**Carla's story was the second place winner in the Birth Story Contest held at our blog, Raising Kvell**

I was just like every other suburb-living, Subaru-driving, Whole-Foods shopping, over-anxious first-time Jewish-mother-to-be.

I had it all planned out: we would stay at home as long as possible once labor started, watching romantic comedies and eating popcorn. I would take bubble baths and Josh would massage my feet while guiding me through the hypno-birthing affirmations we had learned in class. Once my contractions were close enough, we would calmly drive to the hospital where our midwife would guide us through an easy, peaceful delivery.

We had seen Ricki Lake's documentary, we had loaded up my iPod with soothing music, and we were ready.

I managed to hold onto this fantasy through a week of bed rest followed by an induction two days before my due date. Even though our plan to have a medication-free birth wasn't going to happen, I was determined to experience a natural childbirth. If nothing else, I wanted the Bad Ass Badge for delivering without an epidural. I spent the next three days breathing and bitching my way through sporadic and inconsistent contractions – I would have three in a row, back to back, enough to make me double over in pain and vomit, and then nothing for 15 minutes. Initially I was grateful for the soothing voice of our hypno-birthing instructor in my headphones, but after about 36 hours I wanted to find the woman and rip out her vocal chords. But I'm nothing if not stubborn, so I stuck with it. Unfortunately, my labor wasn't progressing. Apparently there is a limit to the extent to which I am willing to suffer for my daughter, and I found it before she was even born. By day four, I was begging for an epidural.

A couple of hours later I was relaxing in bed, enjoying pineapple popsicles and NCIS reruns, and reflecting on my first lesson of motherhood: drugs are underrated. Within a few hours my cervix had dilated enough for the midwife to break my water. The towels and pads they spread out were useless; nothing short of a wading pool would have contained the tsunami that splashed forth. I don't remember for certain, but I'm sure at least more than one person made some crack about needing an ark. Everyone's a comedian when it's someone else's amniotic fluid all over the floor.

Although the baby didn't float out on one of the waves, it was close. Within an hour I was pushing. The lyrics to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" were stuck in my head. After about 45 minutes, an eight pound, 11 ounces slimy alien creature emerged--the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The first words I uttered after learning that we had a daughter was "Thank God I don't have to plan a bris!" The midwife looked at me as though I was crazy, and then proceeded to tell me that I would "never look the same down there again". (Whatever, lady. At least I don't have a frickin' mustache.)

My oldest daughter's birth prepared me well for motherhood. I learned that children can torture you even before they're born. I'm now well armed with a healthy dose of guilt, which I fully intend to feed my daughter as needed ("FOUR DAYS, I tell you! Four days!"). I know that I can, and will, endure a lot for my children, but there aren't any Brownie Buttons for unnecessary suffering (although there really should be). I've learned that the extent to which I feel in control of a situation is directly proportional to how fast and hard the universe will kick my ass. And most importantly, I've learned that at the end of the day (or four), you've got a baby, which absolutely, without question, makes it all worth it.

Carla Naumburg

Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker. She writes the Mindful Parenting blog for PsychCentral, and her work has appeared on academic journals and a number of online magazines, including The Huffington Post, Parents.com, The Jewish Daily Forward, JewishBoston.com, and InterfatihFamily.com. Carla is currently writing a book on mindful parenting, to be published by Parallax Press in the fall of 2014. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and two daughters.