Chapel Hill, N.C. — Emily Brewer and Elizabeth Aguilera Lopez can barely communicate because of a language barrier, but that didn't stop Brewer from delivering Lopez's baby Wednesday at a Chapel Hill bus stop.
A graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brewer happened to be on Cameron Avenue with her 2-year-old son, Dylan, at about 12:30 p.m. when she saw a pregnant woman in distress at the bus shelter on the corner of Columbia Street. As she approached, she said, it appeared that the woman's water had broken and she was in labor.
Brewer called 911, but the baby wasn't going to wait for the paramedics.
"Oh my God, the baby's here," a frantic Brewer told the dispatcher. "She's had the baby. It's in her pants."
After having her check to see if the baby was breathing and appeared to be OK, the dispatcher told her to clean the baby's mouth and nose.
"I looked around, and we have nothing sterile, not even a tissue," Brewer said Thursday. "I used the mother’s scarf."
Following the dispatcher's directions, she had Lopez lie down on the bus-stop bench so she could rest the baby on her chest.
"He said, 'Now I need you to find a shoelace,'" Brewer said. "I look down and realize I’m wearing Mary Janes. The mother was wearing sandals, and her friend was wearing tennis shoes. So, while the friend is supporting the mother’s pants that are holding the baby, I’m untying shoes to tie up the umbilical cord."
Paramedics arrived minutes later to take Lopez and her 5-pound, 9-ounce newborn daughter to UNC Hospitals.
"It was not the place you’d want to give birth, but it turned out great," Brewer said. "The mother was a hero. She didn’t freak out. She stayed calm, cool and collected."
Brewer later had a tearful reunion with Lopez at the hospital. Even though she speaks little Spanish and Lopez doesn't speak English, she said they had no trouble working together during the delivery.
"We speak Mom, you know, there’s a connection," she said. "Once you’ve given birth to someone and you’ve brought life into this world, you have something in common with every mother on Earth, and at that moment, that’s all there was."
The baby is the second child for Lopez, 28. She said she had no contractions and only felt some pressure during the delivery.
Lopez named the baby Emily to recognize the woman she called her "angel."
"It’s so humbling. By some crazy twist of fate, I’m part of this woman’s birth story," Brewer said.