Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roller Derby Defeats the Baby Blues

I love "that look" I get when I tell people that I skate roller derby. Especially when I emphatically announce how much I love it. They look me up and down and assess that there must be something not right in my head. I wonder why this is? I may only be 5'4" and weigh less than 150 lbs (and no, I'm not going to tell you my weight, because that's still a touchy subject), but that doesn't mean I'm not a threat on the track. Nor does it mean that I throw punches, "clothesline" other skaters, or purposefully trip them on the track. Roller derby is something that brings me (and many, many, many other women, I might add) a lot of happiness and joy.

It helped me survive post-partum depression.

I found roller derby October 2009. I had been a skating carhop for Sonic for years, and had moved on to a better-paying job. I had given birth to a little girl in September, and found myself missing skating and looking for a way to help shed the baby weight. I found roller derby. I instantly loved it. That whole first year was such an adrenaline rush, filled with women I came to care for a lot. I was hooked.

I found out late around October 2010 that I was pregnant with my fourth child. My husband and I have been lucky enough to be blessed with two boys, a girl and then-soon-to-be another girl. I was elated and deflated all at the same time. Even though it was currently the off-season, I knew there was no way I could play roller derby during the season while pregnant. I was happy to be adding to my family, but miserable that it meant I was missing out on so much of what I loved.

I tried to stay active and show up to games, but it was too painful to watch and not be out there skating. I distanced myself. I threw myself into work. Then, finally, the countdown began. I was getting close enough that I was able to easily count the weeks and days until I could skate again.

In June I had a beautiful baby girl, Abigail. I did not feel so beautiful when I looked in the mirror. That pregnancy had been the hardest on my body. I was carrying a lot of extra weight, and had an extremely stretched out, loose tummy. I didn't feel good about myself. I wanted to hide in my room all day and sleep. Logically, I knew I was just being emotional and petty, but I still couldn't shake the feelings of sadness and negativity that I was having. I felt like the real me had fled, and left me a shell that looked like a bigger Jello-jiggler Liz.

My first practice back was two weeks after giving birth. My doctor had given me my release, and I was nervous and excited. I had skills tests to pass so that I could play in the game in July. I cannot truly to put into words the feelings I had as my skates hit that rink floor. I was worried, nervous, scared and intimidated, felt fat and sluggish, but I was so giggly inside, elated and relieved that I still knew how to do it all. I passed all my tests without much effort, much to my surprise. Suddenly I felt pretty good about my body. It wasn't such a complete failure after all. Other skaters were surprised and shocked that I had returned so soon. They didn't realize it was simply because I was crazy—and roller derby was the only thing helping me feel better at the time.

Then came the game in July. I did well. Not awesome, but I felt GREAT afterwards. I know I wasn't as fast as I had been the year before, but I was also 30 pounds heavier. I wasn't as good at slipping through those holes in the pack, but then again I was a few inches wider. Those few days after the game, it didn't matter that I was slower or didn't score as many points. I had done it—and only six weeks after having had a baby, no less.

August came, and with it another game. My team lost. It didn't matter. I had felt awesome. I didn't care how many points I had scored. I took some really hard hits, I gave some really hard hits, and even chased two jammers down. My body still jiggled in places I was not happy about, the scale still read 25 pounds more than I wanted it to, and the season was over. But I was happy. I no longer felt like I had to hide in my bedroom, in my husbands clothes, with the door locked. Roller derby was my Prozac.

Notorious L.I.Z. is back, and so is my smile. Thank you, roller derby!


Jackie Ow said...

Love it and love you Liz! I'm glad I got to share your come back with you! You are a Royal Pain for LIFE!

Phogles said...

L.I.Z. you are the (wo)M.A.N.

Emigh Cannaday said...

Such an uplifting story! Thanks for sharing. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ah...thank you. with my doc's permission I've continued skating no contact, learned to ref, throughout my pregnancy, but in the last week I've had nagging doubts that I wouldn't bounce back as quick as I'm hoping to. This was encouraging. :)