February 27, 2024

Are you afraid to be a mother for fear of losing what you love?

Aerial arts or motherhood. Do I have to choose?

I envy people who have 100% unwavering clarity on whether or not they want to be parents. The uncertainty can be incredibly tortuous. For the past four years, I’ve often found myself yearning for that kind of clarity, which may seem odd once you hear about the experiences I’ve had during this period. I’ll share a part of it with you, and based on recent conversations with other aerialists, it seems like this is a ripe topic for discussion. So, let’s delve into it.

Embarking on the journey to motherhood is a huge decision no matter who you are. It’s a game of surrender and the reward of love.

But how much do we let go of in our surrender? Let me rephrase that: how much do we lose? Even though we have mothers everywhere to look to and see how they do it, it feels impossible to know how it will be FOR YOU.

Now compound this life changing decision with the added layer that you are an aerialist.

What does that matter? There are several aspects that are in conflict between doing aerial and being a mother.


Aerial can demand a heavy time commitment. We need time to keep our conditioning, learn new things, teach (if we teach) and perform (if we perform). Babies and children also take a LOT of time. So is their time in direct conflict with our time if we welcome them into our lives? I don’t know about you, I barely have enough time to do all the things I love already. How is having a kid going to square with this?

Body Freedom

“Body Freedom” is a term that captures the essence of having unrestricted access to your body and the freedom to use it as you please. Welcoming a baby into your life can temporarily compromise this freedom, especially in terms of maintaining peak physical fitness. The process of regaining strength and fitness after childbirth entails a significant comeback period. The effort required to resume and advance in your physical capabilities is substantial. The question that arises: are you willing to take on that kind of setback?

The Lifestyle

Being an aerialist entails a wealth of exciting experiences, including gigs, travel, retreats, workshops, and meet-ups. The question that naturally arises is whether it’s feasible to continue participating in these activities with a baby in tow. Can you seamlessly integrate your little one into the dynamic lifestyle of an aerialist, balancing the demands of parenthood with the pursuit of your passion?


Financial stress has consistently been a factor influencing people’s decisions regarding parenthood, and this holds true in our industry as well. When your costs go up with your wee one, not only might you have to defend your time in going to aerial class, but also justify the cost. If you are an instructor or performer, how will you manage financially while pregnant and in the first months. Freelancers, at least in the States don’t get maternity pay and in many countries there is varying degree of support. How will you manage?


So with all of the above challenges why would anyone consider being a parent?

Everyone has their own story. But I’d say for me I’d chalk it up simply to a biological urge – a force to be reckoned with! It’s a life force surging through your body in the form of hormones which changes the way you feel, you think, you’re very identity. It’s no fucking joke.

In my early 30’s I started getting things I called “baby flutters”. It would come over randomly and there’s no way to describe it other than a calling to have a baby. A need to look after someone, hold them, watch them, enjoy them, love them. But I also noted that I would have “baby shudders”. Moments where I thought “thank fuck I don’t have a kid!” I observed myself and noted that baby flutters were usually around in the middle part of my cycle, circling the time of ovulation and the baby shudders arrived a few days before my period. I knew it was simply a hormonal thing, and not enough reason to halt my aerial career for. I often thought of it as “that thing I’d get to someday”. And if there was ever a time in my life where the baby flutters lasted more than one cycle, then I’d have beat biology and it would be a real instinct coming from the individual of me, not just my chemistry.

Well that time hit me in early 2020. I think it did a lot of people at that time, as many of us got shaken from our aerial lives and we did conditioning in our living rooms by doing odd things with household objects. It came on quickly, at first a whisper and then a scream. It not only felt important, but it felt urgent. I did my thing of sitting with it for 2 months, sure enough it was still there.

An example of hope

At the same time, we got a message from a lovely student from England who reached out and said, “Have you ever considered doing your aerial teacher training online? I always wanted to take your course, but it’s not possible because I’m a single parent.”

Orly Phillips, a gorgeous aerialist who lives on a boat in middle England parked in a canal with her (then) 2 year old son was the impetus for us to consider putting our teacher training online.

Rain and I spent the rest of the pandemic working harder than I think we’ve ever worked to translate all of our apparatus across 2 levels into a remote format while maintaining the quality of our in-person training.

