Medical student dad makes a special delivery

Fourth-year UT Southwestern Medical School medical student Nicholas Spendlove celebrated his son’s first birthday last week, hosting a party for family and friends in the same apartment where he unexpectedly delivered Ethan last October.

Nicholas’ wife, Jessica, recalled that she quickly went from contractions that were 10 minutes apart to broken water and the baby crowning at 4 a.m. Fortunately, Nicholas had completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship that included a labor-and-delivery rotation, so he knew that delivery was imminent. Older siblings Bryan and Audra, now 4 and 2, respectively, were home at the time.

“When Jessica went into labor, we didn’t have the ability to administer an epidural, as she had with her first two deliveries. The kids heard Mom in pain, so they were naturally scared,” he recounted. “I got Bryan, and I pulled him in close and told him I needed to go in the other room to help Mommy, and I needed him to take care of Audra. And he stepped up, big time. That made everything go more smoothly.”

Nicholas felt fortunate it was a relatively quick and easy delivery, and credited his exceptional training in the UTSW clerkship and rotation for arming him with skills to assist in the delivery.

Jessica Spendlove with Ethan.

“It was all pretty surreal,” he said. “It seemed like everything slowed down, but I don’t think it took more than four or five minutes from when I closed the bedroom door, got Jessica down on the floor and saw that Ethan was crowning.

“And, yeah, I really felt all alone. But then I thought, ‘You’re the only one here who’s qualified’ – and I put qualified in quotes – so I went through the steps of training in my head. No surgical gloves. I still had on my wedding ring and watch. I’m not sorry it happened the way it did, but I hope it never does again.”

His wife concurred, adding that she is thankful that there were no major issues.

“It was definitely exciting,” Jessica said, “because we never thought anything like that might happen. Luckily, Ethan was born with no complications. When they got us to William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital – after a four-minute ambulance ride – the staff checked him out and assured us he was perfectly fine. He weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and 21 inches long.”

The couple, both graduates of Brigham Young University and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met in St. Louis on a Mormon mission. They connected and began to date after returning to school. Nicholas credits his deep faith for helping him focus on the task at hand: “As Jessica and I began the delivery, I said a prayer and I suddenly felt very calm, at peace, as if there was someone right there with me, at my shoulder. I know that God was there.

“I’m humbled by that, and by the courage of my wife, and by the training that I have received at UT Southwestern Medical Center that guided me through this.”

Nicholas has applied for residency in Ophthalmology, not for Obstetrics and Gynecology.

What? No more babies to deliver?

“I think I’m good,” he said.

This article was originally published on Sept. 22, 2017.