England player Chelsea Pitman shared a heartfelt post on December 31, documenting the challenges she and her husband faced in 2020. The 32-year-old said she wanted to be open about miscarriage to bring more awareness, start a conversation and heal further herself.
By Emma Thurston
“Being an athlete, my body is my job and usually, does what it is told to do (trained to do). But, one thing my body has failed at multiple times is pregnancy. I never ever thought this would be the case or realise how absolutely devastating every loss is.”
Chelsea Pitman’s social media post at the turn of the new year was open and raw.
In it, she shared the reality of her and her husband’s 2020, with an image taken of her in hospital after an ectopic pregnancy. In the post, she also spoke of going through a miscarriage earlier that year and the devastation that she felt about her body ‘failing’ at pregnancy.
The experiences Pitman speaks of, around struggles to conceive, miscarriage and loss, sadly are not rare ones. The hurt and anguish felt by the elite netballer and her husband is replicated across many households around the world.
For Pitman, she was clear that in revealing what had happened to them in 2020, she was not asking for condolences, instead she had opened up in a bid to help others.
“I’m sharing this part of my 2020 not for sympathy,” Pitman said.
“I am sharing in the hope of bringing more awareness, start a conversation and in turn maybe help me heal some more.
“I also never shared it because I was scared of the negativity I may get, around being a contracted athlete and falling pregnant. But people need to remember I’m also a human and a woman.”
Pitman has been at the top of netball’s elite game for many years now. After qualifying to play for England through her father, who was born in Dorset, she made her Roses debut in 2017 in Durban.
Speaking to Sky Sports during the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, Pitman hailed the work of Tracey Neville in helping her to re-find her love of the game and in opening the door to a new international route.
“I feel such a sense of belonging and welcoming [from the Roses] and my uniqueness and weirdness is accepted,” Pitman said. “My style of play flourishes and is nourished, it’s amazing. The culture, the people, the girls – it’s one of a kind.”
Alongside a mutual passion for the game of netball, sadly Neville and Pitman are both familiar with the subject Pitman spoke about at the turn of the year; miscarriage.
Neville had already spoken about the fact that the greatest moment of her professional career – England’s Commonwealth Games’ gold – arrived alongside huge tragedy for her and her partner Michael, as she had a miscarriage the day after the final in Australia.
It was not Neville’s only miscarriage, but after their hurt, joy finally arrived with baby Nev being born on March 3, 2020.
When both Neville and Pitman shared their words with the world, those involved in the sport of netball enveloped them with compassion and support.
Pitman’s second miscarriage happened during an international netball series, the Quad Series last January, and Neville’s successor Jess Thirlby was there for her.
“I still remember leaving for England knowing this would be my last netball game for quite some time,” Pitman said. “My parents flew over to watch. Oops you wasted your money mum and dad, sorry (!) but all jokes aside, that sucked.
“I switched off to focus on training and performing and didn’t really allow what was happening to hit me. I just wanted to get home to my husband.
“The support I received on tour from Jess and my England team-mates was phenomenal and allowed me to play as best I could.”
Pitman and her husband are based in Australia and when it comes to domestic netball, she has been integral to Adelaide Thunderbirds’ campaigns.
The 32-year-old has been their co-captain for the past two years and it was a surprise to so many to find out that she had not been offered a contract by the club for the 2021 season.
“I want to keep sharing but I also have so much more to say/share and this post is long enough already,” she said at the end of her post.
“I am blessed with an amazing husband, beautiful stepdaughter, epic family and friends, that have been there for me when I’ve needed them.
“Let’s just say hub life was a tough one with my body, hormones, head and heart going through what it was, with also wanting to perform my best for my team.
“2020 you’ve made me stronger, wiser, bit more jagged but I am still thankful for you.”