I had waited for this a long, long time, but when rubber hit the road, I felt as though there's absolutely no way I can come through it alive.
On the up side, I did it, as of course I had no choice but to.
I recall that when I posted about my first birth experience, six long years ago, I was accused of glossing over things and understating the extent of pain, etc. Well, just to reinforce my reputation as a truthful person, I will honestly say that this time around, things were a lot more intense than the first two times - which makes sense, since the entire active labor was comprised in a much shorter time frame.
I was admitted for monitoring at 2 PM, and the attending nurse was totally unimpressed with the duration and spacing of my contractions, and was about to declare I'm not really in labor, when my waters broke. When I mentioned that last time, the baby came out about half an hour after rupture of membranes, I was finally taken seriously. A few minutes after 4 PM, just before the lighting of the Shabbat candles, I already held our new baby in my arms.
In between, and not that I want to dampen the spirit of anyone who's planning to do this without pain meds, I lived through hellish pain. As big a fan of natural birth as I am, if there had been a way to know in advance how painful it would be this time, I would have opted to have medical pain relief. As things were, however, there was nothing to do but go through with it (as the midwife, who was a real champ, reminded me).
The midwife who attended me was one big positive point throughout the whole experience. Things were quiet in the L&D, so she was able to be with me through it all. She helped me manage the birth so that not only I didn't tear at all, there was hardly even any soreness afterwards. As soon as our son was born, she placed him on my chest and I had some precious time admiring, snuggling and nursing him before anything else was done, even cord clamping. Only later the midwife proceeded to cut the cord and the baby was weighed, wrapped and handed to my husband, while I was getting cleaned up.
Two hours later, I was already able to get up, put on my own clothes, and go on business as usual. It was amazing - after all the pain, I was feeling great, barely as though I had given birth at all! The nurses couldn't believe their eyes when they saw me up and about as though I hadn't just delivered a baby. The vengeance came later, when the baby started nursing and the afterpains kicked in. I've heard they get worse with each birth, but it really was beyond any expectation. Thankfully, they subsided about five days later.
Time doesn't allow me to put into detail everything else that has been going on here, but I just wanted to say thank you for all the notes of friendship and support that had been sent our way. I couldn't reply to each one in person yet, as I've now taken time off pretty much everything in order to enjoy some complete peace and quiet with my husband, our daughters Shira and Tehilla and our new baby boy, Israel.