Before You Begin
For me and for many other skaters I know, when I started considering if now was the right time to start a family, I considered my derby career as part of the equation. This might sound crazy if you’re not in roller derby. My sister has made that abundantly clear. People outside derby will often remind you – roller derby is your hobby. It is not your life. But if you’re deep in it, like I was, that’s not entirely true.
I won the award for most practices attended in my league last season. I put in time off skates to cross train and on skates to work on skills and I watched footage and spent time visualizing. Like just about everyone in this sport, I invested time and money into traveling and volunteering with my league. That’s more than just a hobby.
So when it was time to think about getting pregnant, I asked myself — is this a good time in my derby career? Luckily for me, I asked this out loud while standing next to my partner. Would we rather wait and accomplish other things first (like career things, travel things, and things on 8 wheels) or would we like to start a family? For us, my doctors advised against waiting any longer to get started, so the point was fairly moot. For other skaters, I’d encourage you to have this conversation with your partner. They probably understand how important derby is to you and what it means to walk away from it for a season. My partner and I still spent many hours discussing it. It had been a hard season for me, one filled with as much frustration as exhilaration, where the majority of games ended with tears in the shower. Did I want to end on that note? Did I want to delay becoming a mom for another season of the same? If next season was my best yet, would it be worth putting off kids?
After I made the decision to start trying, the next question was who to tell. Now, there are a lot of schools of thought on this. I know skaters on charters who stepped down from their team because they couldn’t guarantee they’d make it through the season, I have friends who told their league from the start that they were trying to get pregnant, and I have friends who told one or two people only. Who you tell is a really personal choice. In the context of derby, that means you are considering the consequences for you AND your team.
If you are a top skater on your team, you may wish to let captains or coaches know that you’re trying so they can start thinking about how they will handle your absence. That may also mean that you will be sat while they try to deepen the bench and prepare new skaters for the games you’ll eventually miss. If you’re at the bottom of your team, you may worry that you’ll be sat right away. You may find it most helpful to talk to a trusted teammate about what you think they would do if they knew someone might leave partway through the season.
But also remember – pregnancy is not a box that you check and suddenly you’re in the club. Some lady folk try for years to get pregnant with no luck. Others aren’t even trying when it happens. You may find yourself telling your coach that you’re planning on having a family and then not having it happen for a season or even two. Don’t make your decision based solely on the assumption that pregnancy will be very easy or very hard for you to achieve.
In the next blog I’ll talk more about how I handled the first trimester of pregnancy with derby still in my life.
#96 Susan B. Slamthony