Some time towards the end of March 2006, I started to feel terribly fatigued. A few times I went to bed right after dinner because I was so wiped out. John and I had been discussing when to have another child, and I remember thinking, "How will I be able to handle two kids if I'm this tired!" Surprise, surprise, baby number two was already on the way. I went to the doctor in early April because I'd had a cold that never seemed to go away, and I thought I might have a sinus infection. By the time my scheduled appointment came around, I had started to suspect that I was pregnant and it was confirmed that day. Pregnancy was definitely harder the second time around. Not that my pregnancy itself was much different--just the added challenge of caring for an energetic two-year-old made my symptoms that mush more difficult. I couldn't lie in bed when I felt sick and I had to pick Johnny up no matter how bad my back ached. He had to eat, even if chicken nuggets and grilled cheese were grossly nauseating to me.But overall I was lucky. I suffered the same terrible four months of morning sickness, same searing sciatica, and assorted ailments like heartburn, restles legs and headaches, but nothing unbearable, nothing serious, and compared to what could have been wrong, I was fortunate.At 19 weeks, ultrasound told us we were having a girl--a big deal since boys tend to run in the family and out of 8 biological grandchildren on John's side, only one is a girl.I popped out at 3 1/2 months and gained 34 pounds (amazing since I ate so little), yet still had to buy almost all new maternity clothes because everything from my first pregnancy was way too big.I started feeling contractions around 34 weeks and my doctor warned me to make sure to stay hydrated. The contractions weren't at all regular. I'd have 3 in a row, then none for hours. They were quite painful and the waiting game was driving me nuts. My doctor consoled me by saying this was my body's way of slowly moving things along, and that once active labor began, things would probably move very quickly. That sounded great, but also brought to mind several stories in the past year of women whose labors were SO short, they didn't make it to the hospital and had unplanned home births!In the weeks leading up to my due date, I had false labor start and stop three times. Usually at night, enough to keep me awake, only to stop at dawn just in time for Johnny to get up!Finally, the evening of November 21, John was playing with Johnny and I was puttering around the house, saving some files off the computer, laundry, filing. When my belly started to feel funny, it quickly became obvious that this was not false labor. Things started off with a bang, with contractions every two minutes, lasting about a minute each. After a couple of hours I called L&D and they wanted me to come in. I was hesitant because I wasn't terribly uncomfortable and it hadn't been that long, but because this was my second child, they thought I should come in.John's Aunt Patty and grandfather came over to stay with Johnny, who was now in bed, until John's parents could get to our house. John and I got to the hospital around 11PM and by then, I was definitely in pain. However, when the doctor checked me, he said I needed to dilate a little more before they admitted me. So we spent about 90 minutes walking up and down the hallway between L&D and postpartum. By then, my contractions were so strong I could barely stand and I'd dilated enough to be admitted, to 4cm.I requested an epidural and we were moved into an L&D room. The anesthesiologist appeared with consent forms and started talking risk and side effects. I think I recall telling him, "I don't care, just give it to me!" Once again, that "tiny pinch" of local anesthetic felt like a giant spike!The epidural when I had Johnny was a blessed relief, but this time it wasn't nearly as effective. Not only did it only take effect on my left side, but the pain on the right side was agonizing. I didn't feel the contractions in my belly. Instead, the pain shot through my groin and down my thigh. It was bizarre and hurt so badly that I was in tears.The anesthesiologist played with the dosage and had me change positions a couple of times, but nothing gave me relief. Finally, he adjusted the catheter where it entered my back and I started to feel marginally better. About two minutes later, my water broke, with an audible pop and enough force that it soaked my socks. There was some meconium, so the nurses called a pede's unit just in case while the doctor checked me again. Turns out the epidural wasn't working because I had dilated from 4 cm to ten cm in an hour and the meds just couldn't keep up. It was finally time to start pushing. While I felt nothing while birthing Johnny, this time I felt everything and it was quite painful!The cord was around her neck, so John didn't get to cut it and the pede's unit snatched her up right away. She was fine though, scoring 9 on her Apgar tests. We moved to a postpartum room soon after and Maureen went to the nursery for her first bath. Since it was close to 5AM, John and I gratefuly went to sleep.Because I felt so good (other than being tired), I asked for, and received, an early discharge, so we were able to go home Thanksgiving evening and still see some family.Breastfeeding started out great, but 24 hours into it, I started to feel that dreaded and all to familiar burn and itching of thrush. Thankfully, my previous experience with it clued me in early, so I was able to find a lactation consultant who agreed with my self diagnosis. We went home with prescriptions for Maureen and I and were able to get relief right away. Maureen continues to nurse well; however, she's not as efficient as Johnny was, often falling asleep during a feeding and having to be convinced to rouse and continue.I'm amazed at how well my body has bounced back this time, and I'm sure it's due partly to not having stitches. I went home after having Johnny still looking distressingly pregnant and continued to wear maternity clothes for a couple of weeks before I could fit into regular clothes again. Not pre-baby clothes, but still regular clothes. I lost the weight quickly, but it was almost a full year later when I stopped breastfeeding that I really reclaimed my body and was able to lose an aditional twenty pounds.This time I took maternity pants to the hospital to wear home, but they were too big! I was immediately back into regular (not pre-baby) clothes and into some of my pre-baby pants ten days later. I still have some work to do and some weight to lose, but I'm encouraged so far.So we're settling into being a family of four!