CHAPEL HILL — What started as a short trip across town for a Carrboro woman has captured the attention of millions.
Elizabeth Aguilar Lopez, 27, and her baby girl, Emily, returned home Friday. Emily, who weighs 5 pounds and 9 ounces, was born at a UNC bus stop at 12:13 p.m. Wednesday.
She was named for the “angel” who stopped to help, Aguilar said.
Emily Brewer, a 36-year-old UNC doctoral student from Carrboro, and her 2-year-old son, Dylan, were headed to the bus stop near Abernethy Hall when she spotted Aguilar in distress. Aguilar and her friend spoke very little English, and Brewer doesn’t speak Spanish, but she managed to understand what had happened, she said.
When Aguilar quickly began giving birth, Brewer called 911. The 911 operator talked her through the rest of the delivery, she said.
The whole experience took less than 10 minutes, Brewer said.
Aguilar said Thursday that she was worried when her water broke, but her daughter arrived with very little pain.
She and her husband, Antonio, have been married 10 years and have a 6-year-old son Serguio, she said. Many friends have come to see her, including Brewer, she said.
It was only by chance that Brewer, a student of 19th-century British literature, was on campus Wednesday. She turned her dissertation in Monday and was headed to the library to work, but Dylan’s babysitter missed her appointment, and she took him with her. Along the way, they stopped by the Bell Tower to see the clock and listen to the noon chimes, she said.
Brewer said she thinks it was meant to happen that way, and she did what any mother would do in a similar situation.
She visited Aguilar and the baby Wednesday night at the N.C. Women’s Hospital and felt better to see they were resting peacefully, she said.
Brewer asked the baby’s name, but instead of answering, Aguilar asked Brewer’s name and wrote it down, she said. Brewer said she suggested Amelia, which is the Spanish equivalent, but Aguilar insisted on Emily, she said.
“How do you put that into words? I was so honored,” she said.
Aguilar then asked her to hold the baby, and while she felt bad removing Emily from her warm crib blankets, “I felt radiating love from my heart for this little baby,” Brewer said.
Aguilar took her phone number, and Brewer said she plans to stay in touch. “Once I get her address, I’m going to send that baby birthday gifts every year,” she said.
The story of Emily’s birth, first reported in The News & Observer on Thursday, has gone viral, and Brewer said she has been inundated with interview requests from local and international news agencies, including National Public Radio and The London Times.
Orange County EMS Capt. Dinah Jeffries said in her 29 years with the department, she has only delivered two or three babies over the phone, she said. Most of them make it to the hospital first, she said.
Brewer said she never expected to be thrown into a media storm when she stopped to help.
“I think the story struck a chord. After Hurricane Sandy and the election ... I think people need to have something to believe in right now,” she said.