About 9 months ago, Letictia Elder Support Services Manager for La Habra Police Department received the happy news that someone from dispatch was having a baby.
She noted it on the work calendar and assumed there would be time to work on a maternity leave schedule.
But that was before the others – three others to be exact.
Suddenly, one pregnancy announcement turned into four and Elder didn’t know how she was going to handle staffing.
“We have nine dispatchers and now nearly half of them are about to go out on maternity leave,” she said with a laugh. “They said they weren’t planning it, but I don’t know what was in the water.”
The soon-to-be moms, Alexandra Castillo, Jennifer Duong, Jennifer Romo-Andrade and Christina Argott spend hours together in a high-pressure environment where keeping their cool and handling unexpected scenarios are a part of the job.
But even they weren’t prepared to discover they were pregnant at the same.
“We call it Baby-gate 2020,” said Argott, who has been with the LHPD for 15 years. “I was the first one to announce it then I heard about Alex and I thought ‘wow, this is awesome’ I get to go through this experience with a good friend of mine. Then it was Jennifer and Jen, and it went to a whole other level. I am so glad to have so much support, especially during COVID, this is an interesting time to be pregnant and working in law enforcement.”
While the moms-to-be and colleagues have found kinship with one another, they have had their share of laughs as word began to spread around the Department about their pregnancies.
“People were really surprised to learn there was four expecting moms in Dispatch… people were avoiding the water (in our office) for a while,” said Jennifer Duong, Communications Supervisor.
Alexandra Castillo, a first-time mom, scheduled to give birth in mid-November agreed.
“The Department has been happy, shocked, scared …” Castillo said. “Maybe all the emotions.”
“Everyone has been excited and supportive of our news,” said Jennifer Romo-Andrade. “They definitely think it’s funny.”
The happy coincidence has also been a great chance for the moms-to-be to have a place where they can compare notes about symptoms, monitor development, share fears and also consider how their jobs have readied them for the highs and lows of motherhood.
Castillo said when it comes to a new baby, there’s no doubt her ability to multitask will come in handy.
“We do a whole lot of multi-tasking, dealing with angry, upset people and we must remain calm & collected in emergency situations,” said Castillo.
Duong, who is pregnant with her second child, said it was with her first pregnancy that she realized her job prepared her for motherhood in ways she didn’t expect.
“Being a dispatcher helped me prepare for the unexpected. Each day is different when you are a dispatcher. Also, the 24 hours, weekends, holidays and on call schedule helped me with my first baby’s unpredictable sleeping schedule,” said Duong. “I was able to adapt more easily to the napping, feeding and sleeping schedule. It also helped me with being calm during the “unknown.”
The La Habra Police Department held a group baby shower for the team on September 29th, Argott was the first to have her baby and the remaining three will follow close behind.
This brings staffing and the challenge of filling their empty seats during the upcoming holiday season.
“We tend to come together during times of need,” said Romo-Andrade. “The pregnancies are definitely going to cause a spike in the overtime during the end of the year which is already a “busy” time for us. But I know they can handle it, when it comes to teamwork, we have always been able to get through tough times together – I trust this time will be no different.”