It’s hard to believe that back in the 1970s, Edmond was still a small “country town.” There wasn’t even a doctor who specialized in delivering babies—not until Dr. Daniel Tallerico opened up shop in 1978.
“I was completing my medical training in Oklahoma when I heard about a nice little town north of Oklahoma City that didn’t have an obstetrician. So I graduated and became the first one,” Dr. Tallerico said.
When Dr. Tallerico opened his practice, he officed in downtown Edmond—back when the hospital was located on the second story of the current Othello’s restaurant. Edmond soon welcomed Dr. Michael Glass, and the two men served as the city’s only obstetricians for about 20 years.
Now, Dr. Tallerico is a few weeks into his retirement, after having delivered over 8,000 babies during his 38-year career. “There is no greater calling in the world than delivering babies,” Dr. Tallerico said. “My fate was cast during my third year of medical school when I helped deliver that first baby. I thought it was miraculous.”
The first baby he delivered in Edmond was from a patient who followed him from the university. She named the baby Daniel in his honor. Since then, he’s delivered three generations of babies—the children and grandchildren of his patients. “So, I’ve become a grand-doctor!” Dr. Tallerico said with a laugh.
His patients agree that he is a grand doctor, giving high praise for his down-to-earth care, sprinkled with humor. It’s a kind of humor that can’t always be shared publicly, since the process of conceiving and giving birth is rather private.
As Dr. Tallerico puts it, “Suffice it to say, my business is filled with many joyful, crazy, funny moments that can’t be printed.”
Angie Hesser, a patient of Dr. Tallerico, remembers when her fourth child was born. “We told him if it comes out to be a boy, we’ll name him Daniel. He delivered the baby and said, “You have a Danielle!” The Hessers laughed. After all, it was their fourth girl.
“He’s a good ol’ boy with a good sense of humor, who always wears cowboy boots,” Hesser said. “He’s the kind of guy you can have a cup of coffee with as a friend, but professionally, he takes the absolute best care of you and your baby.” Another patient, Johnna Kirkland Doyle, remembers feeling terrified during pregnancy. Dr. Tallerico eased her fears, using a good dose of humor and practicality.
“We were struggling to schedule our C-section. He said, ‘How about tomorrow morning at 6:30am?’ Of course, I was thinking of all the reasons why I wasn’t ready for that, but he said, ‘Do you want to sit around worrying about it, or do you want to have this baby?’ I had to laugh. It was exactly what I needed to hear,” Doyle said. Many of Dr. Tallerico’s patients became lifelong friends, which he finds so enriching. He frequently runs into patients around town, and he finds it gratifying to be introduced to “strapping young men or young ladies” that he brought into the world.
For every daytime delivery, Dr. Tallerico can share the story about babies who decided to arrive in the middle of the night. His typical work schedule was 7:00am to 5:00pm, then he went home for the evening—until it was time to rush to the hospital for a nighttime delivery.
“I got by on four hours of sleep for most of my career,” Dr. Tallerico admitted. “The adrenaline kept me awake.” Although he and Dr. Glass took turns being on-call at night, Dr. Tallerico tried to cover his own patients, feeling he owed it to them for trusting him to care for them through pregnancy.
“Edmond police came to know me well as I sped from my house. Sometimes they would wave when I flew by,” Dr. Tallerico said with a laugh. At other times, they escorted him.
Denise Griffin remembers the night she went into labor. She was disappointed to hear that Dr. Tallerico was not the on-call doctor that evening. But just in time, he raced in, wearing his cowboy boots.
“He rolled up his sleeves and said, ‘I wasn’t going to miss this one,’” Griffin said. The Griffins were particularly touched by this, because he was with them when they lost their first baby. “A birth can be the happiest time in a couple’s life or the worst,” said Dr. Tallerico. “Unfortunately, a higher power decides differently sometimes, and those moments test all of your skill. Extreme happiness can go to extreme fear in a matter of seconds.”
Hesser remembered when her second child required an emergency Caesarean-section. “I was a wreck, but he was the picture of calm. He was so reassuring that I knew I was in great hands.”
“It’s a demanding job that turned my hair gray early,” Dr. Tallerico said. “I credit my wife, Mary Ellen, for being so supportive. In all those years, we never took a long vacation, because I committed to delivering my patients’ babies.”
Now, a few weeks into his retirement—he’s still in shock that he’s not on-call every moment. He’s looking forward to traveling. Both of his children live out of state. James, a graphic artist, is married to Amanda, and they have three children in Texas. Otto is a sergeant in the Marine Corp. He and his wife Elisse are stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
Dr. Tallerico and his wife plan to continue supporting civic efforts in Edmond. He’s been actively involved with many organizations, including Edmond’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Social Agency Commission. Mary Ellen was a founding member of the Edmond Women’s Club.
On December 27, 2016, Dr. Tallerico delivered his last baby. It was a day of mixed feelings—but because he was assisting with the birth for a good friend, there was more joy than sadness. One thing he will certainly miss from his career is seeing the reaction of new parents upon seeing their baby for the first time.
“It’s so remarkable to see the overwhelming joy and love in their hearts at that moment,” said Dr. Tallerico. “The memories of things that have occurred during my practice bring me great joy. I feel like I’ve made a difference.”
Make that 8,000 differences.