My first daughter, Fiona Ruth, was born Saturday, 6/7/08 at 9:55am. She's gorgeous and so sweet, and tiny at 6 lb 10 oz. Just wonderful.
Labor started early Thursday morning with painful contractions about 10 minutes apart. As the morning wore on, they got closer together, only to space out again in the afternoon. Thursday night I had contractions that were 5-10 minutes apart the whole entire night, which meant I only slept in between contractions, and only for some of them as a lot of the time, I was up trying to encourage labor. The prodromal pattern continued all of Friday and by Friday evening, my patience was wearing thin. I asked my midwife if she could stop by the house and check my dilation--I was found to be 2 cm and 90% effaced, but still posterior around 10pm. The baby was right under my pubic bone and causing huge amounts of painful pressure. She went home and I tried to sleep--but again, the contractions were painful enough that I woke for each one and got very, very little sleep. At that point, though, we were hopeful that labor would pick up within a few hours and she should be born by morning.
Saturday morning at around 8am, I called the midwife to complain that my contractions has once again spaced out to 10 minutes apart, though they continued to get more and more intense. I told her that even though I desperately wanted a homebirth, I knew my limits and that I could not handle another night with no sleep--so I decided that we would transfer to the hospital and ask for the whole shebang--epidural and pitocin if the baby wasn't born by 5pm or so. I got off the phone at about 8:20am, chatted with my mother until about 8:50am, when I decided that she and the kids should get out of the way as their conversation was really starting to annoy me. I retreated to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and immediately began having contractions about 2-3 minutes apart and WAY more intense than anything I'd ever experienced (my first two were epidural births). I was quite vocal and my mom told me later that she was really worried that my boys were getting upset (though I don't think they actually were). I told my husband to call the midwife, and then he started getting the bed ready. I wondered a few times if I was just being melodramatic, but I couldn't for the life of me not react in that way to the contractions. They weren't especially painful, just extremely intense.
As I started to recognize a faint pushy feeling during some of the contractions, I worried a bit about whether the midwife would make it. My husband was being a saint and holding a cool washcloth to my forehead in between contractions, reassuring me, and being very positive. And he kept asking if I wanted to move off the toilet and into the bedroom, the poor thing.. he must have been terrified. Nothing at that point could get me off the toilet, though I had it in my head to hobble to the bedroom as soon as I felt that the birth was truly imminent (guess I was still in denial). Well, the contraction that heralded true descent and pushing was pretty much the same contraction that birthed her head. I remember swearing a bit and alerting my husband to the fact that the baby was coming right then. He definitely sounded worried but was present enough to do what needed to be done. He practically begged me to stand up as he really couldn't reach in between my legs to grab the baby, and we didn't want her flopping out into the toilet bowl. Somehow I managed to lift up enough that he was able to grab her as she came out. My eyes had actually been closed the whole entire time since I first sat on the toilet, and I finally opened them after feeling that final relieving woosh of the baby's body coming out. There was my husband, fairly covered in blood, holding our daughter who was already breathing and looking around. Somehow the cord ended up breaking (I think he may have accidentally moved her too far away from me), and I kind of panicked because it was bleeding freely. The midwife still wasn't here, so I grabbed the baby and pinched her end of the cord shut. My husband flung a teeny washcloth at me to dry/warm the baby (too funny) while he ran to get the phone. The next few minutes passed in a confusion of him trying to find the midwife's cell phone number, me telling him to get my mother upstairs now (I was so worried about the cord, I wanted something to tie it with), my mom coming into the bathroom not knowing that I'd had the baby and the complete look of shock on her face, my mom demanding that we call 911 (and my husband thankfully saying no), and the midwife arriving finally.
We tied the cord, I birthed the placenta and showered, and we all got into bed. Amazingly, I didn't tear at all and have no stinging when I pee nor does it hurt to poop. The baby is perfectly healthy and nurses nonstop. We figured it out later that she was born at 9:55am, barely an hour after active labor started. I felt really bad that my boys missed the actual birth--they were so excited to see her be born and they wanted to help the midwife, but it couldn't be helped. For me, I'm still just shocked that we ended up with an unassisted birth, that I only had an hour of active labor and pushing, and that it wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be. I didn't have any of the usual 'symptoms' of transition, unless you count the frequent tantrums during the prodromal stage where I insisted I couldn't do this anymore, that I wanted to go to the hospital now, etc.
Anyway. The prodromal part of labor sucked majorly, but I'm sure that's what enabled me to have such a fast and fairly easy active stage and birth. It was both exactly what I expected (a fast, easy delivery) and the exact opposite of what I expected (a looooong early stage).