A Memoir of Courage After a Life-Changing Accident

A college romance that could have ended in a broken heart, made worse by the public embarrassment of maternal expectation gone amok, instead ended in a marzipan rose of a wedding: pink rose centerpieces, rosebud boutonnieres, my dress bordered by satin roses. We married in my parents' backyard at sunset; it started to rain, but only after we had sat down to dinner under a tent. The downpour became just another symbol of our good luck. No one felt a drop. Eric's toast after dinner was a simple declarative—he had fallen in love with me at first sight and would love me until the day he died.

We howled with laughter later that night back in our hotel room, as he tried to get me out of the dress (an impossibility, really, with the two hundred tiny buttons down the back), while admitting that he had completely lied in the toast. He had started liking me about a week into my harassing him; he did consider the ice cream a real date.

The innocence of this first love left an indelible impression on our marriage, colored it magic, as if we managed to see everything in our lives, including the birth and raising of our children, through rose­tinted glasses. When I found out in my first pregnancy that I was having a boy, I was initially nervous. I was from a family of girls—what would I do with a boy? I began having anxiety dreams. A thick-necked hulk of a son would look at me, take a beer can, smash it on his forehead, and ask, "Yo, Ma! Wanna brewski?" Eric teases me that I made him read every line of the mother-to-be's bible, What to Expect When You're Expecting. We knew every small symptom, discomfort, and side effect of pregnancy intimately. We had complained about them together, each with a hand pressed to my belly, waiting for the next cascade of volcanic eruptions as our son moved or hiccuped. We felt ready. We were prepared. We had, however, not bothered to read that portion of the chapter on labor and delivery devoted to home birthing in case of a problem. As Eric pointed out, "Why bother reading it? What kinds of idiots don't make it to the hospital in time?"

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