She wasn’t sure whether the faint cries had come from a doll or a real-life baby.

The woman, Paula Andrews, had heard the muffled sounds as soon as she threw a bag of garbage into a massive trash compactor at the apartment complex in Everett, Wash., where she works as a maintenance supervisor.

By the time she made the decision to go inside the trash compactor and begin digging, there was no getting out until she had an answer.

“She must have gone through about 2½ feet of garbage — probably about 20 garbage bags — and discovers this brand new, newborn child there,” her boyfriend, Jeff Meyers, told NBC affiliate KING. “She kind of jumped out of the garbage compactor, went to her knees crying and said, ‘I can’t believe it’s a real baby. I can’t believe somebody had done this.'”

Meyers told CBS affiliate KUTV that things could have turned out much differently.

“I mean, thank God Paula didn’t hit that button; I mean, had that baby not cried one second before she hit that button, we’d be out here for a much worse story,” he said, noting that the child was covered in blood and still had its umbilical cord attached.

“Someone had the baby and just discarded it into the garbage,” Meyers said. “It’s the saddest and sickest thing I’ve seen in my entire life.”

Officers arrived at the scene moments later and removed the baby from the dumpster, according to police. The baby, a boy, was rushed to a hospital on Friday night. The infant remains in stable condition and police are investigating the incident — collecting evidence and interviewing possible witnesses.

“There is no indication when or why the newborn was left in the dumpster,” Officer Aaron Snell, a public information officer with the Everett Police Department, told The Washington Post. “We are still asking the public to help us by providing any information they have.”

Snell said investigators plan to submit evidence to the Washington State Patrol’s crime laboratory in an effort to match the child’s DNA samples to his mother.

“If someone has been entered into the system, a match could potentially come up,” he said.

Assistant Fire Chief Rick Robinson told KING that he is also worried about the mother’s welfare, fearing that she may need medical attention. It’s even more of a concern, officials said, considering that the incident occurred in a state that offers new mothers another option.

In Washington state, a safe haven law gives new mothers 72 hours to leave a newborn baby at a fire station or emergency room with no questions asked — and no charges filed.

Robinson told KING that firefighters ask mothers who plan to turn over their infants to fill out a questionnaire about health and family history. However, he noted, the questionnaire is optional and mothers can decline to identify themselves to rescuers.

“When survival’s at stake, we just act,” Robinson told the station.

Regardless of where the baby came from, Meyers said he considers the infant’s arrival a thing of beauty.

“We feel it’s a miracle,” he told KING. “It happened on Good Friday. I get emotional. I get emotional when I talk about it.”

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