I’m not a sports fan. At all. Yet my memories of my second daughter’s birth are intertwined with a big sports story where we live in St. Louis. We’ll be celebrating Abigail’s second birthday soon, and once again my husband, Josh, and I have been retelling our stories and experiences from that time. I’ll let Josh, with his superior sports knowledge, set the stage of a world series win baby:
Welcoming With A world series win
I have vivid memories of Abigail’s birth day. I remember the physical shock of being woken up at 2:30 a.m. by Rachael, the downing of a fully caffeinated Coca-Cola Classic as I drove down the empty highway toward the hospital, and the miraculous spectacle of watching our daughter enter the world at 7:26 a.m. – about the same time I would normally have started my work day.
Abby’s birth also happened to take place against the backdrop of the 2011 World Series, between the hometown St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. After returning home from the hospital with our oldest daughter the evening of Abby’s birth, I put her to bed and sat down to watch Game 6. Texas led the series three games to two, meaning that if Texas won the game that night they would win the World Series. By the time the 7th inning ended the Cardinals were losing 7-4. It was at that point after 10 p.m.; I had been up for nearly 20 hours and was completely exhausted from a long and emotional day. Taking account of both the game’s score and my own sorry state, I decided it was best if I went to bed.
After a long night of sleep in which I was dead to the world, I woke up the next morning, expecting to read bittersweet stories of a baseball season now over. Instead, I saw to my shock stories of a completely different sort.
While I’d slept the Cardinals had staged what is arguably the greatest comeback in the history of baseball.
Down by three runs, the Cardinals scored one run in the 8th inning. In the 9th inning, the Cardinals were one strike away from losing the Series when third baseman David Freese, who grew up in St. Louis, hit a triple off the right field wall that tied the game. Texas went up 9-7 in the 10th inning, but the Cardinals again rallied to tie, and in the 11th inning – around 11:30 p.m. local time –David Freese became a hero for the second time when he hit a home run to win the game.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to catch the highlights I had slept through on my laptop. And later that evening, I would settle in again to watch Game 7 of the World Series, which the Cardinals won (albeit in far less dramatic fashion) to secure a world championship.
Meanwhile, I (Rachael) was still in the hospital with Abigail. It was impossible, living in the big sports town that St. Louis is, to be unaware of what the Cardinals were doing during this almost world series win. Some of my most vivid memories are of conversations with nurses during the two nights I was there. In the middle of the first night, I was still dealing with after-birth pains that were severe enough at times that I had to breathe deeply to work through them. Through the night, my nurse doled out alternating doses of Percocet and Ibuprofen. During one of these visits, the baby nurse arrived at the same time, bringing Abigail for me to nurse. In the dim room, with the numbers on the clock glowing 2 a.m. or some similar crazy hour, the nurses chatted happily about the Cardinals’ most recent win earlier that evening. They had made their surprise comeback but had yet to win the series.
The next evening, our last night in the hospital, I heard the distinct sound of chairs and other furniture scraping across the floor above me, where no doubt another family in another postpartum room was gathering with their new little bundle to watch what would be the final game of the world series win. My nurse commented that as she made her rounds through the ward, almost everyone had their televisions tuned to the game. I turned in early, knowing I would be up several times in the night to nurse Abigail. Late in the night, I heard a shout from somewhere in the ward. I figured it was game-related. Either that or someone had escaped from the behavioral health unit where my mother-in law works as a nurse. Before the night was over, my nurse told me the Cardinals had won the World Series. Staff buzzed with excitement, and a sense of camaraderie settled over us.
St. Louis is unique for the passion its residents have for their local baseball team. I spent my first year here working in a school, and the Cardinals won the World Series back then, too. The school had days during the series when everyone wore Cardinals shirts and hats. The Cardinals occasionally get mentioned from the pulpit in church, residents post signs and décor on their homes during baseball season, and local stores write tributes on their marquees.
As I mentioned before, I am not a sports fan. I dislike a lot of organized sports. Baseball especially baffled me in elementary school gym class. I didn’t understand why I was out even though I had hit the ball. I took refuge by standing as far in the outfield as I could get and prayed no one would hit or throw the ball my way. I preferred music, theatre, and art, which came to me naturally and didn’t involve spending early mornings chasing a ball in the rain on a cold, muddy field.
Still, there was something neat about Abigail’s birth during the World Series win during a year in which the local team won. The birth of a baby always brings people together. Hope in the future of the world is rekindled and people feel a little better about life. Those of us in the hospital that night the Cardinals won had little in common besides the fact we were all toting newborns, but everyone cheered the team on. We felt good about ourselves and about our small corner of the planet. That’s not a bad way to bring a baby into the world.
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