As Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio sat courtside, ice packs jammed down her bra in an attempt to ease the throbbing pain from breastfeeding, she thought about how much she'd underestimated life as a mum.
It wasn't exactly planned and it had taken time for her to adjust to the news that she was pregnant.
All of a sudden, a daunting question mark hovered over her netball career.
She'd been in the Silver Ferns environment for a couple of years and with a Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup on the horizon, the timing couldn't have been worse.
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She faced the unknown but one thing was for sure, she still had too much to give netball to call it quits.
"It couldn't be that difficult", she thought. Wishful thinking, she now concludes.
Ekenasio would hit the peaks of her sport again, but not before brutal bouts of anxiety, introspection and post-natal depression.
"It was a real slap in the face to realise how hard it actually was, the road getting back," Ekenasio says.
"I'd always planned on returning really quickly but had no idea what I was really in for."
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Black Sticks great Gemma McCaw, on the other hand, never anticipated a return to international hockey after giving birth.
With all her body had endured through pregnancy, childbirth and caring for a newborn baby, it seemed far too unrealistic.
If being a high-performance athlete was already tough, just how much harder would it be now?
"You're put right back to square one," says McCaw.
"I went from being able to exercise rigorously and being able to train really hard to not being able to do much at all."
Her teammate, Kayla Whitelock, faced a similar predicament.
She thought barely being able to run for 30 seconds before needing to catch her breath was hard enough.
But that's before she tried doing it with a hockey stick in hand.
"I was tripping over my feet, my mind was doing one thing and my body was doing a totally different thing," Whitelock says.
"It was just that loss of connection."
Meanwhile on the basketball court, Tall Fern Ashleigh Karaitiana was "face-planting" during shuttle runs after the extra weight from breastfeeding left her feeling unbalanced and top-heavy.
Three-month-old Kalea would then start crying, and as vital as it was, training was scrapped.
"It was very frustrating," she says.
But it never got the better of Karaitiana, nor did any challenge stop these women from successfully returning to the highest level of their sport.
These are the stories of life behind the scenes.
The life of being a super-mum.
Other than labour itself, McCaw ranks her return to sport as one of the toughest things she's ever done.
It's part of the reason why she didn't plan on returning at all after she'd called time on her hockey career at the conclusion of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
She stepped away from the sporting scene, married long-time partner and former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, before falling pregnant with Charlotte.
She had everything she wanted post-career, but there was still a nagging voice in the back of her mind that whispered: "what if?"
Four months after giving birth, McCaw was asked to fill in at a club hockey game which only encouraged that voice to grow louder.
"I crossed the line out onto the field and I had that white-line fever again," McCaw says.
"That's where it all started."
With the Tokyo Olympic Games looming and a sense of unfinished business on the hockey turf, McCaw knew it was now or never.
But although her mind was up to the task, her body was far from it.
"The physical side was tough," she says.
"I kept pretty fit throughout my pregnancy so it helped on the other side, so to speak, but you definitely have to take it slow and listen to your body."
McCaw eased back into conditioning week by week, increasing her workload gradually.
She was forced to work around other challenges too, such as functioning on a lack of sleep and creating a consistent routine for Charlotte - factors which forced her to think outside the box.
"The difficult thing to balance was the feeding and the training and the sleeping and getting all of that into a good routine, so that was definitely hard," she says. "Being a mum, you actually train a little bit smarter. You don't have hours on end so what you do, you have to get in and do as well as you can. It gives you that perspective."
Looking back, Whitelock admits she hit the gym a little bit too early.
But like McCaw, having drawn the curtain on her career with successive fourth-place Olympic finishes was enough fuel for her mind to lead her body.
The former Black Sticks captain started basic training just six weeks after giving birth to second child Maxwell, before hitting the hockey turf two months later.
"I probably should have done more conditioning first and then gone through with the hockey in terms of that balance," she admits.
"You forget about things like when you go and pick up your baby and often have them on your hip, and then your back starts to deteriorate because the heavy load of carrying them around on top of what you're doing in the gym.
"[But] it was just about re-introducing me to the training … making small steps rather than trying to break records straight off the bat."
Karatitiana was in a similar boat, with her doctor advising her to wait at least six weeks before re-attempting physical activity.
Problem was, the new mum and Tall Ferns guard had just a month to be court-ready or risk missing her shot to play for New Zealand in the Asia Cup.
Karatitiana decided against the advice - probably not the smartest call in hindsight she says, laughing.
"The rapid change in coming back was the hardest," she says. "Obviously we have that muscle memory after having done it for so long but just dropping the weight while also trying to take care of a newborn and still breastfeed with training was tough.
"My body knew what it was supposed to do but I still had to take that time to build up the muscle that was required to perform at a high level.
"I think if I waited a bit longer – six or eight, or ten weeks – my training would have been much more rapid and probably taken less of a toll on my body."
Karatitiana struggled to drop enough weight in order to run easily again, with her initial decision to continue breastfeeding Kalea backfiring.
Already more top-heavy than most of the women in her team, Karatitiana often caught herself tripping over her own feet.
"I was extra heavy. That just threw off my balance," she says. "I was trying to sprint but that just threw me off, the top half of my body would be going more forward and sometimes I would trip at training. It was funny but very frustrating.
