updated 10/23/2012 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 10/23/2012 AT 8:00 AM ET
While most of the couples on Dancing with the Stars put energy into nailing their Monday night routine, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani were focused on something much more serious – the reality star’s well-being.
“It’s been an emotional couple of days,” Rycroft, 29, told reporters after successfully completing the group dance to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” that gave her a herniated disk neck injury during rehearsal.
Dovolani initially feared the worst.
“She’s a mom, and as a parent, you don’t wish that type of injury on any other parent because the first thing that crossed my mind was, ‘Is she ever going to be able to pick up her baby again?’ ” Dovolani tells PEOPLE. “That guilt kills you. She’s okay and I’m happy. Melissa has become a close family friend now, so her safety was my No. 1 concern.”
Her pain aside, Rycroft also stressed over whether or not doctors would allow her to take the risk of competing.
“Yesterday we didn’t have clearance to dance, so coming into today, we just were happy to be able get out there,” she says. “What I was told is it was not an option to just sit out one night. So if I didn’t get clearance and the injury was severe enough, they weren’t going to let me back into the competition.”
Rycroft, who says, “When the adrenaline wears off is when you stars to feel the pain,” feels good about the outcome of the performance.
“We were tentative,” she says. “And yeah, I didn’t move my neck probably as much as I should have, but at least I’m happy we were given the opportunity to go on with this.”