Why a DWTS Pro Thought Their Career Was Over

Getty Keo Motsepe, Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold, Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Sharna Burgess

“Dancing With the Stars” professional dancer Witney Carson has opened up about a time when she thought she would never dance again. Read on to find out how she coped with all of the obstacles thrown her way during pregnancy and delivery, plus how having a baby changed her whole perspective about herself.

Witney Carson’s Birth Recovery Was So Difficult She Thought She’d Never Dance Again

In an Instagram interview with Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife of actor Chris Pratt, Carson spoke at length about how difficult her first pregnancy was. Carson and her husband Carson McAllister welcomed baby Leo in January 2021. But the birth and recovery from her emergency C-section were so hard that she thought her career as a dancer was over.

“It scared me so bad. I thought my career was over, I thought my dancing career was over. I was in a wheelchair, I was so defeated,” said Carson, adding, “It really took a long time for me [to recover from my C-section]. I remember walking up the stairs to my bedroom after coming home and I couldn’t even do it … I started crying and thought, ‘I’m never gonna dance again.’ That’s all that was going through my mind.”

In the Instagram post announcing the birth of baby Leo, Carson talked about her “really hard 24-hour labor” and “unexpected C-section,” but said that they were “grateful” everyone was “healthy and well.”

But it wasn’t that simple. In Schwarzenegger Pratt’s Instagram post about the Q&A, she gave fans more details about what Witney went through delivering her baby boy.

Schwarzenegger Pratt wrote:

Thank you so much to the amazing Witney for joining me today to talk all about her giving birth with Covid and her postpartum experience. For many reasons, Witney’s labor did not go to plan. First, at the hospital, she tested positive for Covid when admitted. Then, after hours of attempting a vaginal delivery, her son was stuck beneath her pelvis, requiring an emergency c-section. After birth, Witney was not able to walk right away and had trouble being patient with her body’s recovery. She stopped being so hard on herself, especially as her focus is now on something and someone so important, Leo.

During the Q&A, Carson went on to say that she had to lean on her husbanda lot and learn to celebrate the tiny victories.

“There are so many emotional mental obstacles that you have to go through and physically on top of all that, it was really hard. I really had to lean on my husband … it was just trying to find, honestly, celebrating the small successes,” said Carson. “Each day, just being like, ‘OK, I fed my baby today.’ That was my success … just focusing on him and what my new role is. … I think that’s the way I stayed sane.”

And even having gone through all that, Carson said she is “so excited to have another baby.”

Carson Said The Whole Ordeal Changed Her Entire Body Image

As a dancer, Carson said that she’s been used to people critiquing her body her entire life and therefore she became really critical of her own body, which was hard when she didn’t come home from the hospital bouncing right back from her pregnancy.

“In that moment, I was like, ‘I just want to walk.’ My perspective on my body image completely flipped and I was like, ‘I just want to get healthy. I just wanted to walk,'” said Carson, adding, “I was thankful that I could even walk, things we just take for granted every single day. In that moment, my perspective completely changed on body image and I was so focused on getting health from the inside.”

She also said that she wishes she could tell herself how amazing she was in that moment in time and not to worry about how her body looked.

“I wish so badly I knew what I know now and just telling that girl, looking in the mirror at her postpartum body, you are so amazing. You just birthed a beautiful healthy baby, don’t be so hard on yourself,” said Carson. “Just celebrating the small successes was my big thing of how I fought through that, just taking it day by day.”

The dancer also admitted that while social media can be both a good thing and a bad thing, in her time of need, it was so important to hear from other women who were or had previously experienced what she was going through.

“Being open about it and seeing the community of people, I feel like people came to me and were like, ‘I’m so glad you posted that, I feel the same way, it made me feel so good’ and I’m like, ‘No, you made me feel good!’ … the people in the social media community that were like, ‘You know what? This is totally normal’ — you made me feel like I was normal,” said Carson.

She added, “It gave me a newfound confidence of a different role in my life. I’m not just a dancer, but I’m also a mom and that’s the greatest role that I could ever — it’s obviously hard — but it’s also the greatest. It gave me a newfound confidence. I love what I’m capable of doing rather than what I look like. And obviously, that takes a lot of time and I still have some days where man, I’m so hard on myself, but I just try to remember the things that matter most, the inner beauty.”

“Dancing With the Stars” returns for season 31 in the fall of 2022 on Disney Plus.

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