CARROLLWOOD — In the space of 24 hours over the holiday weekend, two Carrollwood families experienced something far more exciting than any fireworks display: the surprise delivery of a new baby in their homes.
Those two newborns made it three babies in one week who were delivered with assistance over the phone from Hillsborough County emergency dispatchers, said Angela Potenziano, a senior digital communications dispatcher.
The first father involved was David Perez, who thought it was a close call three years ago when his third son was born while the doctor was still scrubbing in.
He now realizes that was nothing.
Perez delivered his fourth child on the living room floor of his home Friday morning "in a panic," he said Saturday from St. Joseph's Hospital, where his wife and son were resting. "I still can't believe it."
Then, early Saturday, it was the Garcia family's turn. Sheila Garcia, also of Carrollwood, woke up her husband about 2 a.m., saying her contractions were close together.
"Let's go to the hospital," he said.
"We don't have time — call 911!" she said.
Two minutes after Dave Garcia called 911, she gave birth to a healthy son.
"Everybody gets excited when a baby is born," said dispatcher Potenziano, who said the volume of calls, beginning with a birth at an office last week, was unusual. "It's good for us. It's much better than bad calls."
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Susana Perez, 28, felt cramps late Thursday night, but dismissed the pain because she wasn't due for three weeks. About 2:30 a.m. Friday, she woke her husband so he could help her into the tub.
He prepared her bathwater and fell back asleep. She called for him when she was done and he groggily wrapped her in a towel.
She asked to lie down in the living room, and sat down. Then she screamed that her water broke.
They debated for a moment about whether it was true, David Perez recalled. Then she really scared him by saying the baby was coming. Now.
"She was screaming, 'Grab him! Grab him!' " Perez said. "I literally pulled him out of the womb. And there he was."
Giovanni Angel Perez was born on the Fourth of July at 5 pounds, 9 ounces and 18 1/2 inches long.
David Perez called 911 and was warned not to tug the placenta. He grabbed a shoelace and tied the umbilical cord.
Susana Perez praised her husband Saturday: "He did fantastic."
About 24 hours later, Sheila Garcia noticed her contractions were close together — even though she wasn't due until July 11. Her first child took about 10 hours to deliver. This one, just minutes.
"It was crazy," Dave Garcia said.
With the help of dispatch operator Hattie Strickland, Taylor Dalton Garcia was born in the couple's bathroom at 8 pounds and 21 inches. Sheila Garcia and her baby were taken to University Community Hospital.
"We're really tired," he said Saturday afternoon. "We've been up since 2, but everything's great. He's totally healthy."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.