Well - here are my stories - all involving drugs ... and the reason WHY I will be at home this time. As usual, I'm long winded
So just read it if you want to know about "typical" hospital experiences IME b/c just about everyone else I've talked with has a story like mine...actually most are worse from hospital birthing and avoiding "natural" birth.
dd1 - I was 35 weeks and diagnosed with toxemia. I had to be induced (my BP reached as high as 220+/100+). Started with and IV (standard procedure) and 2 doses of gel at 7 and 11pm and then I was "given" (read: no one asked me if I really wanted it and being my first, I didn't know) demerol and a sleeping pill. "They" said this birth could take days so I'd want to "rest" - woke up at 5:30am to my water breaking. By 7-8 they started pit and just before 9am, they recommended an epidural b/c one of the side effects is lower BP. I accepted b/c I didn't want a c/s. After getting the epidural at 9:30ish, I went from 2cm to 9cm in 20 minutes. For that birth, under those circumstances, I do think that (the epidural) was what my body needed BUT I did not need that sleeping pill or demoral the night before - they both whacked me out totally - so much so that there are parts of her birth I don't even remember - dh has to tell me about them. I had dd1 at 5lbs, 7oz after about 15 minutes of pushing at 10:45am. I had to be on mag sulf and bed ridden for 24 hrs b/c of the toxemia. She went to the NICU. Hospital stay: 4 days
Long story short: not the ideal birth, but considering the circumstances (my toxemia and being totally un-informed), it could have been a lot worse. Luckily I did not have c/s happy drs. IMO, the epidural was necessary as was the gel (that started by ctx - I don't know that I needed the pit) but the other drugs were not.
dd2 - on her due date, I had an ob appt and was sent to the ER b/c of my high BP and dipping + for protein in my urine (signs of toxemia). Turns out I was dehydrated, so the IVed me. As I was IVed, I started to have ctxs but once I was "hydrated" they wanted to send me home. I was still pretty mainstream then so I said "you have me here, I'm on an IV, it's my due date, I'm having ctx - you're inducing me" Of course, they were happy to do so. This was my best birth, but it still involved an IV, induction with pit and ultimately an epidural. However, I had the same experience with this epi, in that I went from 4-9cm in less than an hour. It took me almost 3 hours to push her out though b/c of the epi. Still, I did it, 8#4oz, no tearing, no stitches, ho forceps/suction. It was almost midnight - giving birth at a hospital in the "middle of the night" is so much different than the day time. Things were so much more relaxed and laid back. I held dd and nursed her on my chest before they even weighed her or cleaned her off (practically unheard of at a hospital). I had her almost an hour b4 they even asked for her. It was peaceful considering the circumstances. 2 days in hospital - the next day and discharged the third day since it was a midnight birth.
dd3 was my first natural labor...to a point. I started ctx at 11pm on her due date (having only experienced pit ctx before - I can't tell you the difference, I didn't think I could possibly be in labor it was so tolerable). By 6am, my ctx were lasting over a minute and 2-3 minutes apart, but they were so mild I just didn't think it could be labor. Went to the hospital anyway and sure enough I was 4cm. I was doing fine, really in the groove and the nurse came in and asked me if I wanted an epi. I have no clue why I said yes. I think just the "power of suggestion" and the fact that my labor was so easy I just didn't believe it could last. I had the GBS IV ab too and I think I wanted to ensure things would move fast so I didn't have to have the baby given an ab shot and with my last labors, the epi had moved things along in short order. Getting it this time was horrible. It took a full hour for her to get it in and the back pain from her failed attempts hurt more afterward than did the post-ctx or my perineum. Still, I went from my 5cm to 10cm in about 20 minutes again after that epi. It only took 11 minutes to push out 8lb/15oz and again, no tears, etc. I left the hospital in under 24 hours AMA that time. I got a lot of crap for not allowing an internal moniter, etc. I followed dd3 around everywhere and wouldn't allow many of the "standard" tests and I was just done with the intervention.
I think I'm choosing to homebirth this time as much b/c I don't want to deal with fighting hospital staff and interventions and suggestions that I can't do things w/out those interventions as much as I am b/c I've experienced 2 homebirths and I see what a beautiful experience it is.
My advice is BE PREPARED about what you want and what you don't want. BE RESEARCHED AND INFORMED so they aren't able to "scare" you into interventions whether that be drugs or things like internal monitors, IVs, vaccines, etc. HAVE AN ADVOCATE, whether it be dh and/or a doula - have someone there who can be strong for you when you're at your weakest (not that you're not strong giving birth, but you have to devote so much energy internally, it's sometimes easy to give in to an external source - does that make sense?). Have them remind you why you don't want drugs and that you CAN do it. And let them deal with the pesky hospital staff. b/c IME and IMO, they are going to be just as bad if not worse than what you are currently hearing from your medical friends and relations and it's a whole different situation to "ignore their advice" when you're working physically harder than you ever have before. When you're tired. When you might possibly be in excrutiating pain. HAVE AN ADVOCATE.
You can do it
And I'm going to do it with you "naturally" this time...finally!