Jade Knight: I am just trying to do my best, just like everyone else
To celebrate Mother's Day, we grabbed a chat with Saracens Women scrum-half Jade Knight.
In this Q&A, Jade tells us about mixed emotions she felt at finding out she was pregnant, the difficulties in balancing her time and achieving her rugby ambitions.
Q: You had just been called up to the Wales squad when you found out you were pregnant. What was your reaction at the time?
Jade Knight: It was a complete mixture of emotion when I found out that I was pregnant. I was really happy to be pregnant as I knew that was something I had always wanted.
However, I was a little bit frustrated with the timing, as I had just rehabbed back from a knee injury that had ruled me out of the previous Six Nations.
I was also terrified about the concept of giving birth, which I am sure many other women would feel the same in their pregnancies.
"To have him walk onto the pitch with me was amazing"
Q: How did you find initially, juggling your time as a parent alongside playing rugby and midwifery?
JK: Juggling midwifery and rugby is a challenge in its own right but when you add being a mother too it can become borderline impossible and definitely exhausting at times.
The emotional conflict that comes with the territory is very difficult, especially if Emrys cries when I need to leave for work or training.
But I fundamentally believe (rightly or wrongly) that if he sees how hard I have to work to achieve things, that it will in turn set his own expectations and inspire him for when he is older.
Q: Has it become easier to manage your time as the years have gone on? Or has it changed now that you are a qualified midwife?
JK: Usually I become more efficient the busier I am but over the last few years I have started to adjust and learn to prioritise my family.
Being able to work part-time as a midwife has given me a much nicer work-family balance. Which is really appreciated after several years of hard graft.
Q: How important has it been to have that support network of family and friends around you?
JK: I have been lucky to have an incredible support network over the last few years, and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve half of what I have without their help.
Q: Was it difficult physically to get back to the level you were at before you had Emrys?
JK: A year after having Emrys was the fittest I have ever been, the journey to get to that point was really frustrating as I had actually listen to my body and not push it - which was a real challenge.
It was at this point that I took the opportunity to have a major knee operation to see if it would enable me to play rugby again and it was that made the return to rugby difficult rather than the pregnancy.
Q: You got capped for the first time at the 2018 Six Nations, what was the moment like?
JK: Absolutely terrifying. I was so nervous. I literally drove my friend Rebecca De Filippo crazy in the car journey to Colwyn Bay, haha.
It really hit me when I pulled on the jersey before heading out of the changing room, that I was going to get my first cap after overcoming all of the setbacks. So, walking on the field for the anthems was quite emotional.
Q: You also had the chance to walk out onto the Principality Stadium with Emrys during the Six Nations that year. Can you put that into words what that moment was like?
JK: It was incredible, such a special moment and a memory that’s really precious. The lead up to the day I had been feeling a little bit torn about playing rugby and not being able to spend it with Emrys, so to have him walk onto the pitch with me was amazing.
Q: Women who have children and comeback to play at the highest level in sport are looked up to as role models. Do you feel that way about yourself or do you think other people give you that label?
JK: Haha, no, I don't consider myself to be a role model! I didn’t want to be forced to give up things in my life that I love doing because I had become a mother.
If that helps to start breaking social pressures and allow children to believe that they have way more potential than they realise, then brilliant. Honestly, I am just trying to do my best, just like everyone else.
Q: And how much does it mean to finish a match and have Emrys be one of the first people you see afterwards?
JK: To be honest I usually know he's at the game because when I come onto the pitch, I will hear him shout “Mummy, keep your hair on!” which really makes me laugh.
But yes, after the game it’s lovely to see his smile and hear his very interesting advice, even if he didn’t watch half the game!