A homeless woman who gave birth in Golden Gate Park overnight said she was caught by surprise because she did not know she was pregnant, but is now looking for a better home for her family.
Malina Berman, 33, called the birth of her daughter in a small tarp-covered shelter behind the park's Rose Garden "one of the most miraculous things I ever experienced."
She was being treated for a respiratory infection Monday night at California Pacific Medical Center.
Berman's boyfriend, Jack Stroube, said the new mother is relieved and happy to have a baby girl. He said they have been camping in Golden Gate Park for seven months.
Stroube said Berman is mentally ill with bipolar disorder and tends to avoid doctors.
"Does not trust doctors whatsoever but has been on antibiotics since she came in," he said. "No problem, the baby is on antibiotics; it looks like its gonna work out."
Berman said she had not believed she was pregnant, although her partner of the past seven months, who is not the child's father, suspected it and tried to convince her.
"I was just in denial, I would not believe it," Berman said, saying she thought she was simply gaining weight and suffering digestive issues.
Berman said that when she gave birth she did not have a cellphone with a charged battery in the shelter, so her partner ran to get a taxi or call for an ambulance. She wrapped the baby in a hooded shirt to keep her warm while she waited.
Fire officials Monday said they received a cellphone call around 4 a.m. reporting the birth, and transported the mother and child to California Pacific Medical Center on California Street in what they described as fair condition.
Berman described her daughter, who she has named Hillary, as "so beautiful."
"It was phenomenal," she said. "I was totally in shock, but it was also one of the most miraculous things I ever experienced."
Berman said she and her partner had planned to camp and work for a homeless gardening program in Santa Cruz for the winter but are now trying to find housing for their new family and figure out what to do next.
Stroube said doctors have told Berman she will be placed in housing when she is released from the hospital.
While it appears Berman had someone with her to call for help, fire department spokesman Jonathan Baxter earlier Monday noted that the incident highlighted the need for members of the public to call 311 if they see someone in need of services or 911 if they think it could be an emergency.
"We're asking members of the public that if they see something, say something," Baxter said.