Well, I'm now pregnant with my second. My first birth went very well. We took Bradley classes and I had wonderful care from a CNM at her freestanding birth center. I am of course seeing her again this time.
I think my confidence was high because I knew that my midwife ALWAYS errs on the side of caution (sometimes to the point of it being annoying, like when she had me treating for a *possible* yeast infection at 35 weeks, just because I was having some pain with intercourse but no other symptoms--I ended up stopping the Monistat because I think I was allergic to it!) Anyway, I knew/know that if there is even the hint of something going wrong, she will either have me in to see a specialist (if during my pregnancy) or into the hospital, pronto (if during my labor). She has a lot of good connections with doctors and speciailists. She knows some VBAC docs, docs with the best external version success rates, perinatologists, docs willing to deliver breech, etc. Also, she will remain as my labor support if we transfer while I'm in labor.
Basically, I feel like I have all my bases covered with her. And she has proven to me over time how much she cares about being informed, and about moms informing themselves.
That confidence caused me to not really worry or speculate about what my first birth was like. Therefore I didn't really have any preconceived notions. I didn't have hopes or preferences or a "dream labor" mapped out in my mind. I just knew it would be hard and I would need to cope, but that it would just be one day and that I could do it.
When I actually went into labor, everything went much faster than I had expected. I just rolled with it and dealt with one contraction at a time. I was in transition by the time we got to the birth center. I had no idea, but was really excited to hear I was 7-8 cm already! Since I was already feeling the urge to push, I figured the baby would be there within an hour or two. I ended up pushing for 3 hours and fighting with a stubborn cervical lip, but I just kept on plugging. It never occured to me (probably because I was so intensely focused) to wish I had drugs; they honestly never corssed my mind. However, the feelings/urges I had while in labor were incredible. VERY uncomfortable. I had all back labor until pushing time. I never once recall my uterus hurting, only my back and pelvis-area.
Okay, so fast-forward to this pregnancy. I admit that I am nervous about how overwhelming labor was for me last time. I'm nervous that it will go even faster and we will have trouble making it to the birth center in time (espeically since we have to coordinate childcare arrangements). We don't live far away at all, maybe 7 miles, but in rush hour traffic it can be at least 30 minutes. Morning rush hour was the time we were driving there last time, and I was on the back bench seat of our minivan, on my hands and knees, drapped over the back of the seat moaning with each contraction. This time we only have a Honda Accord and there is a toddler carseat (and there will be an infant carrier too) in the back seat! So I guess I'm wondering how I'm going to manage the car ride there.
I'm thinking of doing some things differently. For one, I really over-exerted myself. I had not exercized during my first pregnancy, and I relied on adreneline for the birth. I spent a lot of those 3 hours pushing in a self-supported squat. Hard on my body, I found out the next couple days! Even towards the end of labor, i remember my legs just being all shaky and worn out. Also, I pulled my own legs back when I was in a reclined sitting squat. I have since found out (by reading Susan McCutchen's book) that I pulled them back the *hardest* way--that is, with hands on the outside of one's shins. She suggests looping your arms under your knees to where the crooks of your elbows are under the crooks of your knees. I'm going to remember this!! My arms KILLED me for a few days after birth.
I hope to try out the birth ball, and maybe even get in the tub for labor relief (it just wasn't a consideration with the first, since I was practically pushing by the time I got there. I don't want a water birth, and my midwife isn't wild about them either).
I just have a feeling that the intense, overwhelming crazy pushing sensation I experienced is probably something I am going to have at each labor. I just hope I am not told to lie on my side for 30 minutes and "blow like I'm blowing out a candle" this time! I had to do that at one point to prevent swelling to the cervix (that dumb cervical lip!) I'm really hoping I only have to push a few times and baby will come right down.
OH, this time around, I am doing aerobics 3x a week and squatting a lot, as well as stretching and trying to remember to do kegels and breathe very deeply.