My characters are specifically barred from being subjects of this answer. If I let them have their way, they’d do nothing but blather on about how many horrible things I subject them to for the purpose of the story. That they’d be right is entirely beside the point.
I considered this question for a bit (and found it a little unsettling to realize I had numerous instances to compare and contrast), but concluded that the most accurate answer is also the one most expected, unto the point of cliché, for a mother.
By the sixth month of my pregnancy, my midwife and I knew the birth might not go smoothly. Hip dysplasia does complicate such things, and I was already having trouble walking. Because I carried the baby so low, there was fear I’d deliver too early, and I was placed on modified bed rest. Alas, the boy was two weeks late.
Still, my first desire was for natural, drug-free childbirth. When labor started in earnest, my hips didn’t properly spread and relax for the birth even though labor went from zero to fully dilated in about five hours. The contractions kept coming, like sledgehammers on iron doors. I remember my vision going black, then exploding into white light, over and over. I passed out at some point, only to awaken to another contraction and talk of my baby’s erratic heartbeat.
The decision was made to prep me for an emergency C-section. The first attempt at an epidural failed. The second attempt worked. Within a few minutes I came back to myself enough to look around the room, tell folks they looked exhausted, and suggest they go get sandwiches or something. I spent about two minutes on the phone with Patricia, who was calling from London to see how things were progressing. I loved my epidural.
Then I told the midwife I could still feel the contractions, but not the horrendous pain, and asked if I could try pushing. Not long after, my son was born.
I’d been told to expect a great deal of discomfort after childbirth–to have trouble walking, sitting, getting up and down. My experience was quite the opposite. I’d had chronic hip pain for months. Without the pressure of the baby sitting on my pelvic floor, I felt marvelous.
And thus my son is an only child.