For 23 years of my life, I was focussed solely on training. Train, train, train, train, train. When I wasn’t training, I was thinking about training. I would go to sleep and run over the last tactical session in my head. Training was my whole world.
And then I became a parent.
Being an athlete is hard, but being a mum is even harder. And I think it’s so important to talk about this, and to be open about it, because it’s our collective mental health we’re talking about.
I don’t think anyone knows what they’re getting into until they have kids. And I don’t think women get enough recognition for pregnancy: physically growing a human, your body as an incubator, trying to oven-cook this baby until it’s ready to come out. That’s a lot of work! It’s a huge effort. We really need to appreciate the lengths women go to, and the changes that happen to their bodies.
And it doesn’t end with the birth. Some women suffer from post-natal depression, and they keep it all inside. These are the things partners and the outside world often can’t see. The late nights. Night after night. Looking after a sleepless baby. It’s tough. Doable, but tough.
And about that toughness: I've been dealt a lot in my life. A lot. I've lost both my parents. I went through a divorce (a pretty ugly one). Had my son premature. And now he's been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It’s been incredibly difficult, but it’s also brought our family together.
It’s easy to think that life ends when you have children. As a woman, you think: this is my job, this is all I’m going to do now, stay home and look after the kids. But I’ve found having a career after children is 100% possible. You just have to believe in yourself and continue living your dream. Whatever that might be. For me, I wanted to continue being an athlete after I had my first baby, and I was lucky enough to compete at the Commonwealth Games six months after having Kimoana through the sunroof (for those who don't know, that’s when you have a C-Section, take the baby out and then…well, that's the sunroof.)