I know I'm very lucky, but I don't think it's so much because my births were speedy, as because I had healthy and uncomplicated births. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my experience for an excessively long or intervention-filled birth - or any other birth, for that matter. But I do think that in a perfect world I would have had a bit more time.
I don't want this to come across as all, "Woe is me!" - but I would like to present for your consideration a list of reasons why precipitous births can present their own challenges.
1. Fast And Furious.With a very fast labor it feels like you have been thrown into the deep end of the pool. There is no opportunity to get your sea legs with a gradual ramping up of intensity. It hits you like a truck. It's the same amount of work most people take twice as long (or more!) to do compressed into a couple VERY intense hours.
2. Timing and LogisticsThere is a very real possibility you might not make it to the hospital/birth center. Thankfully, the second time around I was expecting a quick birth, so we got out the door at the first sign of a contraction - and we still cut it too close for comfort. My daughter was born seven minutes after we arrived at the Birth Center. Thankfully my sister and brother-in-law were at our home when we had to leave, because if we'd had to wait for someone to come take care of my son we never would have made it. We had considered having a home birth - but since it wasn't covered by insurance, we just couldn't afford it.
3. Bye-Bye Birth PlanEveryone warns you not to bank on your birth plan happening to the letter - but of course everyone has a vision for their birth and if the reality doesn't match up there can be some disappointment. Thankfully, in my case, all the medical/intervention plans worked out. But I did have a birth mix, cooler of snacks, massage oil, and comfy socks that never saw the outside of my birth bag. Not a tragedy, certainly, but I did have to reconcile the vision with the reality. Some dear friends of mine had to trade their planned birth center birth for a parking lot and 3-day hospital stay.
4. Psyched OutDuring my first birth I didn't realize how quick it was going to be. I thought I had hours and hours ahead of me - and this freaked me out because I was already functioning at maximum capacity and knew there was no way I could keep this up for much longer. Little did I know, I was practically at the finish line. If you think transition is early labor it can really mess with your confidence in your ability to birth naturally.
5. As If Transition Wasn't Uncomfortable EnoughI do not recommend going through transition in a car. With a seat belt on. And red lights. During my second birth I had the unique experience of wanting to punch through the roof, vomit out the window, and claw for my partner's attention/support while she was trying to concentrate on the road.
6. Didn't Plan For A Natural Birth? Too Bad!Thankfully I had wanted a natural birth and had read, taken classes, and mentally prepared for it. I can't imagine having planned on a epidural only to have to face a natural birth without any preparation.
7. No, Really! It's Time!When I called the midwife during my first birth she tried to talk me out of coming into the birth center. "Just go back to bed, or take a hot shower and relax," she told me. I assured her that I should really come in. She hesitantly said I could drive over, "But when I check you I will most likely be sending you home again, so don't call your doula or family until after you arrive." She was so hesitant, that I was second guessing myself, too (See number four). Of course when I arrived she had to eat her words - but my doula and family almost missed the birth! The second time around I made sure to let the midwives know to expect a quick birth and that I planned on coming in at the first sign of labor - thank goodness!
Quick births can still be wonderful births - mine certainly were. Still, the next time someone shares with you that they had a precipitous labor, rather than dismissing it as easy, give them a pat on the back for a job well done.