I actually delivered my daughter on my due date (9/13), which shocked me given the fact that I didn't have too many classic indicators in the days leading up to her birth that she would be making her entrance this past weekend.
It began when I woke up at 3:45AM with a trickle. I got up, went to the bathroom, changed my underwear, and waited to see if it was incontinence or an actual leak of amniotic fluid. While I was brushing my teeth at 4:30 AM, I had a bigger leak. Around 5AM I had my first noticeable contraction: the small of my back felt sore for a minute, then it faded. I called my doctor, who told me to stay hydrated and call back when the contractions were 3 minutes apart and 30-60 seconds long. My husband and I took walks around our neighborhood, and the contractions didn't seem like a big deal...until 10AM, when they got markedly more intense. I spent 8-11AM having contractions consistently 4-6 minutes apart, but their duration and intensity increased. After I threw up all of the water I had consumed that morning, my DH called the doctor to let him know what was going on, and the dr. told us to head to the hospital.
We got to the hospital around 11:30AM and when my doctor checked me (and damn, was that a painful internal), he told me my membranes hadn't ruptured but that I was 90% effaced and 3 cm dialated, so they were admitting me anyway. I was taken to the labor/delivery room my noon, where they started me on a quick drip IV so that I could get my epidural as soon as possible. Call me a wimp if you want, but I have never felt pain like I did in the 3 hours going from 3 cm-4cm. When the IV was done and the anesthesiologist showed up (after being in a c-section), I could have hugged that wonderful man and his magical drug. I know epis are a big topic of debate on these boards, but I am so happy that I chose to get one. The relief was almost instantaneous.
Shortly thereafter my doctor came in and ruptured my membranes; a few hours later I was 7 cm dialated. When I didn't seem to make more progression, my doctor told me that one side of my pelvis wasn't 100% vertical, and the baby's head was hitting it and therefore not fully engaged. He warned me that a c-section could be on the horizon, which understandably made me a little worried/scared. He had me lie on my side in the hope that the gravity would work its magic and the baby would move. I spent the next four hours drifting in and out; I was exhausted, but as time wore on, I started feeling a little queasy. When my doctor came back to check on me around 9:15 PM, he seemed pleasantly surprised: staying on my side had worked and the baby had moved. I was also fully dialated, so it was time for the big show.
My doctor stepped out for a minute and I felt an intense wave of nausea. I told the nurse and my DH and tried to motion for the trash can. The nurse grabbed a small bedpan instead...let's just say it wasn't quite enough. After my Linda Blair imitation, I felt much better. The actual pushing took only 30 minutes or so (I don't know for sure because I wasn't exactly clock watching). My nurse was very encouraging, as was my DH, and 17.5 hours after my first contraction, little Callista Evangeline came into the world at a dainty 6 lbs., 11 oz.
Unfortunately, I had developed a 102 fever at the time of delivery, so protocol dictated that Callie would be spending her first 24 hours in the NICU for observation. I got to hold her for a minute before they took her away, and I was mesmerized by her perfect little face. They started me on an antibiotic and within 2 hours my temp was 98.something. Callie had no temperature, respiratory problems or other issues, so we all got to go home late Tuesday afternoon.
My DH was incredibly sweet and supportive the entire time, and he is thoroughly enamored with his little princess. The nursing staff was excellent, as was my doctor, so the whole experience was incredibly positive.
You can read all the books and attend all the classes you want, but nothing really prepares you for the entire experience until you go through it. I think it really does change your whole perspective on life, as cliched as that may sound. I still can't believe that this beautiful little baby living in my house is ours.
Pic in bio (I think!) for anyone who's curious.