It *rocked*! We had an unmedicated birth (this is the part that rocked) in a hospital (ok for us the 1st time around, but for this next time, we're planning a homebirth) and labor was great. I was really excited to see how it would start and feel and progress for me, since with all the reading you can do, you never know what it will feel like for you until it happens!
Here's the short version: Was a week "late" (whatever that means) and my water broke 12 noon on Sunday. Started noticing contractions about 18 hrs later at around 6am on Monday, woke dh around 8am, and by 9:30/10am I really needed to start concentrating on relaxing through each contraction, left for hospital 11:30am, arrived 12noon, pushed dd out at 2:41pm into dh's hands (he caught her)!
It was hard work, but very very good work. Not unlike running a marathon - you know it's gonna take a lot of effort and determination, but with the right physical & mental preparation and support (we took Bradley classes, which were a good fit for us, and had a doula we really liked, stayed active throughout pregnancy w/ yoga, had a positive outlook on the process, did a 1-pg birth plan that was specific but not off-putting, etc.), labor is very cool. I'm excited to see how this next time feels compared to the first!
Don't let the naysayers get to you - I had the same BS coming back at me when I was pregnant and saying I wanted an unmedicated birth. Some of my friend laughed and said, "Why would anyone want to go unmedicated through labor?" and "Well, don't be upset if you end up wanting drugs." Thanks for the support (bah)! And I was shocked at how people will tell you horror stories...
: What a disservice to a pregnant mom who needs to be told how empowering and wonderful and fabulous going through unmedicated labor can be!!!
Anyhoo - best to you, and congrats on your pregnancy! This is such an amazing time of your life.
I just bought a copy of this book (haven't cracked it open yet) that might be particularly interesting to you right now: Adventures in Natural Childbirth: Tales from Women on the Joys, Fears, Pleasures, and Pains of Giving Birth Naturally
Also, if you haven't yet read it, the 1st half is all birth stories and don't forget to check out The Farms statistics for birth (in 2nd half of book) - if that's not inspiring, I don't know what is!: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Let us know how things go this August, that is, if you are able to get time online after your wee one arrives!