Elana Meyers Taylor and Nic Taylor pose for a photo with their son, Nico, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after birth.
Elana Meyers Taylor’s dream is to hang two gold medals around her son Nico’s neck at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. She aims to add an Olympic gold to her two silver and one bronze in women’s bobsled, and then win another gold medal in monobob’s Olympic debut.
The three-time Olympic medalist and two-time women’s bobsled world champion also wants to bring awareness to Down syndrome. Nico was born on February 22, 2020, and was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth.
Since then, Elana and husband Nic Taylor, who is also training for the Beijing Games in bobsled, have come up to speed quickly on what they can do to help Nico achieve his potential.
“People with Down syndrome can live long, happy successful lives,” Elana said by phone from home in Georgia. “When people get this diagnosis of Down syndrome, they’re immediately afraid. I’ve even read some people go through a grieving process. I never went through a grieving process with my son. I love him, and I think he’s absolutely perfect.”
Elana also wants to inspire other parents who have special needs kids.
“This is a whole new world for us,” she added. “But I’m going to figure out how to do this and still be an elite-level bobsledder. For parents out there who have been given a prenatal diagnosis and are wondering if they can make it work, my goal is to show them that they can, even if they’re traveling around the world.”
And even in a pandemic.
Nico was born early, at 36 weeks, between the third and fourth heats of the 2020 women’s bobsled world championships.
He was in many ways a miracle baby. Elana did not even think that she could get pregnant. She had never had a regular menstrual cycle. But because she is an athlete, she did not want to take medication or hormones to aid conception. She and Nic decided that if it happened, it happened.
On September 19, 2019, she announced her pregnancy on social media, alerting her fans to the happy news and to the fact that she would be on maternity leave last season.
But her pregnancy was not easy. She had polyhydramnios—too much amniotic fluid—so was seeing specialists throughout her pregnancy. From the first ultrasound, doctors were concerned. Nico had various problems, such as a low heart rate. But he hung in there.
On February 20, he was not moving as much as he had been. So doctor’s induced Elana. After two days of labor, she gave birth to Nico, who spent eight days in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Diagnostic tests showed that he had Down syndrome—a third copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome is associated with physical and development delays, as well as intellectual disabilities.
Nico was released from the hospital two days before the first case of COVID-19 came through the door.
In some ways, the pandemic made Elana and Nic’s lives a bit easier. Nic, who’s in chiropractic school, transitioned to online school. And they set up a home gym.
“I could have a stroller right there with Nico and didn’t have to worry about putting him in daycare,” said Elana.
But scheduling Nico’s extra care appointments was challenging. Appointments were either virtual, or if they were in person, only one parent could be present.
“They were asking us to make complex medical decisions with only one parent in the room,” said Elana. “I was like, I really need to talk to my husband, who’s studying this form of medicine right now.
“So that’s been the hardest part: just making sure Nico’s okay, and he’s getting the help he needs.”