Published on July 22nd, 2011 | by Roxy Rockett0
Getting Back On Skates After Baby
If you’re planning to have a baby or just found out you’re “great with child” (thanks, JFM!) or if you’ve just popped the little bun out of the oven, here are some pointers to help you figure out your process on returning to competitive derby play and finding your new role in life as a Derby Mom.
When deciding to have a child, I would recommend keeping that to yourself. Why you may ask? It’s fine to tell people if you’re ready to answer “you pregnant yet?”; “ what are going to name it?”; “every time we see each other, this is what we’ll talk about.” If not, pull your name from rosters and take a leave from competitive play while continuing to participate at some practices. I felt it was easier for rosters to be made without me rather than pulling my name from them midway through the quarter as a surprise.
When I found out I was pregnant, I chose not to tell my league until after I was out of the 12 week danger zone. During that time, I continued to skate lightly at speed practices and on my own whenever the track was empty (usually on bout day before the teams started warming up). I did some off-skates workouts (aka- gym. boring.) and tried to stay as active as possible, without jeopardizing the baby’s health.
I continued to remain a volunteer while pregnant. Luckily for me, Carolina hosted regionals that year so I was able to play a role in helping organize and run that tournament, since I didn’t have to focus on my training. Doing that made me feel likeI was still a huge part of the league, even though I couldn’t skate.
The thing that helped me the most was watching bouts on DNN. Observation is a HUGE training tool that kept me in the loop with national strategy and skill level. Watching all the leagues play, watching all the different strategies and trends coming from a lot of newer leagues really gave me a new perspective on the direction derby was heading. So being able to stay the loop really helped me contribute to our league’s training (mainly B Team training). Even if it was only through casual conversation, I still felt connected.
The bun is done! Congratulations, you have baby! So now that you are able to skate, should you? This can only be answered by you of course, but that won’t stop me from putting my opinion in the mix.
First thing to remember:
Derby will be here, so why rush it? Going from wife/girlfriend/single woman to becoming a mom is a HUGE step. In the first few months your body and mind are adjusting to this new change. Your ligaments are still loose due to your body getting ready for labor. Like literally, looser than usual. So rushing back into falls and contact is a lot riskier than it was before baby and after any other type of injury.
So what can you do to keep active and come back?
If your league offers them, go to speed/endurance practices to regain endurance. Work at your own pace, which is actually much harder than it sounds. The old you wants to jumps back in and be greedy by pushing the limits… you want to sprint before your body is ready, you want to line up in the speed line where you used to be, you want to beat the same skaters you used to beat at races… but the reality is, they have been training in those months that your body was creating a baby. Take it slow in the beginning. Be humble. It is not only good for your body but for your patience and mind. It’s hard to swallow the “I’m not as good as I use to be” pill. But shit, you didn’t swallow the birth control pill, so something has to give. Just sayin’.
Another option to returning safely is off-skates workouts and training. If there are cardio classes you can attend to get your heart rate really high, that would be a great way to transition back into derby. Or you can get some workouts online or DVDs that really make you sweat and want to puke.
Some “Me” Time:
If you’re like me, derby was your life before your child and you need to know how to fit it in after child. This is somewhat tricky, since it is based a lot on your partner’s or babysitter’s availability.
Don’t think you’re being selfish by wanting to get back in to the derby life/league. It is a healthy outlet. In my case, it helped with postpartum depression. Getting out of the house and feeling like you again is healthy for the whole family. Not to mention, the exercise is wonderful for mental and physical health!
Finding your place again in the league can be a challenge. If you were someone who did a lot of league work, you may have to pick and choose what committees/events to be a part of instead of trying to do them all. If you jump back in and commit yourself to a ton of work, you’re going to burn yourself out by trying to juggle family, derby, and in a lot of cases, returning to work.
Another good option is trying to find jobs that you can bring your baby and family to, like parades, bout set up, and volunteer appreciation events. Believe it or not, you now have a HUGE pool of babysitters willing to take the little one off your hands for 10 minutes. Be thankful and take advantage of them. They don’t mind! 😉
Returning to competitive play is something that is solely up to you. However, there are issues that the mother can not control, like how easy/hard the labor was for the mother and child. Some women can pop a baby out and be fine in a few days. Other women have some difficulties that hinder their ability to heal as fast. In cases like that, it is really important you do everything you need to off skates before pushing yourself to get back to the derby skater you were pre-baby.
I would say, as a general rule, give your new life a good 6-9 months of extreme focus and put derby on the back burner. Go to practices and slowly work yourself back into the league and get your body slowly back to where it used to be. Allow your partner to get used to being the sole caregiver while you’re at practices and put your name in for Home Team games and/or B Team games. Rushing back onto the All Star roster usually isn’t the best decision for you or your league.
Once you have worked your way through Home Team games, B Team games, and the family is conditioned to your absence, then that would be the time to sit down with yourself and figure out where you want to go. Do you want to stay on home teams for another few months? Do you enjoy the low pressure of the B Team? Do you want to be challenged more? Are you ready to commit to being a reliable member of your All Star team (which means being able to travel and train a lot harder than you have been)?
If your decision is to go for the All Star roster then know that you cannot expect to be at the same level as you were before baby. If you played 3 of 5 jams beforehand and you come back and only get 1 of 5, be thankful! Be understanding and humble. Just like in the beginning, you earn everything you get…you deserve nothing. Working your ass off to get back to the 3 of 5 jams is sooo much more rewarding than it being handed to you without effort put forth.
To end it all, you (the skater/mom/wife/girlfriend) make the final decision on who the new you is in life, on and off the track. Don’t feel pressured or allow others to make the decision for you. Your body is the only one you have to answer to.