This little girl just couldn't wait

Jerrod and Rebekah Daigle welcomed Janessa Jean Daigle one week and eight miles earlier than expected -- on an Interstate 35 off-ramp in Proctor, to be exact.

Rebekah Daigle and Baby Janessa
Rebekah Daigle of Cloquet holds 2-week-old Janessa, who was born last month. (Jana Peterson /

Jerrod and Rebekah Daigle welcomed Janessa Jean Daigle one week and eight miles earlier than expected -- on an Interstate 35 off-ramp in Proctor, to be exact.

The healthy baby girl was born at 8:01 a.m. Feb. 11 in the back of a Cloquet Area Fire District ambulance.

It was an adventure for baby, mother and paramedics Brandon Rautell and Pete Erickson.

"Neither of us had delivered a baby before," Erickson said. "I kept telling Rebekah, 'Don't worry, you're not going to have a baby in the back of the ambulance. We'll make it.' "

When she awoke with pain that Tuesday morning, Rebekah said she initially thought she simply had a stomachache.


Pretty soon, though, she realized that her stomach pains actually were contractions. Jerrod already had left for work, and Rebekah and 2-year-old Keagan were all alone at home.

She called 911 and her husband. The ambulance got there first -- but barely.

"The contractions were coming really fast," she said, explaining that the paramedics timed them at two minutes apart when they got to the home north of Cloquet.

"When I was here by myself, I was really scared, but once I was in the ambulance, the paramedics were really helpful and comforting, so I was less scared," Rebekah said. "I felt like I was in good hands."

Because she was a patient at Essentia Health in Duluth, the ambulance headed to Duluth with Rebekah in labor. Dad and Keagan were not far behind.

"We didn't make it," Rebekah said, laughing again. "The contractions kept getting quicker, and then I could tell she was ready. Everything went real good."

When they realized Janessa wasn't going to wait, Rautell pulled off at the Proctor off-ramp and jumped in the back to assist Erickson with the delivery. Baby Janessa made her grand entrance into the world, and they got back on the highway to the hospital. There were no complications.

"You were in a hurry," she said to her adoring infant.


In the meantime, Jerrod was driving to the hospital and saw the ambulance pull off the highway.

"By the time he got there, we were leaving already," Rebekah said. "We weren't on the off-ramp very long."

It was another shared experience for Erickson and Rautell, who went to paramedic school and firefighting school together and were hired one day apart 6½ years ago.

Erickson said it was an amazing experience and one that not a lot of paramedics share, especially in this part of the Northland where hospitals aren't too far away.

"It was something I never actually thought I'd do -- deliver a baby," he said, commenting on how delicate Janessa was when she was born. "I have three children, and my wife is pregnant with our fourth; I've been present at all their births but I'd never delivered a baby. It's a once-in-a-career kind of thing."

Janessa weight in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Mom and daughter spent one night in the hospital before heading back to Cloquet.

Maybe they will bump into their paramedic friends sometime.

"I will always remember this," Erickson said. "And I've seen Rebekah and her husband around town, so I might even get to see this baby grow up. That would be cool."

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