The Winter Olympics in Sochi start tomorrow (well, competition starts today, but Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow). I’ve loved the Olympics since I was a little girl – Summer or Winter, it never mattered. I was intrigued. My earliest Olympic memories are of Nadia Comaneci. But I loved it all…..hockey, bobsled, luge, ski jumping, swimming, diving, gymnastics, ice skating….I could watch it all.
On September 6, 2000, I was admitted to the hospital at 23 weeks 4 days pregnant, bleeding and contracting. It was a Wednesday night. In the middle of that first night, I was moved to a hospital that could “handle a 23-weeker” (at the time, I didn’t understand what they meant. My baby wasn’t coming. It was too soon). The bleeding continued. I was on strict hospital bedrest. By Monday, the specialists decided I was there for the until I reached 32 weeks, or delivered, whichever came first. Home was too far away from the hospital should anything go wrong. Baby and I were both in danger. I faced 9+ weeks in the hospital. I settled in for the stay.
Nine days after I was admitted, the Sydney Olympics opened. I was SO thankful. The medication I was on to control the contractions made it impossible to do much besides watch television. Reading and holding conversations were beyond my ability. One can only take so much daytime television without going looney. There was about a five hour break between the Today Show and Rosie O’Donnell. But when the Olympics started, my days were full. I watched every hour of televised Olympics from 7am to 11pm every single day. I watched events I’d never seen before. Beach volleyball was new at the time. I’d never been hugely interested by the track and field events, but even they held my attention. But I watched it all. Those Olympics helped the long, boring, lonely, stifling days pass more quickly.
Our son was born a week after the start of those Sydney Summer Olympics, at exactly 26 weeks gestation. I was stuck at my hospital for five more days while the doctors figured out how to treat my life-threatening staph infection. Those Olympics continued to keep me company, along with Matt, Katie, Al, Ann, Rose, and Oprah. I didn’t see the end, the closing ceremonies though. By then, I’d been released and was spending all my waking moments at the NICU with my precious, struggling-for-life boy.
That boy is now 13 years old. He too has a particular obsession with the Olympics. He will sit with me for hours watching event after event. He and I started the countdown to Sochi as soon as the last Summer Olympics ended. I think he took it in while he and I lay there in that hospital 13 years ago. I firmly believe his subconscious retains that bond. Maybe I just genetically passed it on to him. Whatever, I get weepy when he sits next to me, entranced by the athletes, the medal ceremonies, the national anthems, the glory of accomplishment. The memories, now distant and colored by his miraculous survival, flood back. I will always tie those days of hospital bedrest to the Olympics, but that’s okay. I had my son with me then, and I have him still with me now.
What Olympic memories do you have? What are your favorite events?