Right before I gave birth I was thinking about writing a post about how I don't trust my body for crap and how it can't do anything normal with out medication and force and how I was pretty sure labor would be a nightmare. Well I never got to that post and it would have been all wrong about the labor. And if I had a time machine and went back and told myself a week before I deliver how stinking good I would have it I would have punched future me in the face. I've gotten most of the birth story written up, but it's crazy long (even for me) and I worry that some of the stuff that might be helpful to others gets lost in it, hence this post.
So before I dole out assvice on a subject I don't really know squat about, let me say that I do know this: I was LUCKY.
No amount or preparation (or lack there of in my case) can guarantee that things will go well. I didn't take any classes (my hospital didn't offer any) and my general m.o. was to just not think about it. I did read a couple of books and the one I would recommend to everyone is "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" (fun fact: one of my L&D nurses actually lived on The Farm with Ina May back in "the day").
Ina's book talks about a couple of very important concepts and the first is 'Sphincter's Law' which is about being comfortable during labor and keeping your sphincters loose... your cervix is a sphincter and if you hold your other 'sphincters' (mouth, throat, urinary and bowel) tight your cervix will be too. I've suffered from some killer TMJ before and because of that I have learned to be very aware of my jaw tensing up and to loosen it quickly. So every time I felt my jaw tense I immediately conditioned myself to loosen it, especially during braxton-hicks and later during what turned out to be real labor. She also told a story in the book about blowing 'horse lips' to keep the mouth and face loose. I thought that sounded dumb when I first read it and couldn't really even do it, but I started doing it when I felt like it after I read the book (which was early 2nd trimester) and I got better and better at using horse lips on a regular basis. I think both of those things helped to keep me loose. The result was pretty much painless dilation. I seriously had no idea I had completely dilated (I didn't think I could be more than a couple of cm) when I got to the hospital, I thought the real labor had just started (and if you recall, 3 days before my cervix had only been "soft" so that all happened pretty quickly).
Another really important thing in the book is to "let your monkey do it." You'll read a lot and be told a lot about giving birth but the best thing to do is what feels right to you. While pushing they kept trying to get me to give three pushes during a contraction but the third push just wasn't in me. I probably would have gotten worn out if I would have tried to push when I didn't feel it.
The other thing that I think made a huge difference was having a good dr. Going to McSoothy took me completely out of my comfort zone. She was an family physician at a po-dunk community hospital when their were all kinds of fancy OB/GYNs at the ritzy private and university hospitals. McSoothy was the physician for the local birthing center for a long time and was into helping me meet my goals rather than what was the most convenient thing for her. She took the time to stretch me out and was successful at keeping her reputation for keeping her patients intact. She also cared enough to listen to my concerns and test me for MTHFR. I don't know for sure what would have happened if I would have quit taking my baby aspirin like my first OB wanted me to do, but I shutter to think that somewhere out there is a girl just like me that may have been giving birth to a still child and not a live one because of an asshole OB that thinks they know everything.
And I think everyone that is planning on a vaginal delivery hears about "slow and controlled pushing" and I didn't really know if I would be able to achieve that or not but luckily I was able too (my monkey did it for me). I was really worried about running out of steam and getting tired during pushing but luckily that didn't happen at all. I had really nice breaks between pushes to rest and have some ice chips and only pushed when I felt it (my contractions were STILL very irregular and I would completely skip every couple contractions, so even though I was due to push I just took the chance to rest). He came down the birth canal very slowly and bobbed back and forth, and in and out a bit, stretching me out very slowly. It definitely wasn't a race to get him out and that was a good thing, but boy, was he born with a cone head! Oh well, it rounded out quickly. And, although my baby was smaller than we were expecting he was still a little larger than average and that may have actually been a good thing. They said when I was done that if he'd been a tiny 6lber or something like that I'd have had him out in 2 pushes and things wouldn't have had time to stretch and I'd have torn. So bigger babies aren't all bad.
And, if you have the stomach for it, I highly recommend having your baby placed immediately on you. Giving birth was the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to top it. Having your baby on you immediately is the best thing in the world after all the hard work... he's real and right there looking at YOU and your looking at him (and they can barely see this early on so you do really need to be right in front of them for them to see you at all). It's amazing, the most amazing thing ever, so get the most out of every second of it.
So there's the crib notes from my delivery. I hope that everyone that reads this is able to use this information some day soon if you aren't pregnant now. And if you are pregnant, I hope you have an awesome delivery. Apparently even fat procrastinators with tiny vaginas and big babies and bodies that they can't trust can have good deliveries.