Have you ever had a kick ass leg cramp? In pregnancy I had some doozy's.
Leg cramps make you cry out in pain, tears run down your face, you swear, you make grandious statements, you think its never going to end etc etc.
But then you get up and you walk around, you stretch your toes. And the cramp subsides and its all good.
For me, birth was like that. The cramps hurt like a mutha. But I rode the wave and got over the hill. I had NO2 gas at the hospital I chose and actually laughed during contractions. They turned off the gas (doh!) so that I was only breathing air and I still survived
(Note to self: dont laugh infront of labor nurses next time ;P).
I looooved pushing. Very intense. But not wall crawling painful like a contraction. Just like a ginormous bear hug taking away my breath. I was on all fours curled over. DS got a shoulder stuck (I should have stood up, I got the urge but stayed on all fours) and had a 3rd degree tear. I didn't feel anything because it was all numb.
A great book for me was "Natural Childbirth: the Bradley Method" by Sarah McCutcheon. This book really gave a great description of what I could expect during labour, no fairy dust. In the end, I think birth was more painful during contractions but less painful during pushing and crowning than I expected. So I vote a draw, lol