I didn't go into this experience feeling brave.
When the nurse came into my hospital room, checked me, and said that it would be time to push soon, I started shaking so hard that my teeth clattered together. I didn't want to do it again, didn't want to think again that I might be dying, or that my child might be dying because I wasn't strong enough as a person or as a mother to get her out of my body safely.
I also didn't go into giving birth determined to have a "birth experience" like I've heard so many mothers-to-be talk about. I thought a birth experience was the domain of women who chose to go the all-natural route, who wrote out detailed moment-by-moment plans and wanted to involve things like baths and midwives and custom playlists and fancy breathing exercises. I thought that I just wanted to have the baby, have it hurt as little as possible, and be on my way so I could get to the real stuff of motherhood.