The program grew and adapted and got refined and finessed (we are still updating always! ‘cause that’s our MO) But the very first Beta version was joined by Orly, and she did aerial with us while her son rode his tricycle in circles around her mat while she was in the air, and breast fed during the discussions. Since then we’ve had other awesome aerial mama’s joining our courses in a similar fashion!

And I thought, maybe this is the way! I don’t have to give up aerials. I can just do it differently for a little while. I can reach students and connect with the greater community and I can still be in the scene. I don’t have to lose it all.

The two headed person

But it still was not that simple. Even with the biological urge waking me in the night and tapping me on the shoulder throughout the day, even though I had an avenue of possibility in front of me, it was still complicated. I wanted to do it, but I felt scared. Really scared!

I had full-on debates and battles in my head. I became two people. There was The Maiden, the still skateboarding 38 year old who wanted to travel the world and be free. She used reason, which was actually quite intelligent and calculated and convinced me that motherhood was not for me in this lifetime. Then there was The Mother, she soothed the maiden, and told her she would be different but not lost, that there was love beyond understanding, there was joy and a lifetime of being a witness, which value is far beyond any self driven experience could possibly be.

I felt exhausted, confused and a need to urgently get to a solution either way. I didn’t want to exist in this debate. I wanted to just move on with my life whichever way it took.

The Jump

As a kid growing up in Maine, we spent our summers jumping off high places into cool water: rail bridges into rivers, cliffs into the ocean, rope swings from the riverbank. I can’t stand the feeling of fear just before the jump. So instead of standing there looking down, my tactic was always to jump as soon as I could, after the first jump it was easy.

The to and fro of the mother and maiden drove me mad. To save my mind, I decided to jump.

It was such a relief to know that I was doing it. I walked around in a cloud of joy. I was doing it! We got pregnant fairly quickly, there was no return now. Those first two months were filled with hope and joy and certainty. I had my first midwife appointment at 11 weeks and I had my first scan booked for the following week.

Then strange things happened. I told my partner that I thought “she was quiet” My partner, said, “Of course. They are like the size of a grape or something.” And it was true I had never felt them move, you have to be much further along for that. But it was an energetic thing. I just kept telling him. She’s quiet. During this time, I remember walking to the shop and while crossing the road I saw a woman crossing towards me, a two year old holding her hand and a large baby bump. And I felt the strangest feeling. Jealousy. Why was I jealous? I was pregnant!

I found out the next week at the scan that I’d lost the baby.

Of course there is grief. There is also anger. But there is also science and I knew not every pregnancy is a success. I thought of this loss as statistical dues. I paid my dues, the next one would be a sure thing.

But our second baby also ended in loss. Anger was the predominant feeling with this one. Another was spite. Fuck it then. I won’t have a baby! How cruel to have stood on that cliff twice and bravely go for it, then find your feet still standing on the cliff edge.

I decided I would pour myself into my work, I trained hard, denied myself food to get lean, carved back anything I could. The maiden was in full force, pissed off at having to have had so many conversations with that damn Mother.

She came back though. It took a full year for her to return, but she did, at first just a soft whisper.

It would be nice if this is where the story ends. But it’s not. I had two more miscarriages. Each one threw me back into the debate with myself. Also for my partner who is a professional musician, with each loss we were back at square 1. Do we want to do this? And I also had the added disturbance that the losses were a sign that I shouldn’t be a mom. And maybe even because of my internal conflict. Was my indecisiveness a reason for the miscarriages? Did I bring this on myself?

I’m now pregnant again. Baby #5 has made it to week 17 so far. When you’ve had as much loss as I have there is no certainty until the baby is in your arms. So the question remains will I be a mum, even though my waistline is growing fast.

I told a friend and colleague the other day our news, she was elated and said, “Sarah I’m so happy for you, you wanted this so badly.” I felt really confused by this statement. And then I realized that unless you share what goes on behind the scenes, if you keep getting pregnant people assume you are on a single minded mission filled with clarity and purpose.

I know what it’s like to walk the hard path of uncertainty and live in the fear of losing what you love because of the strange desire to have a child.

Oh aerialists. It’s not easy. No one can answer it for you, no matter how many people you ask. But talking about it does help.

I was blown away at how much our community had to say on this subject (you!) The discussion was heartfelt, honest, and vibrant. Check out our IG Story Highlights where aerialists mums, never-to-be mums, and mums maybe-to-be share their feelings.