A Suffolk County police sergeant helped deliver his fifth baby in as many years on Saturday, a feat that has earned him the nickname “the baby whisperer” among colleagues.
Sgt. Jon-Erik Negron, 37, is one of several Suffolk officers who responded to the home of Rebecca Reyes, of Shirley, where she was experiencing contractions Saturday morning.
As a sergeant, Negron attends important scenes but said “active labor” calls often end up being false alarms. Still, he headed to Shirley, along with Officers Conor Diemer, Jadin Rodriguez and Zachary Vormittag.
Reyes said she thought it was a false alarm and her pain was caused by Braxton Hicks contractions, but she quickly phoned her partner when she realized it was the real thing — baby Owen was coming, ready or not.
The officers beat paramedics to the home, and there in Reyes’ living room talked her through breathing exercises. At about 10:25 a.m., within minutes of their arrival, Reyes gave birth to Owen.
“I just want to thank them so much for showing up as soon as they did and being able to help me, because without them, I would’ve given birth to my baby alone," Reyes said.
She and Owen were at Stony Brook University Hospital on Saturday night where they will remain for a few days for monitoring.
“The two officers I was with, they handled it great,” Negron said. “I’ve seen them on calls handle themselves professionally, but this is nothing they’ve ever seen before or had to deal with. … They made her feel comfortable — as comfortable as you can be in your own living room having a baby.”
Although helping deliver a baby with minimal obstetrics knowledge is daunting, Negron credited the medical training he and fellow officers received at the Suffolk County Police Academy for keeping them cool and collected. Plus, he’s had practice, more than any other officer he has encountered in Suffolk, he said.
Negron, who has no children of his own, isn’t sure what makes him a baby magnet, but his streak started in August 2017 when he helped deliver Bryce Pappalardo.
Negron had received a call that Jane Pappalardo, of Mount Sinai, was in active labor in her kitchen. Mike Pappalardo, 43, was horrified to discover that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around Bryce’s neck. Pappalardo said that after he snapped the cord with his hands, Bryce still wasn’t breathing.
“I told my wife I thought the baby was dead,” Pappalardo said as he tearfully recalled the terrifying first minutes of his son’s life. “I grabbed Jon and said, ‘He hasn’t taken a breath yet, what do we do?’”
Negron said he immediately asked for a turkey baster or syringe, and after Pappalardo fished one out of a kitchen drawer, Negron spent at least a minute sucking liquid out of the infant's mouth. Then Pappalardo heard a beautiful sound: Bryce’s first breath.
“If it wasn’t for Jon, I don't know if Bryce would be here,” Pappalardo said. “He’s more than a hero to us, he’s family.”
The couple was so moved by Negron’s lifesaving care that they later asked him to be Bryce’s godfather. Bryce, now 5, “loves his Uncle Jon,” Pappalardo said, adding that Negron attends holidays and birthday parties with their family.
Negron, asked if he believes baby Owen is his last delivery, said: “I’ve always said ‘That’s probably the last one, because this is getting crazy now,’ but at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again.”