My baby was due April 25th, which came and went with no signs of his arrival. Finally at 8 days past my due date, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning with regular contractions. They weren't exactly painful, more like mild but noticeable period cramps. I got up for a couple hours and then went back to bed and slept when it was clear that they were not getting any stronger or more frequent. Got up around 8:00 and just went around the usual business of the day:caring for my three and five year-old girls, doing some light cleaning and resting. It made me grateful for the frequent contractions I had experienced for several months as I had gotten so used to ignoring them. In the afternoon, we sent the girls to my parents' house to take their naps so we could get a longer nap in. My husband picked them up around 4:00 and while he was gone, my contractions increased in frequency from every 6-10 minutes to every 3-6 minutes. And, they became slightly stronger. All day long, I had my doubts if I was actually in labor. Now, I began to think this might actually be the real deal. I called our doula, Chandra, and let her know what was going on. She was on the road, but would be home soon and planned to head our way shortly thereafter. I had been hesitant to call her because I had now been contracting for 12 hours with no major change except a slight increase in the frequency and strength of my contractions. It seemed like it would be a very long haul yet. Mike took the girls to my sister's house for the evening, and then they later returned to my parent's house so we could have the house to ourselves to labor. It was a lovely evening, so he and I began to go for walks in between watching some TV. I was sure to drink plenty of water and eat every now and then. We also ran to get some crushed ice at one point, I couldn't get enough of the stuff for the last couple months. Chandra arrived at 9:15 PM and we continued to walk. My contractions were still very bearable. I had to do some focusing and breathing with them but could still walk and talk through them. So, we walked and walked. I honestly think we walked a total of about three hours when all the time was added up. Finally, I began to have more significant contractions around 1:00 in the morning. I actually dropped to my knees in the grass by the walking path for one contraction. Most of my laboring up to this point had been done hugging my husband while he and Chandra rubbed my back, but now I felt best leaning over the birth ball or in a hands and knees position. Around 2:00, I began to talk about how nice some drugs or an epidural would be. And, I began to need to vocalize at the peak of my contractions in addition to visualization. My favorite visualization was the rainbow from the Bradley workbook. Visualizing each color of the rainbow as well as an object of that color: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, white, bright white. Mostly, I found myself thinking of fruit with each color. Shortly after 2:00, I decided to try getting into the bathtub. Mike came into the bathroom with me and alternated rubbing my back and pouring water on my back or stomach. At one point, he poured water right in my ear in the midst of a strong contraction and I was so irritated! It threw off my entire focus! He felt terrible, but when the contraction was over, I reassured him that it was fine. All the sudden, the intensity of my contractions picked up. I was now moaning through most of the contraction and as soon as I got out of the tub, I had five contractions in a row with virtually no rest. It felt like one gigantic never-ending contraction. While in the bathroom, I directed Mike to go page our midwife and said I felt sure it was time to go to the hospital. Driving to the hospital was not so much fun. Luckily, we live literally 3 minutes away, so I only had one contraction in the car and two on the way up to L&D. We were in our room and I was placed on the monitor at 3:40 am. Our midwife,Nancy, arrived shortly after we did, and we all held our breath when she checked me. I was so sure that she would say I was only 4 or 5 centimeters dilated. It was still hard for me to believe anything was actually happening because it had now been almost 24 hours of labor. To my relief, I was 7 centimeters! She offered to break my water at that point, and I declined. I was so afraid the intensity would be too much for me and wasn't sure I could handle that. After the obligatory monitoring for about thirty minutes, I got into the whirlpool tub. To my disappointment, it was really very little help. I had to stand up and kneel out over the edge of the tub with each contraction. So, out of the tub and back to leaning over the birth ball with each contraction. The contractions were now reaching the unbearable point. I was having a hard time keeping my vocalizations low. Also, it was working better now for Mike to count up to thirty and back down as it made it more clear when the end of each contraction was in sight. This had been a suggestion of Chandra's, and it was really helpful. Chandra and Mike kept reminding me to keep my sounds low, and focus. I began to feel like I wanted to run away from the pain because I was feeling unable to manage it. I asked them to call the nurse and let them know I wanted Nancy to break my water. I knew that it might not make much of a difference in the long run, but I was desperate for the end to be in sight! Nancy told me I was nine centimeters and that my bag was bulging. She felt certain I would be ready to push after she broke my water, and she was right. I began to get a huge contraction right after, and immediately hopped off the bed with amniotic fluid still streaming down my legs and onto the floor. I assumed my favorite coping position: birth ball on the bed with one foot on the floor and one foot on the bed. Nancy told me to let her know when I was ready to push so she could throw on some gloves. I was concentrating too deeply to tell her at that point that I already was. When the contraction began to fade, I yelled, "I'm pushing." It hurt to push, so I was tentative at first with little test pushes. Then, the urge grew stronger and so did my desperation for this baby to be born and my labor to be over. I began to push with all my might and my vocalizations turned to what I can only describe as roaring. It only took me about 5 minutes to push while Nancy updated me on my progress. Also, I felt her apply warm, wet cloths to prevent tearing. Suddenly, I felt the ring of fire, and then the baby rotating and coming out. What a relief! I knelt up onto the bed, and my husband announced, "It's a boy!" We were both so excited! I was sure it would be another girl. Nancy passed the baby through my legs, and I held my bloody, bluish son. He pinked up quickly and we all began to exclaim about how big he was. When the cord stopped pulsating, Mike cut it, but the baby was nursing before that even occurred. The placenta was delivered on its own without any pitocin or tugging. When they weighed and measured Samuel, he was 9 pounds and 21.5 inches long. After the placenta delivered, he and I got back into the whirlpool tub and I gave him his first bath. Later, Nancy pointed out that his head had not molded at all but his face was bruised. He had been delivered posterior and had his head extended rather than flexed. I had feared a posterior birth all along as he had always been along my right side with his back to my right side. We had gotten him to go to my left side two days before he was born, but he went back to his favorite position. No wonder my labor was so long! It was very, very hard but I would not have had it any other way. I feel certain that if I had not learned about natural birth and chosen to have him without an epidural or medications, he would have been born by c-section or at the least had a shoulder dystocia. I didn't even tear, just a couple skid marks. This will be our last child, and I am so pleased to have finally achieved the birth experience I was seeking. I am very proud of what I did. It was a great feeling of accomplishment. And, I would do it all again!