I could identify every Dallas Cowboy by name and number by the time I was 6. Being the first-born child, my dad didn’t exactly know what to do with a girl. So he taught me about the things he thought all kids should know. We watched scary movies together (Dracula and The Mummy were special favorites). We read comic books—and I’m not talking Archie & Jughead. Dad was hard-core, so it was Superman, Batman, and sometimes the Green Lantern. But most of all, he taught me about sports—football, in particular.
I grew up reading the sports section. I watched college football games with a passion every Saturday and listened to my favorite teams on the radio. Sitting in the pep squad or drill team section at middle school and high school games, girls would turn and observe me after each play. I knew when to cheer, so they would also yell and clap. I could explain what a penalty such as interference was and why we’d been called for it, and they’d listen, nod, and then boo the ref.
I found like-minded roommates in college, and we went to many sporting events. All you had to do was pay a small activity fee, and you could show your ID to get into any athletic event. Talk about free entertainment! I didn’t miss many games those 4 years, be it football, basketball, or baseball. In fact, I still go to games with my college roomies and scream my head off.
It didn’t surprise me when I met and married a man who worked in the front office of an NBA team and later slid over to a TV sports network. We always have several TVs on tuned in to sports from tennis to volleyball to the Olympics, especially on weekends.
Every year we’re glued to the NCAA Basketball Tournament during March Madness. Yes, as Americans go bracket-crazy from college dorms to offices, we watch games till our eyes go bleary. And every year as we do this, I’m reminded about giving birth. You see, I went into labor during the tourney.
Actually, I didn’t go into labor. I’d stayed up till 1 AM in that nesting mode, fiddling and fixing things in the nursery that Saturday between games. I finally fell into bed and around 4 AM, my water broke. But no contractions followed. We went to the hospital on my exact due date (which I’d heard NEVER happens with a 1st baby—but I’d been determined to make my due date since it was my dad’s birthday, and this would be his 1st grandchild—best birthday gift ever).
So I was put on the Pitocin drip to induce labor. YIKES! No build-up in this case. We’re talking tough labor from the get-go. And my body wasn’t happy. Basically, it refused to dilate (I never got past a 2, even with drugs).
What did we do to pass the hours? We watched the tournament, of course!
The pain got pretty bad, and after a little Demerol (and 11 hours after my water broke), I got an epidural—yea! I was ready to run away with the guy who’d administered it to me. The epidural made the contractions bearable, but I was getting tired. So tired I was sick of b-ball. I wanted this baby to be born. I wanted my husband to stop watching those stupid men bounce that stupid little orange ball around and commiserate with me about how awful I felt. I was NOT a happy camper.
Finally, after 16 hours and with the games winding down for that Sunday night, my doctor decided to go C-Section—which I wished SOMEONE would’ve thought about, oh, say—15 HOURS AGO!! I guess you see a pattern here. Mama-to-Be’s ain’t happy, and somebody gotta fix it NOW!
So they wheeled me into the delivery room, and pretty soon after I had a 22-inch, 9-plus pounds of baby girl with thick, dark hair cooing in my arms. And yes, she grew up knowing and loving sports, playing basketball, soccer, softball, and her favorite—volleyball.
Now here it is NCAA tourney time once again. Our brackets are completed. Our game-watching has begun. My sweet baby girl is grown now. But every spring when March Madness begins, I remember when she came into our lives.