When I first got the call from DWTS, I did not feel ready to change out of my pajamas, let alone compete. Just a couple weeks postpartum, I still had restrictions on my physical activity, and, like all parents of newborns, I was completely exhausted.
I knew I wasn’t doing this alone. Even though Maks was also competing in this season, he was so amazingly, incredibly supportive of my decision. But, at the end of the day, I had to do this for me.
My first day back, I was a ball of nerves. I had so many things running through my mind. How will Shai be for long stretches with out me? Am I physically ready for the grueling rehearsal and performance schedule? Will I be able to give my partner all of the attention and help that he deserves?
Mostly, I think I was petrified of looking like a twat on camera.
This was a lot different than coming back from an injury. This was returning in a different way. Of course I wanted to make a run for the Mirrorball, but I had a lot more to prove to myself.
Once the season officially started, I was 7 weeks postpartum. It was– rough, to say the least. Even though I fell back naturally into the dancing part, my stamina was shot. I was huffing and puffing and had to take little breaks all the time. The hardest thing was counting out loud while I led my partner and danced my own steps – I would constantly run out of breath! Just counting! Ugh.
If there’s one thing that motherhood has already taught me, it’s patience. Patience with Nick as we worked through our routines. Patience with my body as it relearned to perform like an athlete. And patience with myself when things got hard.
I won’t lie – it was hard.
There were a lot of times I felt emotionally overwhelmed – and a lot of crying to, from and sometimes in rehearsals (I’m now a professional car makeup artist, btw). There were a few times when I would be on the phone, begging the nanny to hold him off so I could feed Shai myself, but knew I wouldn’t be able to be there. Or when I received a text with a picture of Shai holding a card that read, “I rolled over for the first time” – I was in the middle of rehearsal with my partner, troupe and cameras all around. I had to choke back tears and finish (even though I wanted to sob).
Still, we powered through. We worked hard and left it all on the dance floor with every performance. Even though we didn’t walk away with the Mirrorball trophy, I know that I grew as a teacher, parent and person from the experience.
Like I’ve said before, it was never an easy decision, but when I look back, it was still one of the best decisions I ever made.
To read more about what went into returning to DWTS, check out Decision Time: Heading Back to Work.
Photo Credit: Peta Murgatroyd