Adelyn's Birth Story

We named her Adelyn Jo Payne.  Adelyn because we’ve liked the name since I was pregnant with James and had it on reserve ever since for a girl someday, and Jo after my mother and her mother who share that middle name.

Adelyn’s birth story is short and sweet, much like her.  (She was a teeny, tiny peanut at birth--the smallest of my babies--weighing only 5 and a half pounds.  And of course the sweetest girl you can imagine.)

For my second round of pregnancy and birth abroad, we decided to stick with what we knew and deliver at the government hospital rather than the private one, since the previous time had gone well enough.  The story begins with the fact that it is this hospital’s policy to not let women with “high risk” pregnancies go overdue at all. I was considered “high risk” due to hypothyroidism, so they scheduled me for an induction one day after my due date, on Saturday, December 9th. I debated about whether or not to argue with them to allow me some more time to go into labor on my own, but in the end I realized that above all other factors I wanted the experience to be marked by peace rather than conflict, so I decided to cooperate with the induction plan.  Another motivator for being induced on that day was that the timing worked out perfectly so Justin would get to use his one week of paternity leave during the last week of school before Christmas break (otherwise it would have been forfeited) and we’d be able to make concrete plans in advance with a babysitter for the boys during the delivery time since it would be planned and not a surprise.

In typical Brunei style (and I say that with mostly sincere affection and only a smidgen of annoyance) I was told by the doctor to check into the ward at 10 AM on Friday for my Saturday induction, but when I arrived the nurses told me, “We don’t have any beds available.  Come back tonight, lah.” So Justin dropped me off after dinner that evening and on the second try they admitted me and I settled in for the night.

On Saturday morning they woke me bright and early with the morning prayers (4 AM) for fetal monitoring.  At 6 AM they checked my cervix and it was completely closed, then began the induction by inserting a pessary.  They instructed me to remain lying down for the next hour, so I went back to sleep. Around 7:30 AM they did another round of fetal monitoring and afterwards instructed me to walk the halls.  If labor began, great, if not I would be given another pessary around noon.

So from about 9 until 10:30 AM I walked the halls and listened to podcasts.  Another lady was walking at the same time and we gave each other polite smiles every time we passed each other.  Around 10:45 AM I started to feel a few mild contractions and an intense downward pressure within my pelvis as (I assume) baby girl was dropping down. At 11 AM they hooked me up to the fetal monitor again and I ate some lunch around noon.  Contractions continued, though still fairly mild.

Because I was still in the ward and sharing a room with three other ladies, Justin was not allowed to be with me unless during visiting hours (noon-1:30 PM and 5-9 PM).  He stayed at home with the boys all morning and planned to come at noon (but actually didn’t make it until around 2 PM).

Around 1 PM they checked my cervix and said I was dilated to 2-3 cm.  They said I wouldn’t need another pessary, since I was already in labor, and advised me to continue bouncing on the birth ball.  I inquired about starting IV antibiotics, since I had tested GBS positive and was told by the doctor to remind the nurses I needed it (standard treatment during labor to protect the baby from contracting a GBS infection while passing through the birth canal).  The nurses said they would call up the IV antibiotics and move me downstairs to the labor and delivery floor (where Justin could join me) as soon as a bed became available. At this point a nurse turned to the doctor and said, “She will deliver before 10 pm.”

One thing I’ve come to expect about Brunei life is that things move much slower than I’m used to.  Efficiency is not as high of a value here as it is in the US. Unfortunately, this did not work out in my favor because my body decided to be extremely efficient from this point on in the labor, but the nurses didn’t quite follow suit.  

From 1-2 PM I bounced on a ball, listened to music, and timed my contractions.  By 2 PM my contractions were 3 minutes apart and much stronger so I hobbled out to the nurses station and told them so and asked if I could move downstairs yet.  They said not yet because they were still waiting on the IV antibiotics to arrive and told me “Just let us know if it’s getting really strong,” to which I said, “I’m telling you that right now,” and I went back to my room.

The next hour got pretty tough.  Contractions were strong and I was alone.  Justin had arrived on the hospital grounds by this point, but was running administrative errands (changing my misspelled name on my hospital records and booking a private room) and wouldn’t have been allowed in the room with me anyway.  I breathed and bounced and listened to music through my headphones and coped. The IV antibiotics never came.

At 3 PM I was really wanting Justin for support, so slowly I made my way out to the nurses station again and told them the contractions were really strong and could I please move downstairs because I needed my husband.  (When telling the story to my mother-in-law she asked, “Why did you have to go out to them for goodness sakes, didn’t they have a call button?” They did, but I didn’t use it...I don’t know why!)

They said no, still waiting on the antibiotics.  A nurse told me “You just need to breathe through the contractions, that’s all you can do” and demonstrated.  I nodded while internally rolling my eyes because with this being my third unmedicated labor I was pretty sure I knew how to breathe through a contraction.  They shrugged their shoulders and I didn’t go anywhere so they asked did I want them to check my progress? I replied yes I guess so if that’s the only thing that can be done right now.  So they checked my cervix and said I was at 5 cm. Yet I noticed I had already started feeling really nauseous with each contraction and shivering/shaking, which is what happened to me during transition (7-10 cm) during my previous labors.  After the check as I was re-dressing my lower half I had a strong contraction and vomited up my lunch all over the floor. I came out of the exam room and apologized and told a nurse what had just happened. The vomit finally got their attention.  

