For 11 excruciating hours last week, Marquette basketball was the furthest thing from my mind. Coming from a guy who’s spent just under 67 total days on the Marquette blog MUScoop.com since November of 2009, that’s saying something.
Sitting beside my wife as she labored through life’s most difficult challenge, all I wanted to do was cry. You are helpless to alleviate the overbearing pain, relegated to be the ultimate bench warmer, fetching water and other trinkets when called on.
Just when you think you see the light, nothing comes to pass but the tic of the second hand on that damn clock on that stupid wall. Why does it have to be this way? Five minutes seems like an eternity in basketball when playing with the lead, but goes by faster than a warm day in winter when playing from behind. So imagine extending those five minutes to ten. Twenty. An hour. Three hours.
Your mind is racing, unable to focus on any particular thought. You hear the din of the TV and the instructions from nurses as they jet in and out. You see the snow heavily blanketing a weary city and even though you are grateful to have beat it to the hospital, it has no meaning. It’s as if the window were a monitor with the latest LED technology. There is only you. A room. And a bed.
And a wife, of course, going through a struggle that makes Buzz’ boot camp workouts feel like a day at the beach in comparison. That pain. The endless pain.
Breathe, push push push. Breathe, push push push. On and on it goes as you selfishly gulp that crisp, sanitized air at no price. It’s not fair. It just isn’t.
That remorse is almost savory compared to the sheer terror that comes next.
At some point, enough was enough for the MDs. After 11 hours of contractions at two minutes apart and three hours of delivery, a whirlwind of doctors and nurses engulfs the room. They tell you just enough to be deathly scared of what will come, but not so much as to knock you flat on your back.
Those agonizing labor pains are replaced by terrorizing shrieks. There is no hyperbole in that statement. Terror is the only word strong and accurate enough to describe the emotional state you inhibit as your wife nears her breaking point.
As the seconds turn to minutes chaos reigns in body and mind. I’m a mess, knees buckling as the intensity builds to unfathomable levels. Scarring thoughts dance around the edge, beaten back only by the real pain registering beside me. I am witnessing torture at its most basic form.
The chaos crescendos to a splatter of unidentifiable shouts, sounds and noises until everything goes quiet all at once. I can’t bear to lift my head but my ears frantically search for the ultimate reward.
Those three sharp whimpers are undoubtedly the sweetest sounds any man or woman will ever hear. Words fail to describe the beauty and excitement of the moment. The pain, the fear, the agony all give way to wonderment, joy and love.
A beautiful baby girl entered this world. Our beautiful baby girl.
At this point, I’m sure you are saying that’s wonderful, but what does this have to do with Marquette basketball? Nothing, really. It won’t affect the bubble. It won’t add insight to your discussion. It won’t even tell you anything you didn’t already know.
But basketball for me is a communal experience. Getting together with 18,000 of my closest friends on a cold night in Milwaukee was transformative. It was a common bond that went beyond any shared title. And that experience has been irrevocably transformed.
As you may have seen by the dearth of posts the past two months, it’s been hectic getting a home prepared for a new little human in a new big city. No longer was I free to stay up until 3 a.m. charting shooting tendencies and creating representative graphics. I’ve been to one game this season and didn’t muster energy to even finish a column. Carving out time to watch a game and collect corresponding tweets was a feat in and of itself. And that’s with an accommodating wife without a baby.
That’s all changed.
National Marquette Day has always been a particularly important game for me since 2011. Spending a Saturday night in London, England, with about 20 Marquette students and alums, watching them take down Syracuse is in the pantheon of all-time experiences.
This year was a bit different. Sitting in my apartment in Philadelphia, sleeping baby in arms, my investment in the game wasn’t as deep. Sure I got excited seeing Jake Thomas light it up in the second half, but large chunks of the game went unseen. I had a beautiful girl distracting me.
At this point I’m sure there are hundreds of moms and dads silently saying I’ve been there. I am by no means special and I know it. But coming to grips with the fact that my passion will be diluted for the next few years is definitely difficult.
And exciting. I can’t wait for the day when I take her to her first game, decked out in blue and gold. I will do my best to teach her the ins and outs of the Big East, why Al is a patron saint, who is evil and who must be destroyed.
Alas, the “I” has been eradicated completely for the next 18 years. Thankfully the “We” will always be there.
And no matter how much she likes or dislikes the sport, she will always know that we are, were and will always be Marquette.