EDITOR’S NOTE: Many fans noticed the recent absence of SportsCenter anchor Jade McCarthy. Here, she explains the reason her time away in a first person essay for Front Row.
The nickname stuck. What can I say? Somewhere around the time that I had spent more days than I imagined home on the receiving end of IV fluids, I started referring to the baby as “the culprit.” Now, nearly six months pregnant, “the culprit” continues to grow and thrive by all accounts of my doctor and the nickname still makes my husband and me laugh. As anyone who’s had a baby or been the spouse fulfilling the sometimes bizarre requests that comes with it, humor is a key component of pregnancy.
We found out just after my New Year’s trip to the Cotton Bowl that our family of three would be a family of four come fall. My husband, Gordy, and I were thrilled with the discovery, and like with our first child, Mac, decided we would wait and be surprised to learn if Mac has a little brother or sister. There aren’t that many great surprises in life; I am all about embracing this one. That said, the biggest surprise for our family was probably how challenging the pregnancy would become.
When my doctors first started using the word hyperemesis, I just stared blankly. That was the general response I got when I told people, too — or they’d say, “like Princess Kate!” I can’t say I ever thought I’d have common ground with English royalty, but there it is. As any mom who has faced the same diagnosis will tell you, it’s not desirable common ground. Honestly, I never knew it was possible for a growing baby to thrive while that baby’s incubator, as my doctor likes to say, is that sick. I didn’t know I could be that sick. That said, there has not been a moment in my pregnancy when I have had medical reason to worry about the well-being of “the culprit.” I am both blessed and thankful.
By late February and early March my ESPN colleagues would follow up emails and texts of genuine concern with jokes that I was able to hibernate during the end of an endless winter in the Northeast. True. I am so thankful for the wonderful people who I call friends and colleagues. Their thoughts and prayers meant the world; their ability to make me laugh helped tremendously through some long and difficult days.
The best part of the day was invariably Mac’s arrival home. Sometimes he’d climb up next to me and watch a show. More likely, he’d ask to play catch. It’s a good thing his aim is good, if not Gordy and I would have been replacing broken lamps on our bedroom nightstands. (It remains as the only acceptable time to play catch in a bedroom in our house.)
As it was, Gordy was searching for watermelon in the midst of the winter that wouldn’t quit (doctor’s recommendation – if you can’t drink, try to eat foods with a high water content) and buying avocados in bulk. To this day, my doctor always asks if I’m still on an avocado kick because when I was able to keep food down it was one of literally four things I could eat. My palette has started to expand but the pregnancy cravings haven’t exactly been like the ones you typically read about.
It was a welcome relief to be back on the ESPN campus in late March and share news of “the culprit” with friends and colleagues who didn’t know. My eating habits became a bit of a joke – totally understandable – and I heard many stories about the challenges others faced in growing their families. I am so appreciative of the humor and the camaraderie.
These days, I invariably have a can of Fresca and a straw in my bag. And it takes a bit longer than usual to walk across campus, not to mention find something to wear. I must admit, I dream of a nausea free reality and sometimes I find myself gasping for air halfway through a story on air.
Labor Day, the one on the actual calendar, can’t come soon enough. By then “the culprit” will have an actual name although our family will never forget the nickname. Until then, to borrow the words of Pete the Cat, one of Mac’s favorite fiction characters, “it’s all good.” And it is.
Someday I’ll hear “the culprit” ask when he or she can be on SportsCenter. Sibling rivalry seems to guarantee that since Mac made his live TV “debut” during this year’s “take your child to work day.” I’ll answer, ‘You were there that day, too’. And I’m sure the response will be exactly what I hear from Mac now, “When can I come to work with you again, Mommy?”
Yup, it’s all good.