In retrospect I think the nurses just didn’t realize things were progressing as quickly as they were, but the vomit clued them in.  They started arguing amongst themselves, one saying they needed to get me downstairs since I was obviously very uncomfortable but another saying what about the antibiotics?  They decided it was time to move and brought a wheelchair and pushed me down to the delivery room.

Once in the delivery room they checked my progress again and said I was at 6, almost 7 cm.  They gave me an enema and started to hook me up to a fetal monitor but within those 10 minutes or so I must have gone from 7 to 10 cm dilated because suddenly I felt the urge to push.  I let out a huge groan on the first pushing contraction because it caught me by surprise so I didn’t push. The midwife said, “Wait you need to wait until you’re fully dilated before you can push.”. Another pushing contraction came and I yelled “I need to push!” so she checked my cervix and said with a surprised look on her face, “Ok you’re at 10!”  

Justin still wasn’t in the room at this point (!) so a nurse ran to get him.  The next contraction they told me, “Wait if you want your husband to witness the birth,” but I couldn’t really stop myself.  Justin walked in and his face was priceless--I will remember it forever. He had no idea I was progressed as far as I was and was expecting me to be somewhere in the middle of labor.  I had one or two more pushes with Justin in the room and delivered her head. Her cord was wrapped around her neck and she was blue, so on the next contraction they told me to just breathe and not push as they were cutting the cord around her neck.  I said, “Is she ok?” because she was quiet and blue and Justin said, “She’s ok,” and then they got the cord off and she breathed and cried and she turned pink. I pushed the rest of her body out and she was here. Birth time was 4:10 PM.

They put Adelyn straight onto my chest, she had her first feed and pooped all over me.  The afterbirth and delivery of placenta was really painful this time around and it took a long time for them to get all the clots out.  After they got everything cleaned up they assessed the situation and reported I didn’t tear.

I felt so different than I had after my previous two births.  Rather than feeling like a truck hit me, I felt tired but also energized, kind of like how you feel after a hard workout.  Justin asked me pretty shortly after if I could have another delivery like Cameron’s (which had been very long but never extremely painful) or Adelyn’s (intense but really quick) and with the pain fresh in my mind I said probably Cameron’s.  But after about an hour or two I had already changed my mind and said I’ll take the short one again for sure because of how much less exhausted I felt after!

Unfortunately, because the nurses never administered IV antibiotics to me during the labor (which the doctor was upset about and I overheard her frustratingly questioning the nurses about it after the delivery) they explained that Adelyn would have to receive a course of antibiotics directly as a preventative precaution.  They’d need to insert an IV port into her tiny hand and we’d need to stay at the hospital for 3-7 days while she received the antibiotics and they monitored her for signs of infection. The delivery nurses tried unsuccessfully to insert the IV, then took Adelyn to the NICU to have the nurses there do it. Finally, around 10 PM they transferred us to our private room and Justin went home.

We ended up having to stay in the hospital for a whole week and it was good in some ways, but mostly unpleasant.  Justin brought James and Cameron to meet their sister on Sunday morning and we got some beautiful photos taken, but after that they did not allow the boys to come into my room at all because they had rules against children under 12 visiting.  I got to see them a few other times during week but had to go out to the public waiting room to do so. I really missed them!

The nice part was that I got tons of time to rest so I felt my recovery was quicker this time.  The bad part was there was no wifi, no hot water and I refused to take a cold shower (ugghhh I still can’t believe that happened, I felt so gross but just couldn’t do it) and I really missed my family and the comforts of being home.

One thing that struck me while writing this, after I went back and re-read my previous birth stories, was the lack of emotion in my telling of Adelyn’s birth.  I’m realizing that I did experience her labor and delivery much differently in that way. I viewed it more like a means to an end, something that needed to happen to have my baby in my arms.  I wasn’t fearful before or during the process of birth this time, and even as some unideal circumstances unfolded in being alone for most of the labor and not receiving the IV antibiotics I was supposed to be getting, I wasn’t really upset.  I see now how 5 years of motherhood and 4 years of cross cultural living have squeezed that tendency out of me. Hard things happen regularly (I expect it now) and I can get through them, finding comfort and strength in Christ. That said, I certainly don’t have perfect peace at all times, nor am I immune from struggling.  I actually found the week long hospital stay to be much more trying and I had a complete breakdown on Friday evening after being told on Thursday we could go home the next day, then finding out we weren’t going to be able to after all.

Finally, the following Saturday, one week after Adelyn was born we were allowed to go home.  Best day ever! Adelyn is an absolute joy, the answer to many prayers, and we love having her in our family!

All photos by Anna Kiss Photography.  

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