DD, now 5 months old, had a very different birth from my son. (You can read about my son's birth here too...) I decided I HATED the hospital and tubes and monitors inhibiting my movement and especially I hated the recovery rooms. I understood that with complications I'd end up in a hospital, but if there were no complications I wanted a drug-free birth, and a hospital-free birth. So my prenatal care was split between a midwife and an OB backup. I also hired a doula, someone focused on being my emotional support.
Anyway, it was 3 weeks before my due date, and I had a feeling everything would be early, so I wasn't too surprised early one Saturday morning when just before breakfast I knelt down to play with my son and it felt like I was peeing in my pants and I couldn't stop it. It was a trickling waters break with no contractions yet. So we called a friend to play with our toddler for the day; we called our midwife and we arranged to pick up a birthing tub at noon, unless I suddenly went into labor before then. (Mind you, this was no fancy birthing tub-- I had decided too late that I wanted one. This was more like a round plastic horse trough). Contractions progressed slowly and by noon were maybe 10 minutes apart. By the time we had the tub home again they were 5 minutes apart and I was breathing hard to get through them. We called the doula. My husband and the midwife were filling the tub with warm water. The water heater got sapped out early, and then it was like sorcerer's apprentice, with pots of water heated on the stove and carried and poured into the tub, etc.
Anyway, the doula was wonderful for staying with ME during this filling process (hello! I am sort of in labor here; highly emotional and all that!). I wasn't entirely sure about what I wanted to do with the tub, but when I got in the water eased the pain a LOT. I knelt on all fours during contractions and did not get out of the water until DD was born an hour later. Being able to use the water tub and get in that kneeling position helped the pain so much, that it didn't feel any more painful than the epidural birth of my son 2 years earlier. I was relatively unaware of the support from my doula and husband and midwife, but I did have a general feeling that I was well taken care of, even if I wasn't aware how or by whom.
I felt the ring of fire, momentarily, I stayed in the tub, I pushed her out in the tub in that same kneeling position and my midwife scooped her up from the water. The moment her face hit the air we saw her take her first breath, a tiny puff, and she was calm and beautiful. We went straight from the birthing tub in the kitchen to my own bed in the master bedroom, which had been covered with plastic under some old sheets. I held my beautiful girl in my arms and cuddled with my husband and newborn girl, all 6 lb 3 oz of her. We took out the afterbirth after a few minutes. The midwife and doula team cleaned out the tub, cleaned up any and all mess, and left us happily together in our home, bonding. They did follow-up visits to make sure all was well, about every other day for the first week. It was the most natural, supportive, gentle, and empowering birth experience I can imagine, that I got to choose how and where to deliver my girl but still had well-trained professionals ensuring my safety (and a hospital was only minutes away if I needed one!) I know a home birth is a really uncommon thing these days, but I highly recommend it. Midwives are extremely well trained, and the complication rate is very low, comparable to or lower than hospital deliveries. It was exactly the childbirth I had dreamed of.