The Birth Story of London Sophia Spruill
June 14, 2013 at 3:09 PM
8 pounds, 2 ounces ~ 20.25 inches
Those present: Mommy, Daddy, Certified Nurse Midwife, Kellie Moeller, Debs Walker, and Randi Laws
Based on the date of my last menstrual period, I was due with my first baby on Saturday, June 8th, 2013. When my husband Devin and I originally discussed having a baby, I had assumed that I would simply be added to his company health insurance plan and have a traditional hospital birth. However, when we learned how very expensive it was to add a spouse to his high-deductible plan, we started to explore our options such as skipping the expensive medical insurance and opting for cash payment. I started calling hospitals and OB/GYN’s, trying often unsuccessfully to get a cost estimate, and because it was so tough to get answers over the phone, I finally started visiting hospitals and requesting the info in person. The problem is that there are so many variables and the bill would likely be much higher than anyone could estimate in advance. It was around this time that a friend suggested I look into seeing a midwife, and somehow Devin and I discovered a documentary called The Business of Being Born. Once we saw this film, we were convinced—the traditional hospital birth was not for us. I was in a Bible Study with several beautiful young mothers, a few who had shared their own personal birth stories, and I knew that if a physician advised me to have an “emergency C-section” to ensure the health of my baby, I could not go against this advice despite any plan for a natural birth. Based on what I had learned from that film, I knew that I wanted a birth that was in the best interest of me and our baby, and not what was most convenient for the doctor.
There were two specific concepts that stuck out to me from The Business of Being Born documentary: first, women giving birth in primal or rural settings do not give birth lying down in a bed, but rather they often do so squatting or on all fours and second, the cycle of medical interventions including induction and pain medications often lead to unplanned C-sections. Devin and I toured a birthing center and originally agreed to welcome our baby there, but after talking to a friend who had a successful home birth, we were introduced to Kellie Moeller, with Home Birth Experience and we decided to give birth in the privacy and comfort of our own home! We officially started seeing Kellie for our prenatal care, and we were blessed with a healthy and rather pleasant pregnancy. I give God all of the glory for this—we prayed for our baby and for a healthy, smooth and successful home birth in God’s perfect timing and that is exactly what we experienced! In fact, I felt our baby move for the first time at church on Christmas Eve—it felt like popcorn popping in my belly!
In February, we finally got to have our second and final sonogram where we would hopefully learn the gender of our baby—I would have been excited either way, but since Devin already has a wonderful 10 year old son, I knew that he had his heart set on a baby girl. The sonographer took her time but we finally learned after about an hour that we were in fact expecting a girl! Devin’s reaction was to cancel our gym plans and immediately head to the store to pick out her first couple of outfits—we were so excited and we knew that she was London Sophia Spruill and we would be meeting her soon! I had a couple of dreams of a baby girl prior to learning the sex, so it turns out a mother’s instinct is as strong as they say!
Speaking of the gym, I continued to work out throughout the entire pregnancy. I wanted to be physically prepared for a natural homebirth. Working out minimized my aches and pains. I believe that God designed women to give birth and we do tend to live a rather natural lifestyle, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have some fears about giving birth—would I tear?; would my labor progress?; would I be ugly to my husband as a result of the pain? I was more afraid of having something go wrong that would lead me to the hospital than I was of the actual labor pains, but they were on my mind as well. I focused on staying healthy—from healthy meals to working out and also on my own businesses—GRACE and Beautycounter and freelance writing, which helped to remain as patient as possible as we waited for London Sophia to arrive.
After a couple of weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions, on Thursday, June 13th, 2013, and 5 days after my official due date, I had an especially productive day. I cleaned out the refrigerator, prepared a bunch of meals, hung a dozen or so pictures in the office, ran a few errands and worked on the nursery—in retrospect, I was nesting. Prior to this week, I had tried all of the natural induction methods, from making love to spicy foods to tropical fruits to daily treadmill walks, evening primrose oil and red raspberry tea. My midwife kept telling us that if London wasn’t ready, this would prepare my cervix for labor but it wouldn’t make it start. I trusted that London would arrive when she was ready developmentally, but I secretly feared giving birth to a large baby! I just so happened to have our favorite dish that evening—Eggplant Parmesan and we went to bed soon thereafter. Around 3:45 am, I woke up to use the bathroom and I discovered that I was spotting—I knew at this point that we’d be meeting London soon! Within 15 minutes, I started feeling period-like cramps that made me squirm in bed, but I was able to sleep around them.
Around 7 am on Friday June 14th, I woke up to make Devin his Green Smoothie and see him off to work. A few times that morning I had to drop to the floor until a contraction passed. I added a contraction timing app on my phone and discovered that they were lasting 30-60 seconds and were about 5 minutes apart. By the time Devin made it from The Woodlands to Houston, I decided to ask him to turn around and head back as the contractions were seeming to be closer together and more intense. I couldn’t focus on TV or on talking to my mom on the phone or on anything else. Around 10:30 am, both Devin and our Doula friend from church, Debs, arrived just as my contractions were getting quite close and uncomfortable. Devin’s cologne was distracting me so he was kind enough to take off his work clothes and Debs kept me focused on breathing deeply in through my nose and out through my mouth from my diaphragm until Kellie the midwife arrived. When Kellie did arrive, it was probably around noon and she monitored the baby’s heart rate through several contractions. After deciding that London was doing well, Kellie left to visit a newborn baby nearby. I was so thankful that Debs was there because the labor was progressing quickly to me. Devin prepared our bed with plastic and an old sheet set—it looked perfect. Debs helped me to explore several positions, from laboring on my sides (which I did not like at all), to on a ball leaned up against her to laboring on the toilet to all fours on the bed using the ball to move London into the birthing canal.
