Here is my birth story with Gunnar, for those of you who are interested:
For the few nights preceding the night I went to the hospital, I was awoken by timetable contractions. They weren't painful, but definitely uncomfortable. They started out the first night about 25 minutes apart, then the second night were about 15-20 minutes apart. The next day, which was Thursday, I had contractions that were 15 minutes apart for much of the day, but they were still mild and would get even more mild if I were resting.
Thursday night, I was awoken by contractions that were 10 minutes apart.
That next day, Friday, I had them throughout the whole day, but they were still mild that I'd have to sit to notice them. They gradually got closer together and were 7 minutes apart by the afternoon. In the evening they were 6 minutes apart, but still totally bearable. I was really confused at this point because I'd imagined contractions this close together to be unbearable where I knew we needed to get to the hospital. But mine were so mild that I didn't know if we should go in or not. We go to church with one of the labor and delivery nurses at the New Bern hospital, so I spoke with her that night. She told me that if they're consistently 5 minutes apart, even after drinking a big glass of water and resting, to go in, because I'd already been 3 cm dilated that Tuesday before. Once I laid down for that evening to go bed, they weren't noticeable.
I woke up on Saturday and laid in bed for a while to time what I was feeling. I was having on and off period-like back pain (which is what I mostly felt the precious days-all the pain was in my back) coming in 5-6 minute waves. Hunter had his very first soccer game that morning though and at this point, I wasn't going to miss it, even if it meant going to the hospital from the game!
The whole day, they continued at 5 minutes apart but I wanted the kids to get a nap and Greg had an errand to run. Even though I felt silly because they were no where near painful, after naps we packed the kids up, took them to the babysitters', and headed to the hospital.
After registration and all that hoopla, I was finally hooked up to a monitor just before 7. Since we arrived right at shift-change, we just waited for the new nurse while my contractions were monitored. She came in and said, although mild, it was picking up consistent contractions at 5 minutes apart. When she checked me, she said I was dilated to an easy 4, and 70% effaced. (I'd only been a 3 and 10% effaced on Tuesday.) She said they would probably keep me but the doctor had to make the final decision. When he came in and she told him my progress from Tuesday, he agreed to keep me! He said they would break my water and see how things went from then, and if needed, they'd use pitocin to speed things along.
My nurse knew I wasn't getting an epidural, and so I said I'd like to avoid pitocin because of that. She said she was fine with that, even if it took all night.
At about 8:30, the doctor finally broke my water. After that, I gradually felt the contractions grow in their intensity for the next couple hours. I just had to breathe through them and then I was fine in between.
About 10pm, I decided to get out of the bed and sit on the birthing ball which was way more comfortable and then Greg would push on the small of my back (where most of my pain was) to alleviate some of the pain during contractions.
At 11:30, I was only a 5 (yet in a LOT of pain) so I decided to walk to try to bring him down. When I had a contraction, I had to lean on Greg and I'd put my head on his stomach and just breathe through them. I tried the birthing ball for a bit more after walking got too painful. I even sat on the potty chair for a few contractions because I actually felt like that position was helping move him down.
At 1:00am, I was in too much pain and I decided to get an IV med. My nurse checked me and said I was about a 6 and gave me Nubain, but because it makes you loopy, she said I had to lay in bed. She warned that I might still be feeling it when it was time to push (because I'd said earlier that I didn't want to be loopy while pushing) but at that point I didn't care. If it was going to take the edge off of the contractions, I wanted it.
For the next half hour, I laid in the bed and had the weirdest, Nubain-induced thoughts in between contractions. Around 1:20 though I could feel that he was definitely getting close. I beared the next couple contractions, and then during one of them, I could feel him right there and I felt like I wanted to push. I managed to say "call her" to Greg and he pressed the call button. All he said to her was, "She just told me to call you!" Thankfully, my nurse had taken us seriously when we told her how fast Kylee came. She rushed in, checked me and said, "Are you ready to have a baby?" It was 1:31 at that time, and after 2 contractions, Gunnar was born at 1:38am on April 15th, weighing 8 lbs 2 oz and was 21 inches long.
It was certainly painful with no epidural, but recovery (at least at the hospital) seemed to be much better. I was already up and showered the next morning, just 6 hours after giving birth. And I had no chance of crazy side-effects during the postpartum period. I had nerve damage from Kylee's epidural for months afterward. It's so nice to not have to worry about that.
I can't see myself getting another epidural with future labors. I did it once - why go back?