Back to Work: Decision Time

Back to Work: Decision Time

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

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  1. I loved what you wrote. Each mom has to make their own decision. I had an almos opposite experience. Prior to having my baby I thought I would be fine to go back to work in 12 weeks. Then as the time was approaching I just realized that I wasn’t ready at all to leave my new baby and I didn’t think he was ready. He wouldn’t take a bottle at all and that had me worried. I think it’s so important to listen to what your instincts are telling you.

    Posted by: Kara on May 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm
  2. Lovely written! I was able to stay home all the way until my child graduated from High School. The reason I stayed home is because my husband & I just move to a new town-Southern Maryland and we didn’t have family live close by (4 hrs away-hubby’s family & 10 hrs away-my family). It was the best decision that we made as we learn about the town we live in. Every mom had the right to choose to work or not. Enjoy your baby boy as he grows fast before you know it.

    Posted by: Patricia on May 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm
  3. Can only imagine what a tough decision it was. Obviously the very best one for you and your little family. Being a mom is hard work, and so many have to go back to work for one reason or another when they’d love nothing better than to be home with their little one. The last thing a mom needs is anyone judging her. Your shares are very inspiring Peta. Keep ’em coming!

    Posted by: Cindy on May 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm
  4. That’s how I felt when my six weeks maternity leave was up, I had to go back to work and left my baby daughter with my parents. I was sad but I know my mom took good care of her and kept me posted on what she was doing at home. You keep up good work!

    Posted by: Cindy on May 18, 2017 at 5:44 pm
  5. This is so awesome & honest. I am a performer as well in Vegas and I totally understand how you felt/feel. I was in PEEPSHOW and had 12 weeks to get back on stage. The first day I left for rehearsals, I bawled my eyes out the entire way out of my house & during the drive to the theatre. I missed my little girl the moment I put my shoes on to leave that day. Like you, I didn’t want to lose my identity as a dancer (as soon as you have a baby, most think you’re a “mom” now and the past life is forgotten about- but being a dancer AND mom is ME). Going back to work was the BEST thing I did for myself. Every part that makes me “me” was filled to the max and I had never been happier Keep going mama. Doing things that make you happy will only make you a better mother. xo

    Posted by: Jen on May 18, 2017 at 5:20 pm
  6. Wow I love your honesty. Reading this has helped me more than you could ever know. Thank you for putting this out there.

    Posted by: Glo on May 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm
  7. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. It’s incredibly refreshing. I feel like I get to know you better. Love you, Peta. Keep doing what’s good for you and your family.

    Posted by: Maria on May 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  8. This is so beautifully written and so true. My daughter is 7 months old. And when she was 4 weeks old I too had a decision to make regarding work. I ultimately decided to stay home, which has been amazing! Everything you wrote about were the same things I experienced as well. A lot of crying, and little sleep as I loved my job! Thank you for being so real, open and honest! I love seeing pictures of shai and reading the blog!

    Posted by: Kate on May 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  9. I think you did the right thing for you and don’t need to justify it at all. I think it’s wonderful that you share but no one should judge we all parent in our own way. I was lucky to stay home until my kids went to school but I also wasn’t on dancing with the stars which is a wonderful opportunity.

    Posted by: Jennifer on May 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm
  10. Beautifully written…..the right decision!!! Voting for Val…..!! Will bring your gifts next Monday!!!!

    Posted by: Deborah Leisher on May 16, 2017 at 8:07 pm