Special deliveryAngela Rue walked into the Douglas County Communication Center with flowers in her hand and a grin on her face. She was there to introduce her 10-day-old son to the woman who helped her give birth, dispatcher Amanda Kortuem.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Angela Rue walked into the Douglas County Communication Center with flowers in her hand and a grin on her face. She was there to introduce her 10-day-old son to the woman who helped her give birth, dispatcher Amanda Kortuem.
“You were wonderful; you were,” Rue said as she enveloped Kortuem in a hug. “You were just so calm.”
She pointed to the tiny newborn nestled in the arms of her husband, Matt.
“This is who you helped,” Rue said.
Kortuem was quick to ask a question.
“Can I hold him?” she asked.
Both women have been talking for days about each other and the early morning call that brought them together.
After spending the evening waiting to give birth at a Duluth hospital, the Rues had been sent home. Two hours later, Angela Rue’s water broke and her contractions were continuous. With his wife in too much pain to move, Matt Rue called 911 and Kortuem entered their lives. For nearly 10 minutes, she stayed on the phone as a guiding force.
“How did you stay so calm?” Rue asked. “While my sister was trying to hold my legs together you were like, ‘No.’”
“It was your voice,” added Rue’s sister, Pam Anttila, recalling Kortuem’s words. “’You can harm the baby if you try to stop childbirth.’ I was not going to let her push until I heard that. How did you know what to do?”
Next to the dispatcher’s station are medical protocol cards for emergencies.
“We can walk you through anything that happens,” Kortuem said.
She initially advised Rue not to push, but once the she was in a safe position, Kortuem changed that instruction.
“I want you to lay her on her back in the center of the bed or on the floor and I’m going to tell you how to help deliver the baby if the baby’s coming,” Kortuem told Matt Rue on the 911 call.
“OK,” he said with a nervous laugh. “Hold on.”
As a Gold Cross Ambulance drove to the home Kortuem stayed on speakerphone with the couple and Anttila, asking the family to find various items for the birth.
“I have to know what the shoelace and the pin would have been for,” Anttila said. For tying off the umbilical cord and to tear open the sac surrounding the baby, she was told.
“Were you going to walk us through that too?” Anttila asked.
“A square knot or …?” Matt Rue asked with a chuckle.
By the end of the call, EMTs were entering the bedroom and Kortuem’s job was finished. But she hung up too soon.
“If you could have kept on the call for one more minute,” Anttila said.
“You would have heard his first cry,” her sister finished. Mattson Rue was born in his parents’ bed with the help of Gold Cross EMT Darren Peterson and the guiding voice on the phone.
“It was meant to be,” Anttila said.
They didn’t need the shoelace or the safety pin, but the family did suggest adding an item to the list – something to suction the baby’s mouth out with. They had to grab one from the bedroom where their other children – Ava, 4, and 2-year-old Jayce – slept through the whole thing.
Kortuem, 26, has seven nephews and nieces, but no children of her own. Now, Rue and Anttila added, she’s delivered a baby.
“You did great; you did,” Angela Rue said. “We tear up every time we listen to the tape.”
A copy of the 911 call will rest in Mattson’s baby book, a permanent reminder to his family of the help that’s only a phone call away.
“It was a wonderful experience being part of something that’s so happy and so wonderful,” Kortuem said. “Especially when everything is going good and there are no complications.”
She made this birth extra special, the family said.
“You and the EMTs were the highlight of it all,” Anttila said. “We followed your lead. Whatever you said went.”
Even though he was there for the birth of their other two children, Matt Rue said, he had no idea how to deliver a baby.
“Thank God for 911,” he said.
Angela Rue couldn’t leave Thursday without one last hug for the woman she’d shared so much with.
“They’re fabulous; they do great work,” she said. “Hopefully we don’t have to call you guys again, but I would feel totally comfortable.”
The couple isn’t planning to have any more children. But if they did, they would consider having another home birth.
“I would with Amanda’s help,” Angela Rue said.