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Let's be clear: Olympians handle the physical challenges of childbirth differently than most of the rest of us.

Aretha Thurmond is a discus thrower who'd already competed in two Olympics when she went to the hospital in labor.

"So I get there and they're like, 'Yeah, whatever, you're 4 centimeters dilated. Go walk around the hospital and come back,' " she says.

Thurmond's hospital was part of a university, so she headed straight for its track, where she power-walked for the next two hours. Then the school's discus throwers came out.

How To Follow The Sochi Olympics On Twitter

Jan 23, 2014

Though Sochi is nine hours ahead of New York, social media will make it easier to keep track of many Winter Olympians in real time. We've compiled Twitter lists for each of the U.S. team rosters. We're also making lists for media, teams and international athletes — and will be adding to them as the Olympics go on.

Feel free to subscribe to any of these lists and follow @nprolympics on Twitter for the latest updates from NPR's team in Sochi.

A new study finds that contrary to widespread belief, it's no harder to climb the economic ladder in the United States today than it was 20 years ago.

But the study did find that moving up that ladder is still a lot more difficult in the U.S. than in other developed countries.

A ghost ship full of diseased, cannibalistic rats could be nearing landfall somewhere in the British Isles.

No, it's not the plot for a new horror film. According to The Independent, the 300-foot cruise liner Lyubov Orlova, which has been drifting, crewless, around the North Atlantic for nearly a year since it snapped its towline en route to the scrapyard, might be moving east toward the English coast.

Today marks the start of The Edge, a blog hosting NPR's coverage of the Sochi Winter Games. The Edge is about the journeys Olympic athletes take to get better. From skaters to skiers, no two journeys are alike. But they all end at the same place: in competition. And many of them are fascinating.

As we've prepared for the games that begin Feb. 6 — in just two weeks — NPR has been following many stories of athletes and equipment, of money and security.

Ever wonder what happened with Bertha — the world's biggest tunneling machine, stuck under Seattle? We last checked in on the story right before Christmas, when engineers were preparing to send down inspection teams to identify the blockage. People (OK, the media) were having a grand time, floating ridiculous guesses about what the mysterious object might be. An old ship? Dinosaur bones? Bigfoot?

One month later, there's still no clear answer. Certainly nothing headline-grabbing.

The lake in Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake is gorgeous — aquamarine, pristine, surrounded by pebbly beaches and dense woods. Families cluster on the far side of it, but on the side we see, there are only men. It's a gay cruising spot, frequented by mostly nude sunbathers and swimmers, many of whom come here often enough to know each other by sight if not by name.

Atrocious instances of gang rape over the past year or so have shaken India, but the one this week in West Bengal has a particularly sinister twist.

An all-male village tribunal, said to be upset that a 20-year old tribal woman had fallen in love with a man outside the community, is alleged to have ordered she be gang-raped as punishment.

Jenny Offill's novel Dept. of Speculation, which weighs in at 192 pages soaking wet and includes a fair amount of white space, is extremely short for a novel. It's an unusual book not only in terms of its size, but also its form. Make no mistake, this is an experimental novel. By which I mean that the narrative isn't a series of flowing scenes that keep you reassuringly grounded in plot, but a collection of vignettes, observations and quirky details that are sometimes pulled from real life.

Editor's Note: This week Code Switch has been bringing you a series of stories prompted by a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And one of the findings that stood out was a striking difference between Latinos born and raised in the U.S. and immigrants when it comes to the degree of openness when it comes to talking about sexual orientation.

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