the season started, and myself, fears and all. We met with the nanny [who is an absolutely amazing person and was a tremendous help physically and emotionally, by the way] and got our schedules all figured out. I busted my butt in the gym so I could look halfway decent by the premiere. And soaked up as much time as a family as we possibly could.
It was never an easy decision, but when I look back, after having Shai and saying yes to the man I love, it was the best decision I ever made.
Photo Credit: Shane Russeck