"It was like my brain was telling me to do one thing but my body couldn't physically do that thing.
"I needed to get my breasts reduced a bit by less milk, which helped a lot."
Karatitiana made the call to switch Kalea to formula as early as five months in order to help restore her body's balance. Fortunately, it worked, and she was able to clock enough court time to be eligible for Tall Ferns selection, and tour India.
With Kalea too young to be left behind, the team was set to embark on a New Zealand first.
Kalea, along with Tall Fern Natalie Taylor's baby Charlotte, travelled with the side, thanks to Basketball New Zealand covering the costs for the two mums to take carers of their choice for extra support.
"Having that extra person there to let me be able to perform and not let the baby be too much of a distraction was great," Karatitiana says.
She says having Kalea around brought far more joy than stress.
"For the most part, she was fulfilling joy for everyone that everyone needed at the right time," she says. "Especially the coach, it meant that he wasn't too angry all the time."
Whitelock's first international tour as a mum came when first-born Addison was 10 months old.
She too was joined by a support person - her mother - as the team travelled to Argentina.
Things went relatively smoothly, however, on the following trip to Darwin, Whitelock decided it was best to leave Addison home so she could remain settled.
"That was really tough to leave her for three to four weeks at a time," Whitelock says.
"It's definitely a balancing act … It takes a lot of logistics and being adaptable and flexible along the way and making decisions that are right at that time versus trying to plan too far ahead.
"There's no way I would be able to do it without the family support."
Ekenasio didn't have the luxury of family to help her.
Her immediate family remained in Australia after she'd moved to play in New Zealand. She had also sadly lost both her mother and grandmother before son Ocean's birth.
She and husband Damien weren't able to fund travelling as a family for the Silver Ferns' international tours either, often leaving Ekenasio alone in a challenging environment.
"I really did feel really isolated. I was the only mother in [the team] for a while so I didn't feel like there was too many people I could go to for help, or for support, or who'd been on a similar journey who were still in it," Ekenasio says.
"I ended up with really, really severe post-natal depression.
"I didn't have any family around me, so that was one of the hardest parts of it. I was battling in my mind, battling internally and also physically on the outside too.
"It was just a really hard journey where I felt like I wasn't supported and wasn't understood.
"Not only was I a first-time mum trying to figure everything out, but it was my first time trying to figure out how I return to netball, and then how they marry together."
Although noting the mental and emotional aspects to life as a mum were the toughest, Ekenasio says the challenge of returning to her physical best was what she underestimated the most.
She became obsessed with trying to become the athlete she was prior to giving birth, admitting frustration got the better of her at times.
"Even if I trained hard, my body would be just so sore because it wasn't used to it," she says. "I couldn't recover as well and then when I was still feeding [Ocean] and he'd obviously strip everything out of my body so it kind of felt like I was working double time, but only getting about a quarter the amount of benefits from it.
"[But] I didn't want to be thought of as just a mum returning and that I couldn't be as good as I was before. That kind of drove me insane.
"I felt like I had something to prove as a mother returning to sport. I felt really fiercely determined to prove those stereotypes wrong."
Now a Netball World Cup gold medalist, Silver Ferns captain, and one of the most threatening shooters on the international netball scene, Ekenasio knows it's all been worth it.
She still feels there's work to be done around the perception of female athletes, however - a stance Whitelock passionately shares.
"Females are often looked upon a bit differently than males," Whitelock says. "Males wouldn't second-guess coming back into a national team whereas females probably have to think about everything else that goes around with that - and then there's that perception that we should just be mums.
"I think that's changing a little bit and we can still push for that if the willingness and the ability is still there that anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and have that support.
"You get to still do what you want to do as well as having a family that you love and are supporting you and are right behind you."
Despite the varying challenges faced, one thing every athlete-turned-mother-turned-athlete-and-mother can agree on is that having a baby adds perspective.
Standing on the top of the podium isn't the most important thing in the world any more; because setting an example of overcoming failure is worth more, and disappointing results become easier to accept.
Sleep is certainly never taken for granted and an immense appreciation for what the human body can endure is found.
Karaitiana believes she's actually a better athlete now than before.
"I know I've already been through so much, including giving birth, so I don't think anything will be harder than that," she says.
"No matter what happens on the court I could be happy knowing I get to have [Kalea] after the game. Just seeing her face, seeing her smile just makes me want to push that extra mile to compete at a higher level, do better and not have any excuses or reasons why I didn't play well."
Having failed countless times trying to perfectly balance life as a mum and Silver Fern, Ekenasio says she's restructured the unrealistic standards she once had for herself.
"As women, we put ourselves under a high amount of pressure to be perfect but when you're a mum, it feels like nothing's perfect," Ekenasio says.
"I look at things a little bit differently now; things that probably used to rile me up in the past don't so much anymore because I obviously have something that's more important than a lot of the stuff that sometimes, as athletes, is so important to us."
Although undecided on whether the balancing act gets easier or she's just getting better at managing it, there's one thing Ekenasio is sure of: it changes your world.
"I was so driven to be the athlete that I was before, without an appreciation of the new athlete I would be.
"You're not just a mum and you're not just an athlete anymore. You're both. There's no separating it."