I actually found the most relief laboring on the toilet and at some point, in the early afternoon, I felt and heard my water break. I still had no idea how much I was dilated, and just after this my friend Randi, who is in nursing school, arrived. She helped by offering me water as it’s important to stay hydrated. Sweet Devin made me some toast but I couldn’t get myself to eat it—I was hungry but just could not focus on food. I tried a Lara Bar but it smelled horrible to me while in labor. I sipped on Red Raspberry Tea as well which is supposed to speed up labor. At some point, probably around 2:00, Debs suggested that I move to our bathtub, where I planned to give birth. I had been in the tub earlier but it seemed to slow down my contractions so I had returned to the toilet. Someone had called Kellie, the midwife, who decided to return after hearing my primal laboring sounds. While in the tub for the second time, I did feel a great deal of pressure and felt the urge to push, but I was afraid of tearing if I pushed too early. I remember at one point getting irritated that our midwife hadn’t made it back yet, because I suspected that she may miss the birth. I think I held back until she made it.
When Kellie arrived, she put on gloves to examine how far along I was and to see if the baby was crowning—she was within minutes and I discovered why they call this the “ring of fire”—the sensation did burn and I remember saying, “Come on London—help your Mommy!” Overall, the burning part was brief. I remember asking the midwife, “How long can this pushing part last?” and she responded with an amused look as if she didn’t have a crystal ball, but she said “Up to an hour”… I was crushed! It felt like she was so close—sure enough, soon thereafter, someone held a mirror revealing our daughter’s hair, and that is when I felt very confident in pushing. I looked at Devin and told him I love him—I was so afraid that I would be mean in labor but I was overcome with love for him at that point. Kellie invited Devin into the bathroom to “catch” London, and she guided him on how to do so. Once her head was in his hands, I remember telling London to “swim out!” It seemed like seconds later at 3:09 pm, Devin was lifting our baby out of the water and placing her on my chest. We both had tears in our eyes and were overcome with love—we did it!
The pain was instantly gone. I was in a state of shock—I was now a mommy and I was holding our baby. She was perfect…blue at first, then instantly crying and I just remember thanking God that she was seemingly healthy and perfect. God had answered all of our prayers for a home water birth of a healthy baby girl. How could we be so blessed? Devin and I both teared up and Debs kept telling me how I had done so well. I felt like Superwoman, full of adrenaline, but honestly, at no point did I feel like I couldn’t handle the pain or that I would prefer to be in the hospital with medication. Instinctively, just as the books suggest, London was searching for my breast, and was breastfeeding while we were still in the tub. Shortly thereafter, we were helped to our bed, wrapped in warm towels and blankets and still with the umbilical cord intact. London stayed on my chest, skin to skin, for at least a couple of hours, as she and I both ate. I felt like I had never eaten or drank in my life—I inhaled whatever they put in front of me! Finally, after a few hours, Devin and Kellie took London to the scale to discover that she was 8 pounds and 2 ounces—she looked SO tiny! I could not believe that I had delivered an 8 pound baby in our bathtub—and it really was tolerable! London and I took an herbal bath to promote healing, and it was amazing to see her become still and alert in the water—like she was back at home after 10 months of floating in my belly. Soon we were back in bed and she was eating once again.
Devin and I could not be any more grateful and elated about our decision to have a home birth. One of my first thoughts after London was born was that I could do this again! I’ve heard that God allows us to forget the pain of childbirth, but it really was such a brief moment that the pain was most intense—it just would not have been worth it for me to have had an epidural for that brief moment, especially when an epidural could have led to further interventions or adverse effects. I am extremely thankful for my husband and I think that we have a renewed sense of intimacy and respect for each other after this amazing experience. It made me happy to hear him call me his hero—I really have never felt so accomplished or worthy of respect. We plan on making the most of every single day with our growing family.
***I must add this, if you have been thinking about a home birth, or not, Devin and I really encourage you to explore the option! It was amazing–every single part of the process: from never waiting in a doctor’s office for a prenatal visit, to welcoming our baby in the comfort and privacy of our own home, to the freedom to eat and drink as I wished throughout labor, to the 24/7 support that I always had from our midwife, to the clinical ability of our midwife in the event that anything had not gone as planned, to the never having to drive to a hospital or sit in a waiting room or have a medical intervention pushed that I had been wanting to avoid. London and I, at the urging of our midwife, spent the first week or more in bed, only getting up to use the restroom, and thanks to my husband, this was made possible. That allowed me to heal beautifully and bond with our daughter as we both learned breastfeeding–we are still learning! I encourage you to trust your body, trust the One who created you as He designed you to bring babies into this world long before the invention of the epidural or Pitocin. Prior to our insurance issues, we hadn’t been educated on home birth but throughout the world, this is the standard method of birthing babies. It is gentle and dignified and I’ve never felt stronger and more capable in my life.