Sweaty, cramping and out of breath, Sheera Lowe shuffled slowly into the cafe car of an Amtrak train Saturday afternoon heading to New York. There the 8
Then Lowe noticed one woman, unplugged and reading a book.
Lowe looked at her and said, “I think I’m in labor.”
“Can you please help me?”
About 18 minutes later, the train made an unexpected stop at the Aberdeen, Md., station and Trinity Christina Stokes was born: at 8 pounds, 5 ounces.
Lowe was resting on a bench in the train’s rail car. And Trinity, wrapped in paper towels and sheets of aluminum foil normally meant for hot dogs, was given the good Samaritan’s name for her middle name.
Lowe and emergency responders later said they did not know the passenger’s identity — only that she lives in New York.
“She wouldn’t leave my side in the whole thing,” Lowe recalled Tuesday from her Philadelphia home. “I’m so happy and so grateful she stayed.”
Lowe’s due date was March 4. She said she had experienced a “healthy and easy” pregnancy, so she left her home Feb. 15 with 4-year-old daughter Aaliyah to visit her husband, Michael Stokes, who had started a job as a freight supervisor for FedEx in Kannapolis, N.C.
She had felt fine during her visit and returned home alone Saturday on a New York-bound train. Aaliyah had stayed with Stokes in North Carolina.
At 5:43 p.m., Lowe began to feel contractions and thought that maybe her water had broken.
As the train chugged along, Lowe said she started to feel hot and felt more contractions. That was when she tried to walk to the cafe car.
Once there, few passengers seemed to notice she was in labor.
As Lowe rested in the cafe car, an Amtrak employee eventually cleared other passengers from the area, except for Christina and a few employees.
Lowe said the conductor at one point came into the cafe car and told her he had requested that medical personnel meet the train at Aberdeen.
“He told me we were 10 minutes away from Aberdeen, could I make it,” Lowe said.
“No,” Lowe said she told him. “You don’t understand. This baby is coming.”
Just as the train pulled into Aberdeen, two police officers and an EMT jumped on.
One of them said Lowe needed a stretcher, but she replied that she could not move because the pain was too great. The EMT then yelled, “She’s crowning,” Lowe said.
“I started screaming and pushing,” she said. “Just three pushes, and Trinity was out.”
At 6:01 p.m., Trinity was born.
Those around started chanting, “It’s a girl. It’s a girl.”
Retelling the story Tuesday, Lowe laughed at the experience as her baby cried in the background. She said her sister had joked that she should hurry back to Philadelphia so that the baby would not be born on a train.
“I guess she was right,” Lowe said.
An Amtrak employee called Lowe’s sister and husband to let them know she and Trinity were doing fine. They were taken to a Baltimore-area hospital, where a police officer who had gotten on the train earlier had come to visit.
Lowe said Trinity’s birth — even if it was early and unexpectedly on a train — was a blessing.
She said she was grateful that she had left Aaliyah in North Carolina with her dad so that she was not on the train.
“Usually she doesn’t leave my side, but she had stayed with her dad this time,” Lowe said.
She said Aaliyah had been asking when her little sister would arrive, Lowe chuckled.
Lowe said she was worried about the reaction of other passengers after the unscheduled stop, but when she left the train at Aberdeen, they were standing outside smiling, clapping and congratulating her.
“Everybody was so supportive,” she said. “They were really sweet to me. It really brought a lot of happiness to my family.”