A friend just had a baby this weekend. It was her 3rd baby so we were all expecting her labor to be pretty fast. I should have known better. I've had 3 babies and just as each of them are unique and have their own personality, so too my labors each seemed to have a personality.
Perhaps if we changed our thinking a little bit, we would better understand. We tend to think of labor as this horrible thing that you have to endure before your baby comes, but it usually gets easier with subsequent babies. I"ve come to realize that labor is more of a *dance* between mother and baby. Contractions begin and Mom begins to move, she gets up and walks around, and tries various positions that she learned in birthing class; she starts the dance. Baby is also moving, turning his/her head, kicking his/her feet, trying to find just the right way through mom's pelvis.
You see, I don't belive that Mom is doing all the work, baby is an active participant. I have also learned from my children, that although we do nurture out children and try to raise them into civilized human beings, they are born with a personality, that is not something created by us parents.
My oldest son literally come running into this world, after a 6 hour labor and only pushing for 20 minutes...and he hasn't stopped yet! He is full of energy and always on the go. My second son took us off guard. We were expecting my second labor to be even faster than my first (which is often the case), but no, my labor was 17 hours. He was in no rush to get here. He needed a little bit longer time during labor. His personality is laid back, calm and cool. I still can't get him to rush to put shoes and coat on to get out the door when I"m in a hurry! Now, by the time I was pregnant for the 3rd time, I had figured out that I was not the one in control! I had no expectations and my labor was somewhere in the middle of the other two, closer to 9 hours. He too has his own personality, but his stubborness reminds us of our oldest son.
It's hard to not always have control over things. I have learned this lesson over and over as a parent. And I still need reminders every now and then. Women do not control their labors, but they must move with it and dance with their baby until that scared moment of birth.