I'm glad to see this thread!
DD was born in 5-2002 via c/s due to failure to descend after 3 hours of pushing. She was posterior. My water had broken with her before I was in labor, I was induced, had an epidural at 3.5-4 cm (no doula, just me and DH at the hospital). I had an awful doctor stop in while I was pushing who said "if you call that pushing you'll never get the baby out", and an annoying med student. Anyway, DD's heart rate dropped at one point, recovered, I tried another hour of pushing. And then agreed to c/s.
This past June, DS was also born via c/s after an attempted vbac. This time, i went into labor naturally. It gradually became stronger. My doula finally said that it sounded like I was in labor, but that I should still sit in a tub to see if it was for real. The contractions subsided a bit, I got out, laid down in bed, and my water broke about 20 minutes later. Then, I really got to feel labor!
I never felt it the first time.
Anyway, we went to the hospital (different hospital, and different practice--this time, midwives), where it took FOREVER to be checked in, and then once I was in the room (I got one with the tub), the nurse who was going to monitor me and give me my IV for Grp. B strep was nasty about how it was hard for me to be still while going through labor. Ultimately, the having to stay put for so long did in my resolution not to have an epidural. My midwife checked me, and hearing that I was at 5 cm, I asked for the epidural. At that time, I felt like my labor was great, DS appeared to be anterior, and I was tired of feeling like I needed to be a special case since I was a vbac--lots of women get epidurals and don't have c-sections. (And, I know two women with successful vbacs who had had epidurals; the key, I knew, was not having one too soon.) It was quite a while (at least 90 minutes or so, according to DH) before the epidural was in, so we speculate that I was probably closer to 7-8 cm by then. i did attempt moving before the epidural was in, and ended up in modified child's pose on the floor for 20 minutes or longer (cat pose?). The tub, alas, was wasted on me...I did offer to switch rooms, since I did feel guilty!
I was quickly at 10 cm, though a little too tense to push. I rested a bit longer, then began pushing. I could feel pushing, and had an urge to push. I could turn over and push on all fours (when it became clear DS was having some trouble descending), though it affected my heartrate. (This was all very different from three years earlier; then I felt nothing, and had no urge to push at all.) My pushing was very good, yet DS would move toward the pubic bone, and would immediately move back once my pushing stopped. The doctor on call from the practice was great; after checking me, said he was sure all would work out (in fact, DS started moving a little further along). Then, DS was back to square one. The doc was called in again with talk of the vacuum. I agreed to try; he seemed confident. DS's heartrate totally dropped. It came back up quickly, but I said let's do what we need to do. That was it. The doc looked relieved that I spoke first.
Apparently, DS's head was slightly asynclictic (spelling?). And, my ischial spines are extra bony/pointy. All the stars would have to be aligned for a baby's head to negotiate my pubic bone (i.e., perfect positioning). I believe that my doula may have thought that remaining on my feet could have encouraged his head to go the right way. DH firmly believes it wasn't happening--DS was not coming out regardless. And this was the man who told me our baby would come out for sure, and that uterine rupture would never happen...so, a glass is half-full kind of guy! Ultimately, I had the same result for the same reason--it was just a different experience getting there each time.