“Off Balance”

Chapter 1: Sisters

An Excerpt from “Off Balance” by Dominique Moceanu

When you have traveled the world, won Olympic gold, and gone through a very public court battle against your parents all by the age of seventeen, surprises don’t come easy. Discovering my sister Jennifer, though – that was a surprise.

On December 10, 2007, I found out that I had a second sister. I was nine months pregnant and about to take my college semester finals. With swollen feet and body parts bigger than I had ever imagined possible, I couldn’t even squeeze into a school desk anymore. But earning a college degree was a promise I had made to myself—and third trimester or not, I was going to get those finals done.

Cleveland was cold, rainy, and gray in a bona fide Ohio winter way. All I wanted to do was finish my exams, cuddle up under a blanket with some hot chocolate, and wait for the imminent arrival of my firstborn. But alas, that was not yet in the cards. I was headed for a study session right after a quick stop at the post office.

Earlier in the week, I’d missed the delivery of a piece of certified mail, and the notice had been sitting on my desk for several days. Lugging my backpack full of business textbooks to my car, I felt baby give me a stern kick. I almost lost the certified letter notice in a cold gust of wind and rain. Little did I know, this tiny three-by-five-inch piece of paper would turn my life-past, present, and future—upside down.

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