Philadelphia resident Sheera Lowe, who has been helping to care for her invalid mother and whose husband has been struggling to find full-time work, got some much-needed joy last Saturday when she unexpectedly gave birth to a healthy baby girl on an Amtrak passenger train after it made an emergency stop in Aberdeen.
"This has been a really crazy, amazing experience," she said by phone Tuesday. "Never did I believe in a million years this would happen to me."
Lowe, 26, was riding the train back to Philadelphia from Kannapolis, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte. Her 28-year-old husband, Michael Stokes, moved to North Carolina in order to find full-time work after his 2013 discharge from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He currently works part time for FedEx.
Lowe and their 4-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, are preparing to move south to be with him. Stokes was a combat engineer with the Guard, and he was deployed to Afghanistan for one year.
"I've definitely tried to be strong and supported him throughout everything, and [we're] doing the best that we can," said Lowe, who kept her maiden name when she and Stokes were married eight years ago.
Lowe was not expecting to go into labor Saturday, as the baby was not due until March 4, but she started experiencing cramps and discovered her water had broken as the train neared Baltimore.
She went to the cafe car and got some ice, where she told a woman named "Christina" and the conductors that she suspected she was going into labor. She declined an offer to call EMS workers, as she thought she could make it until she returned home.
"Not even a minute after they pulled off from Baltimore, the contractions and everything got so bad I barely could move," Lowe recalled.
She went to a bathroom and discovered the baby was starting to come out.
"I started screaming and crying," Lowe said. "I said, 'Please get the EMTs; I cannot have this baby on this train!'"
The conductor urged her to wait until they arrived at the Aberdeen station, which at that time was 10 minutes away.
Aberdeen Police officers Robert Gibbons and Daniel Testerman arrived at the East Bel Air Avenue Amtrak and MARC station at 5:43 p.m., according to an APD news release issued Tuesday morning.
The officers met Aberdeen Fire Department paramedic Keith Williams and EMT Judy Hinch, and they prepared to help with an "emergency delivery," according to the news release.
"Three pushes, and the baby was out into the world," Lowe said.
Trinity Christina Stokes was born at 6:01 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces.
Trinity's middle name came from the passenger who helped her mother. Lowe said she only knows the woman's first name and that she was from New York.
Lowe was taken by ambulance to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where she stayed until Monday afternoon.
Gibbons, a father of two, was so touched by the birth of baby Trinity, he also visited the mother and newborn daughter in the hospital, according to the news release.
Lowe said she lives with her mother, who is 45 years old and has been bedridden after she suffered a stroke in September of 2015.
"She was so happy to see [Trinity]," Lowe said. "It definitely helped my whole family that she's been born; they've been waiting for me to have the baby forever."
Lowe said Trinity's arrival has "definitely brightened" her mother's spirits.
"I'm really happy because our family has been trying to be strong, because my mom, she's so independent, and we just try to keep hope and happiness and positivity," Lowe said. "It just really goes to show that good things can happen out of bad circumstances."