BELTON, Texas — The Lears had a plan. The plan involved a birthing center, a mid-wife, birthing affirmations to help combat the fear and pain often associated with birth, and after-delivery care for a mother and her newborn. When winter storms Uri and Viola hit back-to-back across the state of Texas, however, those plans changed.
That’s how on the evening of Feb. 15, Sabrina Lear came to find herself holding her newborn son while lying on her bathroom floor seconds after delivering him, assisted only by her husband, Capt. Quinn Lear, a dentist and the officer-in-charge of Dental Clinic #3 on Fort Hood. Stuck in their home in Belton, due to extreme cold temperatures and ice-covered roads, Sabrina and Quinn delivered their son by themselves.
While her original “guess date” for her son’s birth was Feb. 19, Sabrina had no expectations of going into labor during an unprecedented winter storm. Her birth plan was part of a process called hypnobirthing, which is a form of pregnancy and birthing that involves self-hypnosis in order to help relax the mother and prepare for labor and delivery through visualization and deep relaxation techniques.
“It’s all about how birthing is natural and normal,” Sabrina said. “It’s all about positivity, like listening to positive affirmations every day, having positive acclimations around the house, and preparing weeks ahead of time with these affirmations.”
When the time came to go into labor, the Lears expectations were to drive to a close-by birthing center, which is a homier, low-tech birthing option to help moms who desire a more natural childbirth experience. With the help of midwives, mothers are encouraged to have their child in whatever way feels most natural to them, whether that be with or without medication; lying in bed or crouched down on all fours; or even in a birthing bathtub. Birthing centers also offer a chance for the whole family to be a part of the birthing process, unlike most hospitals; and generally recovery time is shorter.
However, once the roads became dangerously icy, and temperatures dropped to hypothermia levels, the Lears knew that any travel outside of their home was implausible. On top of the outdoor conditions, the Lears had a 2-year old sleeping in her room, and Sabrina was dealing with a sinus infection. All of these were factors in what lead to an extremely-memorable birth.
Around 8:30 p.m. on the 15th, while watching television with Quinn, Sabrina started to feel cramping, or “waves” as they are known in hypnobirthing, that she quickly realized were labor contractions. Having given birth previously using the same method, she knew what her body was preparing her for.
After speaking on the phone with her midwife, who was unable to travel to the Lears home due to the road conditions, Sabrina simply told her husband, “I’m not going anywhere tonight; prep if you want to.”
“I started researching home birth,” Quinn said with a chuckle. “I was Googling how to give birth at home.”
Thankful that they hadn’t lost power or water, Sabrina laid in her bed with her headphones on, listening to birthing affirmations. Within an hour, she realized her water had broken. The Lears quickly shifted to the bathroom and realized that the baby wasn’t going to wait any longer. Crouched down on the bathroom floor, Quinn, who not only has medical experience from training as a dentist, but also grew up helping his father at large-animal veterinarian clinics assisting animals in the delivery process, knew the essentials and saw that his baby was crowning. After conducting a check, he was able to quickly see that the umbilical cord was wrapped round the baby’s neck.
“(Quinn) was so calm”, Sabrina said. “He softly told me that the cord was wrapped around his head and that I might want to push, and I was like, ‘OK.’”
After a single push, at precisely 10:48 p.m., Rowan Cordero Lear was born. Quinn immediately took steps to help his baby begin to breath, by sucking out his nose, patting his back and rubbing his chest, and within seconds, their son began to cry. Quinn laid his son on his wife’s chest, and they both took a minute to breath.
“That’s when I grabbed the phone and called the midwife,” Sabrina said. “I told her, ‘We have a new baby,’ and you could tell she was shocked. She was expecting a phone call that my labor had been progressing, and instead was told, ‘No, we did the work for you.’”
The midwife immediately video-called Sabrina and Quinn and walked them both through the afterbirth process. When it came time to cut the cord, the midwife suggested a shoelace or scissors, but Dr. Lear had the perfect option: sterilized dental floss.
“We were incredibly lucky,” Quinn said. “We had power and water and heat, and we had no issues with the birth. We feel very blessed.”
The next morning, their daughter, Leona, came into the bedroom and was surprised with a new baby brother. “She was so excited,” Sabrina recalled. “She was definitely, like cautious, but the first thing she said was ‘Baby’s out!’”
Sabrina and Quinn feel very lucky to not only have had the essentials while many around them had suffered power and water loss, but also due to their neighborhood in general.
“Our neighbors have been amazing,” Sabrina said. “I posted our story in our neighborhood (Facebook) group and we had such an outpouring of support. Our neighbors brought us dinner …and some people brought us wine and chocolate. They are all really sweet.”
Little Baby Rowan will have his first checkup this week, but due to the quick thinking of both Sabrina and Quinn, the Lears can now relax knowing that they were able to safely deliver their newborn son at home, and they will have a story to tell for years to come.