Here is the story of Maggie's birth and early hours in the wider world, for those interested parties who have not yet heard it all from my exceedingly excited mother :-)
As I complained extensively about in past posts, I had been getting contractions on and off for quite some time. Over the last week, they began increasing in regularity and in strength, causing us to make a trip to the hospital on Saturday night (the 19th). We got everyone all excited, packed Max off to his grandparents, and were promptly sent home with what was classified as either false labor, or labor in such early stages that it did not yet count as hospital worthy. Consequently, I was inclined to be dismissive of the contractions I continued to feel throughout the rest of the weekend, and I tried to begin the process of resigning myself to Speck never coming out. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when our Monday morning prenatal appointment revealed that a)I had begun dilating and was probably beginning true labor, and b)the stress of carrying Giant Speck had finally driven my blood pressure up to the point where they were going to induce labor whether it was beginning or not. This is the last known photographic evidence of my pregnant self, just after I had begun labor induction, and just before labor got strong enough that I would have bitten the throat out of anyone trying to take my picture.
Because Max was early, and therefore small, my labor and delivery with him was relatively easy. I have been hoping, throughout this pregnancy, that this ease might just be characteristic of a Chelsa in labor, but these hopes were slightly overly optimistic. Labor induction creates contractions that are harder, that start earlier in labor, and that follow a less consistent pattern than natural labor. This is a long and roundabout way of saying that after about five hours of unrelenting contractions that hurt a lot and did not work to get the baby out very quickly, I asked for an epidural. I have always been fearful about the whole needle-in-the-spine thing, and its possible side effects, but the risk of a lifetime of paralysis actually seemed like a really reasonable trade off for pain relief at that point in my labor. The guy who did my epidural did an amazing job. In fact, I experienced such an all-encompassing relief from pain that I very nearly proposed to him, and I probably would have done if I had had enough lower-body sensation to get down on one knee. After the epidural, I was able to relax enough that labor progressed very quickly, and I maintained enough sensation to move around as needed and to push the baby out when the time came.
Maggie was not so easy to share a body with, or to give birth to, maybe, but she is amazing and beautiful, and so wonderfully worth every ache and pain.
Our first night at home was not so very restful -- Max slept beautifully, Ian drowsed off here and there in between helping me with Maggie, but Maggie decided that eating was way higher on her list of preferred activities than sleeping, so neither she nor I got much rest. Even so, it was pretty unbelievable to curl up this morning with my two babies, tired (to the point of hallucinating, actually), but oh, so happy.