(Left) Elana Meyers Taylor holds her newborn son, Nico, with her husband Nic by her side; (Right) Elana Meyers Taylor poses for a photo holding her son Nico.
Elana Meyers Taylor is tied for the title of the United States’ most decorated Olympic bobsledder in history. After winning bronze as a brakeman in her Olympic debut in 2010, she switched to the driver’s seat and won consecutive silver medals in 2014 and 2018. Meyers Taylor is also the first American women’s pilot to win a world title, doing so in 2015 and winning another one in 2017. Her world cup experience is highlighted by 45 medals and the fact that, after fighting for women’s inclusion, she became the first woman to compete in four-person bobsled in 2014.
What a whirlwind the past couple months have been! I can’t believe I’m already getting ready to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mother, but I could not be more excited! I had always dreamed of starting a family and sharing my life as an Olympic bobsledder with my children.
Not too long after Nic (my husband) and I realized we were meant for each other we had picked out three boy’s names and two girl’s names, hoping that we would get to use them all. After we got married and started to plan for a family, we were told we might not be able to have children. We both continued competing in bobsled and won a few more medals, all still with the desire to start a family of our own. Then, this past summer, after returning from a training trip to England, we found out we were finally going to start our family—we were pregnant!
I was determined to continue to bobsled after giving birth, but had no idea how I would be able to provide for my family and handle all the associated health care costs. Luckily, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee made sure I didn’t have to worry about it. They decided to enact a policy to allow pregnant athletes to keep their health insurance (provided by the USOPC) and stipend (a monthly payment to help cover living expenses) during the pregnancy and for a year after. Knowing this, I began to set my sights on a healthy pregnancy and then returning back to my sled.
All throughout my pregnancy I continued to train. I coached development and Youth Olympic athletes, which allowed me to stay in the sport and taught me a great deal. For the world cup level, bobsled races in Europe are held at all crazy hours of the morning East Coast time, but our son woke me up with the most vicious kicks for every single race—it’s like he knew, “Mama, a race is on!” I cheered on my teammates as much as I could and continued to prepare for the arrival of our little one.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, we went in for what we thought was a normal checkup, only to be told it was time. I would be induced due to complications, and gave birth to our little Nico two days later. He made his arrival just in time for the second day of racing of the women’s bobsled world championships, a race in which my teammates Lauren Gibbs and Kaillie Humphries won. True to bobsledder form, Nico was apparently eager to see the race.
But unfortunately he didn’t get to see the race. After Nic and I were able to briefly hold him following my emergency C-section, he was taken to the NICU where he would spend eight days. Those eight days were some of the hardest days of my life. Talking about bobsled with Nic actually helped me ease some of the stress and helped us dream of better days. Additionally, our sport experience helped us set goals and focus on what we could control. The NICU experience is one I wouldn’t wish on any parent.
(Left) Elana Meyers Taylor and her husband Nic pose for a photo with their son Nico; (Right) Nico sleeps in his crib wrapped in an U.S. Olympic and Paralympic blanket.
The emotions you go through when worried about your child are unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Not only that, but the NICU is extremely expensive, but you spare no expense when it comes to making sure your child is healthy. Thankfully, with the USOPC’s policy on health insurance, that was the least of my worries and I could focus on getting Nico healthy and home.
And boy is our little boy a fighter! He made it home and Nic went back to chiropractic school and we started to settle into our new lives. We were even planning a trip to Lake Placid to take a couple runs on the track before the season ended and so that Nico could meet his bobsled family. Then COVID-19 hit and the shelter-at-home orders meant everything would change. Nico was born with special needs, which meant a lot of follow-up treatments and doctors’ appointments, but navigating it in a pandemic became a challenge. Nic’s schooling was put online, which was a great blessing as it meant our little family could tackle all these challenges together.
And we have continued to tackle them as any bobsled athlete would—headfirst and strong! Our boy continues to grow, eats just like a bobsledder (he’s in the 97% for weight and height!), and is happy and healthy. I have started back training, including working with Celeste Goodson, a specialist who started ReCORE Fitness, to help my body get back after pregnancy (which I assure you is a work in progress). Fortunately, in Georgia, we have a running track available that’s isolated, so the entire family is able to get in workouts (Nico’s are mostly just critiquing my form).
I love having Nico at the track, although figuring out how to train around nap times has been a challenge! Luckily I’ve got Nic by my side to make sure I get in all the training I need to get back to bobsled shape. Gyms have started to open in Georgia but because Nico is so young, we won’t take any chances in becoming exposed to COVID-19, so we’re working on building a home gym in our garage. Thanks to the generosity of a USA Bobsled & Skeleton partner, we’re be back to our weightlifting routine already.
The past two months have been quite the adventure, but that’s the life of any mother. I’ve been fortunate to connect with some of Team USA’s other mothers—Allyson Felix, Alysia Montaño, Dawn Harper Nelson, Natasha Hastings, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Meghan Duggan, Mariel Zagunis, Alana Nichols, Brenna Huckaby—and even some of my former USABS teammates in Kehri Jones, Megan Morse and Cherrelle Garrett, who have all helped me so much with advice and encouragement—and also given me a newfound family.
These mothers, in addition to my own, are some of the strongest people I know, and I’m not talking about weight in a squat rack (although I’m sure they can handle their own!). I’m grateful to be on the journey of motherhood, grateful for Nico to eventually meet his bobsled family, and grateful to have the chance to go for gold in 2022 while my son watches. Happy Mother’s Day!