As Ashlin and Andrew Braddock walked up to Fire Station #2 in Hollister on Sept. 13, 911 dispatcher Valerie Conner was there waiting to embrace them.
Just 11 days earlier, Conner not only had the rare chance to help the local family deliver their baby, but now she also had the opportunity to meet them — along with the emergency responders who showed up on the scene — at a special reunion 11 days after the birth.
The Braddocks, Conner and emergency responders gathered at the fire station and recalled the experience from Sept. 2 when the dispatcher helped Andrew and Ashlin Braddock deliver their baby over the phone.
“Are you Val?” the mother asked excitedly on a patio at the fire station.
“Yes, are you the mom?” Conner responded while hugging Braddock, whose family lives between Hollister and Tres Pinos.
And so, a cheerful gathering began where the family, responders and dispatch center employees recalled that special day that will connect the group, and a newborn baby, forever.
They all recalled their sides of the delivery while exchanging gifts and plenty of smiles.
“It was like three pushes,” Andrew Braddock told Conner. “You heard the whole thing. Obviously, we didn’t know the sex of the baby. It was a surprise for us. I looked at her like, ‘It’s a boy.’ It was a pretty magical moment.”
Conner remembered that moment clearly, too, from her side at the dispatch center in Santa Cruz.
“I said, ‘It’s a boy.’ And everybody in the room started clapping.”
Ashlin Braddock said it meant a lot to meet Conner and the responders.
“Even that evening when the baby was born, we were thinking, do we want to meet all these people and do we want to know their names?” she said. “It was just a feeling of relief when they showed up and when there was someone on the phone that was calm in such a crazy time.”
The mother and father of two children had a chance to ask Conner a few questions of her own this time around.
“Have you ever delivered a baby over the phone?” Ashlin Braddock said.
“No,” Conner replied. “It’s my first baby.”
“You did such a good job,” Conner went on to the couple. “You were so great.”
The father replied: “I was telling her, if you weren’t there, I would’ve freaked out.”
“You were so great,” Conner said. “You were so calm.”
The 34-year veteran of 911 dispatching, who has two adult children of her own, was gleeful throughout the meeting and especially when she had a chance to hold the newborn, Nolan.
“What’s happening?” Conner said to the crying baby while holding him during an interview. “Oh, what’s happening? What’s happening?”
She finally had a chance to talk as the baby calmed a bit.
“It’s such a privilege for me to be able to meet these guys,” Conner said. “I’ve never met anyone on the other side of the phone.”
She explained that she’s done a lot of her dispatching on the law enforcement side.
“Most of the law outcomes are not necessarily great,” Conner said. “So being able to meet these guys and have something so special and positive and not a negative thing, it’s such a good turnout. For them to share their side of the story to me and to meet the baby, Nolan, it’s really been really meaningful to me, really special.”
Andrew Braddock recalled to the group how in the hospital after the birth, he had hoped they could meet Conner.
“It’s just an awesome experience,” he said in an interview during the gathering. “Not many people can say they delivered their own child at their house as a dad. It was just overwhelming to have all the support from the EMS and the paramedics and then Val the dispatcher. They just kept us calm and just took care of us.”