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- July 17, 2006
- Vol. 66
- No. 3
And Competing on Monkey Bars...
Olympic Gymnasts Nadia Comaneci & Bart Conner Show Off Their First Little Tumbler, Son Dylan
4 LBS. 10 OZ.
Some women lose their balance—or at the very least a bit of flexibility—when they're carrying a beach-ball-size bump late in pregnancy. Not Nadia Comaneci. "Somebody asked me, 'Can't you wait until the time when you can tie your shoes again?'" recalls the lithe sports legend. "I said, 'Well, I still can!'"
Lately life's been pretty much a perfect 10 for Olympic gymnasts Comaneci, 44, and Bart Conner, 48, who welcomed their first child, Dylan Paul—named after singer Bob and the couple's friend-manager Paul Ziert—on June 3. "I've heard people talk about unconditional love—I've heard the words," says Conner, relaxing in the family's Norman, Okla., home. "But this is a powerful feeling. When I saw him laying there in the hospital, I'm thinking, 'Just the mere fact that he exists is enough for me.'"
The arrival of Gogosel, as his Romanian-bred mom likes to call him (it means "little donut" in her native tongue), has been a long time coming. Not that five-time gold medalist Mom, who made the record books with a first-ever perfect routine in Olympic gymnastics at the 1976 Montreal games, or Dad, who has two golds from Los Angeles in '84, didn't want to start a family. But the couple—who married in 1996 after a long friendship and spent the next few years juggling TV hosting gigs, charity work and travel—were never in a rush. "You're looking for the right time, and people say, 'It's never the right time—it just happens,'" says Comaneci. Then, says Conner, "in the last few years it felt like something was missing." Adds Comaneci: "He wanted to have kids for many years. My light was still red."
When it finally turned green—"My mom was asking me nonstop!" she says—the pair were prepared to deal with the fertility issues that can face women in their 40s. "We thought about adoption," says Comaneci. But, as it turns out, "it just happened naturally." Even when they got the news of the pregnancy, "You get excited, but you try to hold it a little bit," she says. "It's kind of like in gymnastics. I always had low expectations so everything I accomplished was always better than I expected. So I'm always like, 'Let's not get happy now. Let's wait and see if everything's okay.'"
In fact, Comaneci had a smooth pregnancy, gaining just 17 lbs. (She's already lost it.) Three weeks before her due date, her amniotic fluid began to get low and her doctor opted for a C-section. "If you don't believe in miracles, you haven't seen a baby born," says Conner. "It's the most magical thing I've ever experienced." Adds Comaneci: "When he started to cry—'Waaaaa!'—I was like, 'Oh, my God.' It just hits you."
After a 12-day hospital stay in Oklahoma City—Dylan's swallow reflex was not yet fully developed—the new family is now settling in at home in Norman, where they run a gymnastics academy. Comaneci speaks Romanian to Dylan in hopes of teaching him the language, while Conner likes to joke about late-blooming parenthood. "Our friend gave us a little box where you're supposed to put the baby's first tooth," he says. "I said, 'His teeth will be coming out the same time ours do!'"
So, is the new guy—who his dad bragged was born with "a little Popeye forearm"—destined for gold? "I'm sure he'll play in the gym a lot, because it's like a high-tech playground," says Conner. "If he wants to do gymnastics, that's fine." For now, his job is simply to grow—and snooze through the night so his parents can too. "The first night, I think I slept on my feet. Every time he went 'peep,' I would jump," says Comaneci. "I still don't believe this is for real."
- Michael Haederle/Norman.
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