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The Ride of Your Life

Take Two

Overdue with my second child, I was waiting to be buffeted by the same crazy ups and downs. Yet after enduring another difficult labor, and delivering an even larger baby, I felt completely euphoric and peaceful. Gazing across the delivery room at my newborn son, Joe -- ten pounds and fully formed as a three-month-old, with a shock of bright red hair -- I began laughing uncontrollably. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and triumph as heady as if I'd just planted my flag atop Mount Everest.

"Next time we do this... " I began to say to the doctor, who was stitching up my episiotomy.

"Next time!" gasped my poor husband, still reeling from the pain of my fingernails digging into his hands for the past 15 hours. It was only then that I realized he looked as if he'd been the one who'd just given birth to a child with a head the size of a honeydew melon.

And why was I so chipper? At the time, I credited experience for my ebullience; I was prepared for the joy that would proceed from the pain. I've got this down now, I thought as I rocked my calm week-old son in a restaurant, as I sat nursing while reading Jane Austen, and as I tucked Joe into his crib promptly at 9 p.m. each night. What a pro I was!