Eight months pregnant and on a city bus trying to get home, Michelle Agyei started to feel uncomfortable.
As pain kicked in, she tried to hide it, wondering if anyone could tell she was in excruciating pain.
But the look on her face must have belied her efforts. A man on the bus asked if she was all right.
“I said ‘No, I’m not OK’ and the pain was too much.’ ”
Then her water broke.
A woman on the bus called her mother, who was a midwife, to get some advice. A man who had no experience delivering babies came from the back of the bus to help. The driver called 911.
But the baby would not wait.
A few minutes later, her son, Andre, was born on the floor of the bus with a group of strangers helping as they rode through a neighborhood near the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus on Tuesday afternoon.
“I was scared,” Agyei recounted in a phone interview Wednesday evening from her St. Paul hospital bed. “I thought I was going to die. I didn’t want to die. We were all scared. We didn’t know what to do.”
Jane Mulcahy, who was seated right across from the action, said the man who came from the back of the bus laid her on the floor while another woman jumped in to help.
“He just had to catch this baby,” said Mulcahy, whose shoelace was used to tie the umbilical cord. “It was very impressive of him to do this. He was amazing.”
Mulcahy boarded the bus at the Rosedale station around 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday after watching a movie at the AMC theater. The mother-to-be got on at the same stop and took a seat across the aisle from Mulcahy.
Agyei had gone to the hospital with contractions days before, but she was sent home. Her baby was due on Sept. 8 — it was still early, she thought.
Agyei, who has a 3-year-old son, felt normal and returned to work her Tuesday morning shift at a manufacturing plant in St. Paul. She would normally take a taxi home, but her phone was dead and she didn’t have any phone numbers memorized. She got on the bus not knowing if it was the right one.
“Something was telling me to get off the bus and go back, but I decided not to do that and stayed on the bus,” Agyei said.
A few minutes into the ride, Mulcahy said she also noticed the woman was in pain. A man asked the woman if she was having contractions.
Passengers alerted the bus driver, who pulled over near Cleveland Avenue at Carter Avenue near the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. A man seated nearby assisted with the delivery.
“I didn’t know it could happen so fast,” Mulcahy said. “I was freaking out. It was surreal.”
Any fears were relieved when passengers heard the baby crying.
Then paramedics arrived and whisked the mother and newborn to a hospital.
The six passengers onboard got off and waited for the next Route 87, which runs from Rosedale to the Highland Park neighborhood in St. Paul.
As new riders came on board, the driver was all too willing to share why the bus was late, Mulcahy said.
“A woman gave birth on the last bus,” he told them.
Agyei said Wednesday evening: “We’re OK. … I really thank everyone in that bus. Especially that man who helped. Without them, I didn’t know what to do.”