When his pregnant daughter called for a ride, Doug Brown thought he’d have time for a cup of coffee before driving her to the hospital.
Mother Nature proved him wrong.
Tiffany Brown “had three contractions by the time we got to the Alberta Springs Golf Course,” recalled Doug, who ended up delivering his grandson on the side of Hwy 11 at 4:45 a.m. on Jan. 9.
Doug had taken on hospital driving duty because his daughter’s partner, Chris Foster, was still apprenticing as a millwright in Lloydminster when Tiffany went into labour. The young couple believed there would be plenty of time until the birth, since their second child wasn’t due until Jan. 23.
But there wasn’t time.
“This isn’t supposed to happen,” Doug remembers thinking, after his daughter said, “’Dad, I think the head’s coming’…
“I thought: Oh dear god, here we are. This is real life happening here!” Doug recalled.
The outside temperature was -25 C when he pulled off the dark, mostly empty highway. He parked his truck near the entrance to the golf course and called 911.
Although Doug remembers being calm “because I had to be,” he appreciated hearing what to expect from emergency dispatcher Alanna Robertson. “She said get a good hold of him, (the baby’s) going to be really slippery when he comes out,” Doug recalled.
All it took was one push by Tiffany, and Doug was holding his newborn grandson, Owen — who is brother to Patrick, age 20 months.
After the infant started breathing and crying, Doug wrapped him up in his jacket. Robertson told Doug to use one of his shoelaces to tie off the umbilical chord about six inches from the baby’s belly — and then to wait for the ambulance to arrive.
Tiffany and her newborn were taken by paramedics to hospital, where Owen weighed in at seven pounds, three ounces. There were no birth complications.
Ten weeks later, mom and baby are doing so well they wanted to thank Robertson in person for her assistance. Along with Grandpa Doug, the whole Sylvan Lake family met the emergency 911 dispatcher in Red Deer on Saturday to express appreciation.
Doug, who works as a mixer/driver with a local cement firm, said he had tried to talk to Robertson a few hours after the birth, but was told the dispatcher had finished her night shift.
“All of a sudden, you were gone,” he told her.
Robertson said she actually helped deliver five babies by phone since she started dispatching in 2009, but this is the first time she got an in-person thank you. “I got a couple of thank-yous before, but never like this. It’s super cool,” said the dispatcher, who was thrilled to meet the family — especially baby Owen.
“It’s nice to put a face to someone who helped you,” said Tiffany, who doesn’t remember much about what was said that night, but feels she was in good hands.
“My dad was pretty calm, so I was calm. If he wouldn’t have been, I wouldn’t have been.”
Considering Tiffany’s labour with Patrick lasted 10 hours, Foster never expected Owen to come so fast. “I wish I could have been there sooner,” said the young dad, who “thought they were messing with me” when he was first told about the road-side delivery.
Tiffany’s mom, Stacey Brown, also thought her jokester husband was pulling her leg about the baby being born in his truck.
“I thought, yeah, right — until I heard the baby crying.” Stacey said she’s very proud her husband “kept it together” — right up until she asked him several hours later, how he was doing,
“Then I lost it,” admitted Doug. “It’s very close to my heart to be able to deliver my own grandchild. I still can’t believe it happened.”