I'd had a really emotionally upsetting and physically difficult first birth at home with a midwife, then a really wonderful second birth at home with a different midwife. After the birth she told me, "you know what, you didn't need me there." And I knew she was right.
My third pregnancy was different than the other two because I felt so free, so happy, so in tune with the baby. It was a little like being in love. I also felt strong and confident -- having made the decision to give birth unassisted, I for the first time in pregnancy really felt right with the universe.
I also had the blessing of my midwife, and knew I could count on her for help if I should need it. I felt very supported. My husband took a bit longer to come around.
But he did trust my instincts, and the more we talked about it the more comfortable he became with the idea. As I noted on another thread, reading Gregory White's Emergency Childbirth was a turning point for him.
So... I had two false starts, so intense that I felt little twinges of fear about having to go through that again for the entire birth, though I knew I could do it (having done it twice before.) But when the labor started for real, it was very mellow. I went through a night of mild contractions, then through the day. I was feeling that this birth should be filled with the spirit of the Goddess, LOL, I had had visions of my husband and I making love, ecstasy and all that. But when it came down to it, it was just life. Just like my life usually is, just sort of... there. You know? It was so NORMAL. So matter-of-fact.
Well, 24 hours later, into the second evening, the contractions finally starting coming close enough together that I felt like it was really happening. They started to be a bit painful, too, though no more painful than menstrual cramps. No big deal. I wandered around the house, listened to music, danced. It very slowly built in intensity until around midnight when I was really having to concentrate through the contractions. It was about then that I decided that it was time to get in the birth tub; that felt really good for a while.
Then my mother-in-law showed up. Stupidly, I had left a message on her answering machine early in the day, and she had just gotten home and come right over. Though I love her, I didn't really want ANYONE there, but I was at that point in labor when you just can't seem to express anything you're feeling. She sat on the couch and talked with me and my husband for a while, then when it became clear that the labor was really getting hard for me (I wonder how much her presence had to do with that) she retreated to another part of the house.
I was now moaning through contractions; interestingly, there was no more pain in my abdomen, it was only in my back. The baby was descending, but had not yet turned, and the back pain was quickly becoming unbearable. I groaned, wailed, shrieked, swore. I asked the baby to please come down, I told her I was ready. I went from sitting to kneeling to hand and knees to sitting again, all in one contraction. I couldn't get comfortable. I told my husband I didn't think I could do it any longer, and he said that this is just like it was before when it was almost over. I said, "no, the contractions are still too far apart." After another few contractions I abruptly decided that the tub wasn't where I needed to be, so I hopped out and kneeled on a thick foam pad in front of the recliner, draping my upper body over the seat.
I told my husband to go get some toilet paper because I was afraid I was going to poop. I was feeling really pushy. I couldn't feel her head, which I was not happy about, because I was in so much pain. Then I groaned and strained through one contraction, and suddenly I could feel her head, oh, and the feeling as she stretched my skin was so voluptuous, it was the most amazing wonderful thing. Like nothing I've ever felt. I was so full of her, so full of birth. Able to be totally inside the thing because there was no one observing me to make me self-conscious and take me away from it, just my husband who was totally swept up in it himself.
Then the second contraction, raging right through it, and her body slid out into my hands, onto the foam pad. I sat back, picked her up, and cradled her in my arms. 1:47 a.m. My husband saw her face, and seeing that she looked like her brothers said, "hello, little boy!" My MIL ran in, crying, laughing. I wasn't crying, like I thought I would. It was just so... NORMAL. And right. I turned over my red, alert baby and saw that she was a girl. And I wasn't at all surprised, even though I'd thought the whole pregnancy that she was a boy.
My MIL left the room again, and I got down to the business of birthing the placenta. I had thought that I would just relax and breastfeed until I felt the urge to push it out, but I wasn't very comfortable, so when the cord was cold we cut it, my husband took the baby, and I squatted over a bowl, twiddled my nipples, and waited. A few minutes later I gave a soft push and it slid out into my hands. Beautiful warm mass. I looked it over, looked intact, then sat back on the recliner on some towels, with my sweet precious perfect baby, both of us wrapped up in warm blankets, and my husband turned out the light, kissed me, and we went to sleep.