My first birth was practically unassisted in the birth center- (the oldest in nyc, which is gone now)- due to some short-end-of-the-stick karma or something.
When I phoned them and told them I was in labor- they didn't believe me! First she said I hadn't had any ctx while on the phone, then when I said I'd had five and didn't know she wanted me to tell her, she said they weren't so bad I couldn't talk through them. I should have said, but didn't, hey, I read Spiritual Midwifery at 14, I don't want them to hurt!
She told me to try to sleep and see if they would go away. I was excited and eating lentil soup and my husband went back to his apartment to get his things (my daughter was two+ weeks "early," another reason the mw did not believe me). By the time he returned I had thrown up, was crawling on the floor hissing at him not to touch me, and in great pain. Called birth center again. They basically said if I came in they were all but sure they'd check me and send me home again, but if we insisted....
Crazy ride up FDR drive at 5 am. Hobbled into the birth center out of my mind with pain- no bag packed, nothing ready. Some bloody show and as I was examined I opened my eyes just in time to see the midwife- whom I had never met- mouth, "nine!" to the assistant. They had two other ladies already there, so I was left alone in the waiting room that had a bed for just such "emergencies." No tub, shower, amenities, etc. I lay on my side and held my husband's hand. When my water broke it was an explosion that shocked me and I had an immediate urge to push. Get her, get her, I said. The assistant came, I said I have to push. She said, "well you're just going to have to wait." At this point I made an unconscious decision to ignore these people. The midwife came in and said there was a slight anterior lip and not to push. I couldn't help it, so she held it back. Then began the struggle throughout my pushing phase to get me off my back. I was most comfortable on my back pulling my legs up and had no intention of moving just because some lady I'd never met before told me to. Only a few minutes of pushing and she was born. She was posterior and I know now for some women, babies and births on the back pulling the legs up is perfectly ok.
The midwives meant well but the whole situation was so bizarre. My current midwife, on hearing this story, said, well the positive thing is you know you can have a baby with no help whatsoever!
I had considered a homebirth that time but didn't look too closely into it, and was pretty happy with the Maternity Center, until the labor and birth! Only now when I have real care from a real midwife can I see the abyss between the two.