Ah! Finally, I slept from 10 pm until 5 am without being woken up by my cold symptoms. I wish I could've gotten back to sleep, but I still feel better than I have in DAYS. And, (TMI here), when I blew my nose first thing, there was no goo! Hurrah! I may finally be kicking this stupid cold.
Neve, Cygnet made an important point about your own empowerment. I believe that a huge part of my almost totally positive birth experience (no drugs, in hospital, vacuum extraction+episiotomy required by circumstances) was because I knew what I thought I wanted (natural!), but I came to it very relaxed and open to allowing myself to request WHATEVER WOULD WORK FOR ME in the moment. As it happened, my relaxation techniques (practiced for months) worked well, and it never even occurred to me to ask for drugs.
On the flip side of that, nursing was so hard for us in the beginning (first several MONTHS, not just weeks) that it was almost unbearable. I think I came to breastfeeding with a much more rigid mindset, and I think that hurt me. Now, I'm still planning to try incredibly hard to nurse exclusively with this baby, but I also plan to research all my options, have backup and coping strategies, and be prepared to do what I must to avoid the total horror that was our nighttime experience in the winter of 2003-04!
And, like I always tell first time moms right off the bat:
HIRE A DOULA! It's the best money you can spend if you want to maximize the odds of having the birth you really want.
(And I'm not a doula myself like so many of the others around here who recommend them.
As if anyone would take that job for financial reasons.