My wife and I had a baby to celebrate late summer's big holiday - Labor Day - mercifully bringing to an end the nine months of pain and pregnancy.

Actually, Shauna did the having. I observed and "coached." All that was missing were the whistle, turf shoes, clipboard and tight-fitting, Sans-A-Belt polyester shorts. My job wasn't to diagram plays but to hold her hand while each labor pain peaked. Only she didn't have labor pains because it was a scheduled C-section, so the importance of my role was diminished from the outset of the birthing process.That was OK. My ego could take being subordinate to a team of four doctors, 17 residential interns or interns in residence, six nurses, a candy striper, two anesthesiologists, the hospital bill collector and the delivery room custodian. The problem was nine months of subordination to the baby, who for the majority of that time was in my wife's tummy.

For nine months, baby ruled. And she's still king, er, queen. It's amazing what results - healthy, beautiful, well-formed baby aside - from chromosome X meeting chromosome Y, or however that works.

From the time of inception - I guess the scientific term is con-ception - this youngster who started as a tadpole was completely in control.

The first thing she did was make Mommy sick. That's not nice, especially when Dad is the one who picks up - at times, mops up - the pieces.

Then there was the skyrocketing soda cracker bill. It was crackers morning, noon and night. Before meals, between meals, after meals. Crackers and cracker crumbs everywhere until the entire family was crackers. All in the name of reducing nausea. We took out a second mortgage on the home to finance all of the between-meal snacks.

At the three-month mark, Baby made Mommy buy a new wardrobe. Correction: Baby made Daddy buy Mommy a new wardrobe. Steel-belted britches, Goodyear support hose and Coleman blouses (no offense to my wife here, as this is standard attire for women suffering from the P-word) were carted in - all with hefty price tags befitting anything medically related.

About that time, my wife and I began playing our favorite game: Name that Pain. Upon returning home from a hard day at the office, I would complain of a headache. My wife would counter, citing dizziness and fatigue. I shot back that my neck was stiff from sleeping on a slope because the water bed was tipping due to her, uh, expanded physical self. She got teary eyed and showed me her herniated navel and other abnormalities caused by the baby.

She won. Always. And deservedly so. Who was I to challenge someone packing a nine-pound lug in their abdominal region. That's the equivalent of 36 quarter-pounders - without cheese.

Things finally reached the point where basketball under the blouse jokes hit all-time lows. (Wife's note: "Even at eight months, my ballooning stomach measured less than that of my husband, who we do not believe was expecting anything except his next dessert.")

Enough was enough, and I pleaded with my wife to ask Dr. Ob to take the baby early. Surely a child of such expanded physique was ready for earth life - and perhaps walking and shaving. My wife informed me that the doctor's name was not OB. Those were his initials. His name was Dr. Farnsworth. "Ready or not, here she comes" became my rallying cry. But Shauna told me to back off. Babies come when they are darn good and ready, and not a moment before, she explained. The lungs have to be ready. She wanted to endure to the end. I just wanted the end.

A test called an amniosomethingorother finally confirmed that the baby's lungs were indeed ready to suck air, though it was nearly two weeks prior to the designated due date - which had been figured nearly a year and a half earlier using somebody's horoscope.

At long last, the big day arrived. The doctor confirmed - for a healthy fee - that the baby was ready for earth life but was too large to arrive via the "normal" mode of delivery. I was temporarily confused and wondered what in fact was a normal vs. an abnormal delivery? Stork vs. UPS? Federal Express vs. fax?

I asked my wife to explain. She wouldn't but dropped a few hints until memories of Mr. Sorensen's biology class and the birth of our last child six years previous came flooding back. I was ready to "coach" her through a C-section.

Baby continued controlling our lives until she met us face to face, getting us up on D-Day at 4:30 a.m. for her scheduled 8 a.m. arrival. I trudged into LDS Hospital armed with a video camera that didn't leave the case until well after birth and the application of my wife's makeup. So much for candid camera.

After assorted tests, questions about the birthing habits of extended family members and administration of my sedative by a nurse, we were ready. Our nervousness level skyrocketed, however, when we saw the doctor sharpening his scalpel on a whetstone. But true to our rallying cry, "Ready or not. . . ."

We - she - went through with it, and things went wonderfully. Kristen was 9-5 with curly, black hair. And the bonding was delightful.

The first night home quickly reminded us what we had forgotten during a four-day hospital vacation where everything was catered and the baby was fed throughout the weehours - Baby is king, er, queen. She's the boss, and isn't bashful about reminding us of that.

Before the birth, we had opted for cloth diapers to help save the environment. That lasted for 20 minutes and two diaper changes after reaching home. A friend loaned us his pickup for a Reams run, where we cleaned the shelves of Huggies for girlies. I was astounded to find that, since our baby six years previous, diapers have become tailored for boys and girls. The only obvious difference is the pink and blue trim and the hefty price tag. But after several quick-change routines, I was glad to have them.

Life the past few weeks has been measured in ounces and burps and minutes of sleep, but who would want it any other way.

Thank goodness pregnancy is terminal.