I didn't really feel any contractions. My waters broke without any and, due to the infection risk, 24 hours later our baby was induced. As I was confined to the bed anyway, which is considered one of the main disadvantages of an epidural, my indecision over whether or not to have one disappeared and I decided to take the drugs. Don't worry - we had our fair share of pain and issues that night and subsequent nights, not least because my placenta refused to budge, but contractions were not one of them.
I don't buy into the idea of pain as a positive force. I wouldn't have my wisdom tooth extracted without pain relief or my heart bypassed or any other operation without anaesthetic, so why would I for childbirth? But the pain of childbirth, unlike the pain of toothache, is so deeply embedded in our culture (Damn you, Eve) as something that women should go through, somehow I feel as if I cheated a little.
Isn't that ridiculous? I took a positive decision to make the most of modern medicine, to save my energy for when the baby arrived, to dull the pain that many women describe as making them feel they might die, and I don't think well done me, what a great decision, but I think I cheated. How deep misogyny runs huh, even amongst women, even against ourselves.