Well..with my first I started having mild contractions at 2am at night(thankfully, because I was almost two weeks overdue, which is the time limit at which midwives can still deliver in my state). It was slightly uncomfortable, but I didn't think it was *really* labor yet. I was scheduled for a non-stress test that day, and showed up at 2pm, still with light contractions. I was curious as to what was happening so my midwife checked me, and I was three cms but slid to five cms as she was checking me. So, I decided to stay there and labor, and ended up having my little girl at 11:48 pm, after a complicated labor that because her head was stuck at a weird angle inside me. Afterwards my mom remarked to me had I been in a hospital I probably would have ended up with a c-section, because at one point my cervix started to swell. So all in all, *soft* labor lasted about ten hours, which was pretty mild, and *hard* labor about nine hours.
With my second I was almost at the two week mark again, and hadn't gone into labor and my dds non-stress test was less than reassuring, so I had my midwife seep my membranes. Again, I had mild contractions from that moment on (it was about 8pm when she did the procedure) until about 2-3pm the next day, when labor started getting going pretty quickly. I went straight to the birth center, where I was found to be five cms. My was broken and I ended up with a premature urge to push, so my midwife just held my cervix open and I pushed from 7cms to 10cms, and my dd was born just 5? or so pushes later, at 7:45 or so. So pretty much the same...lots of hours of *soft* labor followed by a couple hours of intense contractions.