Until she gave birth, Megan Fairchild always felt like the master of her own body. "I can get my body to do anything," the New York City Ballet principal tells Refinery29. "Mind over matter." But six months ago, when Fairchild went into labor with her first child, Tullie, and learned that she would need a C-section, she had no choice but to let go of the familiar feelings of control, preparation, and perfectionism that had allowed her to excel in her career. "Nothing could prepare me for that," she says.
Having a C-section was humbling and frustrating, Fairchild says. "Afterwards I was like, Did I do all the right things? How come it happened to me that way? How come it happens easier for other people?" she recalls. Looking back, Fairchild says she was surprised by the amount of internalized C-section stigma she felt about her own experience. "I was fine with my story, but until I told it to someone else, I never realized how judged I was feeling," she says. This is one reason why she's been so open on social media about her C-section and recovering from diastasis recti, a condition that causes the abdominal muscles to separate during pregnancy.
After "a lot of shuffling around of thoughts and emotions," Fairchild says she's learned to embrace the story of her daughter's birth, even though it didn't go as she planned. Now, she's finding ways to bring this newfound energy and gratitude with her as she returns to performances.
On Tuesday, Fairchild took the stage at the David H. Koch Theater for New York City Ballet's spring season for the first time in 10 months. Refinery29 spoke to Fairchild on the day of her return, about motherhood, the joy of cross-training, and her hopes for baby Tullie.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.