I was planning a natural birth, but that didn't happen. My water broke at the same time contractions started. I was in labor for 14 hours before I headed to the hospital (I wanted to labor as much as possible at home). At that point, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. So OBVIOUSLY I thought I was 6, 7, or 8 cm dilated by then. Welp, the nurses didn't believe my water broke (since I was a first time mom I'm sure) so they did a swab and it didn't fern. Then they checked me and I was 0, yes ZERO cm dilated. WTF! So, they did another swab and it didn't fern and they sent me back home
3 more hours of labor at home, and within those three hours I was in so much pain I couldn't stand it. I also had not been taking care of myself by eating. I was so worried about pooping on the table that I had barely a few crackers and a piece of toast since the beginning of labor. I was hydrated, but not well fed. I could hardly stand, my legs were shaking, I was shivering, and I couldn't find a position that was comfortable. All my labor pains were in my groin, never in my stomach or back or whereever the "normal" labor pains are. I was not expecting that. I felt like I had to poop from the beginning. I was miserable.
So, after three hours of hell, I told my doula and my dh that I was going back to the hospital and they WILL admit me bc this was unbearable. Like a 9+ on the pain scale. I was 99% sure at that point I was gonna opt for drugs. The only way I wouldn't is if I was transitioning already. Maybe?! I sure was in enough pain for it to be that stage of labor.
Back to the hospital we went. They checked me, and I was only 3 cm dilated! Then the nurse said, "Oh, at this rate, you'll be pushing in 8 hours." EIGHT HOURS?! I can't handle EIGHT MORE HOURS of this! So, epi it was.
Of course, now I know that the nurse saying "8 hours" was a bunch of BS. You can't predict how long it will take.
But I have to say, it was like night and day. Once that epi started working, I was able to talk and relax and not necessarily enjoy the experience - I was in the hospital after all - but endure it without feeling like I'd rather die.
I had the epi throughout laboring and pushing. It was another 8 hours before I started pushing (much like the nurse predicted, however, my contractions slowed from 1.5 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart; and I'm SURE I would have been pushing well before 8 hours had I not gone with the epi). I didn't feel the contractions at all, except I could tell when one was coming on from my increased heartrate. I had oxygen most of that time because ds's heartrate kept dipping. I had to stay on one side most of those 8 hours of labor because the umbilical cord may have been getting smooshed during the contractions when I was on the other side. Eventually I pushed, and I pushed ds out in 45 minutes, with dh telling me when to push.
No pain, except for two weeks after bc of the three hemorrhoids and three slight tears. (I thought "3" was supposed to be a lucky number!)
Even though the epi "saved" me, I think I'd still go for a natural birth if I had a 2nd baby. It's different the 2nd time I hear! And now I know what to do better (eat!) and what to expect.