DS #1 - started contractions around 4 a.m. Went to hospital at noon, finally got checked in around 1 p.m. I was a good little patient and stayed in bed, made it to 5 cm by 7 p.m. The doctor at that point decided it was time to break my water, and that's when it got intense. That's putting it mildly. I was in total agony, more or less blacking out from pain. Got a check and I had dilated from 5-8 cm as soon as my water had been broken. They rushed in an anesthesiologist, who gave me a spinal block (to immediately take away the pain), and then an epidural. I was able to relax for a bit, pushed for about 10 minutes, and he was born at 9 p.m. So I guess I was in labor for a total of 17 hours, and the labor was really quite easy until I let the dr. break my water...
DS #2 - labor started around 6 a.m. Went to hospital at 8 a.m., checked in at 9 a.m., got epidural at 1 p.m., he was born at a little after 5 p.m. So labor was about 11 hours, and never really got intense because I asked for an epidural before I was ever in any real discomfort.
DD - labor started 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. I was planning a med-free birth with her, so I labored all day at home. Went to the hospital at 10 p.m., but was only dilated to 3 cm, so went back home. Labored all night, then went back to hospital at 4 a.m. Had finally made it to 5 cm, so they admitted me. I did a lot of walking around, and sat on the birthing ball for a long time. Was at 8 cm at 8:30 a.m., and my midwife suggested breaking my water. I had told her I didn't want that done, due to my experience with ds #1, but since I was so close, and had been in labor for so long, I consented. She broke my water a little after 8:30 a.m., and about 15 minutes later I was ready to push. Less than 5 minutes (just two contractions), and dd was born. So my labor with her was about 23 hours. Very long, but very easy and gentle. I don't recall ever really being in pain. The only intense moments were the 5 minutes of pushing. I loved her birth.
Now, I'm looking forward to dd #2's birth. We're planning a home birth this time, and I'm really anxious to see what my labor with her is going to be like. I've often heard that women who have had both hospital and home births experienced labor quite differently at home, so we'll see what happens.