I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but I’ve been known to swing a bat or two in my day. I’ve been known to knock down a couple doubles (if the outfielders are mediocre) or even triples (if the outfielders flat-out suck). I’ve been known to sacrifice my non-girly kneecaps for a line drive down the first base line every now and again. So, tonight, when my softball team rekindled its flame and met up for our first practice, I was more than excited…even if I was only going to be this season’s official statistician-slash-cheerleader.
Nate gets to play, of course, which I was sure I’d be OK with. But, once he stepped out onto the field and I was stuck in deep, deep, like really deep center field walking my dog in slow circles, I started to change my mind. I LOVE this sport. I LOVE gossiping with the girls in right field, backing up the shortstop, and catching pop flies. And while everyone else was doing just that, I was waddling glovelessly 500 feet from home plate holding a mug of hot tea picking up Chloe poop. Hmmm…softball was definitely going to be different this year.
I do enjoy watching people have a good time. Nate was catching up with old teammates, my sister was chit-chatting with the new people on the team, our puppy was in dirt heaven! It was cold and rainy, but everyone was happy to be together. I was in good spirits too, shooting quips back to the smart-mouthed guys on the team (“Take that beach ball out of your shirt and come join us!”) and enjoying the fresh air. But then, 15 minutes into practice, it happened. I had to pee. Oh…my…gosh, did I have to pee. I know I’ve mentioned the urgency of this situation before, but since then, I’ve only gotten bigger, meaning the pressure on my bladder has only gotten stronger, and the capacity for liquids being held inside of me has minimized to nearly nothing. So, when I say, “I was wandering a softball field in the middle of nowhere at 30 weeks pregnant and I realized I had to pee,” you drop your jaw and say “OH NO! WHAT DID YOU DO!??”
I spotted a pavilion a short distance away from the field, so Chloe and I made our way there. LOCKED. And, you know when your body thinks it’s going to get relief and then it doesn’t, it’s awfully difficult to change its mind back. So, I did what any woman in this situation would do. I hid behind the pavilion, out of sight from all softball fields, locked the dog’s leash in place, grabbed hold of the picnic table next to me, and squatted as best as a giant bowling-ball-of-a-woman can squat. Oh, the embarrassment. I mean, I know I’m not the same person I was last season, but this is just ridiculous. Here I am, wiping with the cleanest leaves I can find, while I should be on that field scooping balls like the old days.
That was my breaking point. I stormed back onto the field, handed the leash off to my husband, and grabbed my mitt. I was going to field line drives if it killed me. I caught one pop fly and struggled to land three more fielders before I got tired. OK, so maybe I can’t play second base like I used to, but I bet I can bat. The team reminded me of how critical I was of a girl on an opposing team last year who was actually playing at 8 months pregnant. She was running bases, cranking hits out to center field, and playing pretty solid defense. I remember sitting on the bench telling people, “Wow, that’s just stupid. How unsafe. What is she thinking?” So, yes, I fully understood the self-hypocrisy and team ridicule when I stepped up to the plate. But, now I better understood where this girl was coming from. Why watch from the stands when your throwing arms and catching hands work just fine? It’s just that mid-section that could get in the way.
I’m blaming it on nerves and wind, but as I swung at the first pitch, my whole body swayed. I had no control over my legs, arms, or hips. I was like a fat caveman/ballerina combo, out to prove something to somebody. Pitch two. Strike two. Pitch three. I was so determined. I have struck out once on my life – that is once in 28 years, ya understand? So, to miss this last pitch would have led me to bury my head in the sand and cry until morning. So, with each pregnant bone in my body, I threw my everything into that pitch. Strike three.
Last year, I was an all-star! I was placed high in the lineup. I was a girl on whom the team relied. This year, I obviously had no center of gravity, no hand-eye coordination, and no tact (as I threw the bat against the fence, dropped an F-bomb, and moped my way back to the bench). This year, I was going to be the team member who chased loose balls, kept score, yelled the batting order, and peed secretly in the outfield. But, hey, at least I learned this at practice and didn’t attempt it in a real-game situation. And, I know my time will come when I can play the game again. There will be a day when I will once again have control over my balance, regain my sense of timing, and be able to dive in the dirt without the worry of denting a small human. For now, I suppose I need to fill the role of supportive wife, sister, teammate, and of course, mother.
And I know in ten years when I’m driving our son to a Little League game and he’s nervous for his big pitching debut, I can remind him of tonight. “You know how I know you’ll do great? When mommy was 30 weeks pregnant, you were already itching to be part of a team. Your love of the game started before you were even born!” He’ll smile and I’ll be able to physically see his confidence rise. At that point, I’ll be ready to be a cheerleader and will root him to victory every time he starts to doubt himself.
Of course, the inspirational story he hears will never include peeing behind a pavilion. That little detail is just between me and you.