My Olympic Moment; A Story of New Life
I spent close to twelve years of my life in a fully committed relationship with the sport of swimming. I remember watching the Olympic games in Sydney and I told myself that four years from then I would be in Athens. Suddenly I was training harder than I had ever before. Granted I was still only like twelve but I made sure at every practice I was the fastest and if anyone beat me there would be hell to pay at the next practice. Though I never did make an Olympic team, I strongly believe that my goal to make the team is the reason I went as high as I did in the sport. I ended up a division one athlete swimming four years for the University of the Arizona. Though there were some tough times in those four years, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I don’t see my swimming career as a failure, in fact, it is far from that. Swimming taught me discipline, leadership, commitment and dedication.
One of my most important swimming memories is not a race or a competition but a few words from my coach when I was 13. At a swim banquet my he told us something very important. He said of all the competitive swimmers in the United States only .01 will actually make an Olympic team. However, this statement was not meant to be a discouragement. He proceeded to say that though we may never go to the Olympics each one of us will have an “Olympic Moment” in our lives. We may never win a gold medal or watch the American flag raised while the anthem plays but our Olympic spotlight will shine one day.
The following story is my Olympic moment.
Nothing was going as I had planned in my head. I wasn’t the crazy pregnant lady who had a laminated birthing plan but I knew how I wanted things to go. What was happening was not what I had planned. The swelling in my hands, face, and feet had gotten so much worse within the course of a few days. So I guess I wasn’t surprised when I was checked into triage and the nurse told me that I was in the beginning of labor, but I was in a severe stage of preeclampsia. The only way to start getting my blood pressure down was to get the baby out. My plans of a natural birth were out the window. I had always told myself that labor was going to happen how God wanted it, but in the moment that I found out I had to be induced I was crushed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit relieved that being induced meant and epidural. The back contractions were horrible and the idea of being numbed to the pain was a welcomed thought. However, I still felt so broken over what was happening. It was a long night and I was in and out of sleep as the nurse came in every 15 minutes to check on me and the baby. My loving husband Andrew stayed close the whole time managing to snag a few hours here and there of very uncomfortable sleep. Even though I had been given the epidural things began to get painful again around 4 in the morning. From that point on, Peter and I were in the thick of battle. Andrew was by my side letting me give him the classic hand crushing every time I was in pain. Before I knew it the doctor rolled in at 6:50 a.m. and was telling me it was time to push. Honestly, pushing was the easiest part. In swimming I had to do countless sets with tight intervals, many practices were devoted to finding our threshold for pain and I did numerous sets that made me learn to hold my breath for ridiculous amounts of time. All my years of practices like those helped prepare me to push. It was set up just like a swim set. I had to hold my breath and push for 10 seconds 3 times and I was allowed to rest in between those sets of three. I’m not sure how many sets I had to do but I do know this; so many times in swimming I would be at the end of a set and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to finish, that I couldn’t go on, and I had nothing else to give. As my pushing came to an end I began to feel the same way, that this ordeal would never end and that my best just wasn’t good enough. As Andrew, the nurses and the doctor urged me on I suddenly remembered that for all the practices I was sure I wouldn’t complete…I remembered that I had. As Andrew encouraged me to give more I found within myself that I did indeed have more to give. Finally at long last my son arrived, my baby boy was in my arms, the weight of him on my chest was greater than the weight of any gold medal.
Pregnancy was a journey much like the journey an athlete takes to reach their goals. As a former athlete I remember how much I wanted to be totally in control of my career but in the end I realized that it just wasn’t possible. I could not predict an injury or illness that would strike right before a championship. I could not foresee all my hard work seemingly gone to waste, as I crumbled during a race that was supposed to be my time to shine. Such was the case with my gold medal moment. God was in control, not me. The path that we walk to our gold medal will not always be the one we picture in our heads and that was the tough lesson I had to learn once again.
So you see, I never made it to the Olympics, but I know with every fiber of my being that giving birth to my son was my Olympic moment. And like Michael Phelps I don’t think that one gold medal is enough…
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7