I am obviously NOT the only dancer that has had a baby. I know. However, this is my first child so I can only share my experience. It has been every bit of a challenge. From pregnancy to postpartum…having a baby has shifted my whole world of dance. It has literally been turned all upside down.
Pregnant & Dancin
I found out I was pregnant in January and at the time, I felt more pregnant than I looked. I decided to keep it to myself until I was ready to share it with everyone. With a show in the coming months, I dealt with the nausea and everything at rehearsals. I could still move like I wanted so it was ok. The further I got into my pregnancy is when things started to get more complicated. I was still teaching, going to auditions, had shows coming up but breathing was becoming more difficult. Your stamina suffers severely when your pregnant (you can thank baby for pushing up nicely against those lungs). Sciatica is something I had dealt with before pregnancy but it returned with the pressure from baby girl. My last performance was in April. It was so sad because I knew that after I left that stage, I wouldn’t be seeing another stage for a while. To constantly hear, “Oh, you will be back in no time” wasn’t too comforting. I knew I would miss performing. Not to mention, that was a portion of my income gone. Dance isn’t a hobby, it’s my career.
I spent the summer months teaching. Nearing the end of my pregnancy and still up and moving with the kiddos. I told myself everyday that I wasn’t going to do too much dancing but ended up doing the exact opposite. With the swelling, back pain, return of nausea..I was clearly in between determination and insanity. My body was definitely telling me to sit down and I had to listen. After July, I decided I was going to take a much needed break from teaching dance. From August up until my due date in September, I wasn’t doing much moving besides walking and stretching. I was also doing squats and other exercises to initiate labor cause this mama was ready to give birth ya’ll.
Gotta take your time.
After giving birth, the body is all of whack. Seriously. I don’t think my walk was normal for weeks. I was so ready to get back to dancing but knew that it would take some time before that happened. Stupidly (I say stupid cause that’s exactly what it was) I went to some auditions 2-3 weeks after having her. Just because you feel better does not mean that your insides are better. Everything was shifted around during pregnancy and again in labor. During the postpartum stage the body is busy working to get back to normal. We only prolong healing when we participate in activities that aren’t helpful to that process.At those auditions, I was jumping and everything else. Total mistake. I was in so much pain that night and the next day that I could barely walk. My poor pelvis was calling me everything but a child of God. And for good reason. I NEEDED TO SIT DOWN. I also needed to see a chiropractor because with rehearsals underway and my body only taking more pressure, stretching on my own wasn’t going to cut it.
Let me just say, those auditions were a mistake. More of a mistake was thinking I could perform at 100% after just having a baby not even 4-5 months prior. Your ego will get you in more trouble than you can afford and the consequences can take months to bounce back from. They give women 3 months and then expect you to get right back to life. Nah. That’s not even accurate for a high percentage of women. I say I didn’t feel back to 100% until about a year after having her. And that was with exercise, good eating habits, seeing the chiropractor and doing my own stretching at home. But then also finding the time to just relax. Soak in the tub. Get a massage.
Again, I know I’m not the only dancer to get pregnant. Heck, I know some who have had 2 to 3 kids. (Not my story. 1 and DONE.) I just know that as a dancer, this has been an extremely difficult space to navigate. Oh, add in being a single mom. Plus a working dance artist. During a pandemic. With only a few people you can trust to watch your kid because the last thing you need is for her to get sick. It’s a lot. Bringing her to rehearsals. Having her strapped to me while I teach. While I’m thankful to have that option, it’s also easier to get stuff without her being present. But this is life now so I just have to adjust. There were times when I thought I would have to give up my dance career all together but you find ways to make it work. Even if your child just has to become entwined in that part of life too.
I write all this to say that dancers, know that whatever you’re feeling about being pregnant and having a career at the same time, you are justified in your feelings no matter what you may hear around you. Sit down when your body tells you to before it knocks you down. And don’t fret, you’ll be back in the game soon. Just take your time. Until next time…