I realize that my birth story is kind of old news, considering that E is nearly 16 months old BUT I've been checking out all these other mama blogs this weekend and reading their birth stories has made me nostalgic, and so I decided to write this post anyway.E was a natural birth. Before I was pregnant I always thought, "What do I have to prove? It's not like you get a trophy if you go natural." But your whole world changes when you're staring at a positive pregnancy test for this first time. And then you begin to consider things you never thought would interest you before. I started reading and became more and more convinced that I want to try to deliver my baby naturally. I have nothing against mothers who opt for medical intervention but this was what I wanted for me and my baby. I researched the typical natural birthing methods, Lamaze, Bradley and Hypnobirthing. The Bradley method seemed the most appealing to me. I never took their classes but I read Dr. Bradley's book as well as the one pictured above by Susan McCuteheon. I also practiced relaxation regularly with my husband and we took a 4 week class that our hospital offered. I remained active throughout my entire pregnancy, meaning I would do my usual cardio in addition to the exercises recommended in McCutecheon's book. My labor and delivery was a really positive experience and I'm looking forward to giving it another go down the road.I wrote down E's birth story a long time ago, here it is:Three days after my due date I woke up kind ofcrampy. I tried to ignore it and it would come and go throughout the day. Thatmorning I even went to the gym and walked for an hour on the treadmill! Thecramping was not enough to take my full concentration at that point; it wasjust a little annoying.I went out to dinner that evening with afriend, and at one point, I realized that my "cramps" had becomecontractions and that I was having trouble staying engaged in conversation. Iask my friend to take me home and called my husband to meet me there (he hadbeen working late that night). Around 7:30pm we were both home and startedtiming the contractions for the next hour, sure enough they were 3 to 5 minutesapart and were growing in intensity. We called the doctor and were told to headfor the hospital. It was 9:30pm when we arrived and after 30 minutes in triagethey checked me and I was only 1 cm, they told me to walk around for an hour. .. so we did, stopping every time I had a contraction so my husband couldmassage my lower back (I had back labor nearly the whole time). During our hourof walking, I puked twice (my dinner from earlier). Finally around 11pm theycheck me again and I was 4cm! So they decide to admit me. While they weregetting us ready to be admitted my water broke (glad I was in a gown at thatpoint . . . because eeeeeeeewww).When we got to our L&D room, we dimmed thelights and put on the relaxing music we had brought with us. We had planned anatural birth and now we were putting all our relaxation practice to the test.Still I was having a lot of back pain. The nurse (who was AWESOME) brought us alabor ball and had me sit on it, she raised the bed up so that I could rest myhead on it while sitting on the ball, the idea being that this position would help thebaby turn so she could make her way out for delivery and relieve my back pain.For the next 4 hours I sat this way while my husband alternated betweenmassaging my back with jasmine lotion and applying heat or ice to my lowerback--this was very helpful in relieving the pain. I would try to relax as muchas possible in between my contractions and my husband did a great job oftalking me through it each time a contraction came. Around 3am the nurse came in to check on me.She said, "I was watching your contractions at the nurses' station and Ican't believe how quiet you're being!" She checked me and I was at 8cm! Atthis point I knew that I was going to be able to make it without an epidural,even though my contractions were getting more intense, my back pain waslessening, the baby had turned and was getting ready!My husband helped me back into the bed, thenurse was whipping together everything for the delivery. At 3:30am she checkedme again and I was 10cm. . . .only problem was the doctor was not there yet!The next 15 minutes were the hardest of my entire labor (and the LONGEST 15minutes of my life). With every contraction I could feel the baby pushing outof me on her own. The nurse would count through each contraction while myhusband would say "blow, blow, blow . . ." to help me breathe throughthe contraction to keep from pushing. I didn't know how much longer I couldkeep the baby in.Finally the doctor showed up, and I couldstart pushing. After pushing through 3 contractions . . . she was out. Mybeautiful baby girl, 7lbs 11oz, 19.75 inches. She came into the world naturallyand peacefully, just like we wanted. I remember looking into her eyes for thefirst time and thinking "I want to remember this forever"--and I knowthat I will.