A gentle wind eased the afternoon heat as Tanya López and Briton Houghtling offered a peek inside their living quarters.
The home made of tarps and plastic tubes sat nestled and hidden not far from Stockton Ballpark. The couple liked their spot in a commercial area off Fremont Street. They had friends among the passing industrial workers.
Someone in a work truck drove by.
"Is he OK? The man that lives there?" the person asked. "I just wanted to make sure he was OK?"
"They all make sure I'm OK," Houghtling said. "We kinda look out for the neighborhood, and they look out for us."
The out-of-the-way location had been enough for López and Houghtling's lives together. Until everything changed.
This spring, their tiny dwelling became more cramped.
A car seat, a bassinet and a small bath tub were laying on top of the couple's sleeping bag. And López and Houghtling started planning for the arrival of their baby girl.
It has been manageable for them to live on the street, but once López gives birth the couple knows a concrete floor is no place to live.
It is tough to imagine a child born homeless, and yet not so unusual in San Joaquín County, where children make up 30 percent of the homeless population of 3,000.
And in Stockton, one in five of the city's estimated 290,000 residents lives below the federal poverty level.
López and Houghtling want to escape those statistics. They do not deny that past choices have led them to their situation.
Each was raised in middle-class homes.
Houghtling, 45, took a different trajectory as an adult. For more than 20 years, he abused alcohol and drugs, and he lived on the streets in San Joaquín County.
López, 34, grew up comfortably in San José. She began rebelling from her mother as a teenager and moved to Manteca with a friend when she was 15. López has found employment through the years, but she admits her personal life has not been stable.
She bounced from one bad relationship to another, López said, and was a victim of domestic violence.
At age 24, she had a son. The father has custody of the now 10-year-old. She had a daughter, now 6, with her last partner, but she lost custody of her.
López's and Houghtling's paths merged in August.
The day they met, she had been walking for miles from north Stockton and had stopped to rest under a tree across the street from Houghtling's tent.
"Are you hungry?" he asked and then walked López one more mile south to St. Mary's Dining Room for a free meal.
Their relationship developed from there. "I told her I'm no good for her. I don't deserve a woman like you," said Houghtling, who was -- and is -- recovering from substance abuse.
But she saw the good in him. "He was unique and non-abusive and very polite," López said. "I noticed he wasn't like anyone else out here."
They lived together in the hut for seven months, not needing much but life's basics -- food, shelter and the clothes on their backs. "Sometimes we would get wet though," López said.
During that period on the street, López learned she was pregnant.
As the child grew inside her womb, sleeping on the ground became harder. "It was just uncomfortable on my hips," López said.
López and Houghtling moved into the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in March, two months before her due date.
There, the meals and clothes donations are certain. They no longer worry about rainfall leaking through the roof -- or summer's rise in temperatures.
It is a safer environment for an expectant mother.
"It's not a house, it's a home," Houghtling said.
López and Houghtling volunteer at the shelter to earn their stay. They serve food at the dining hall.
López also worked in the front office until she went on maternity leave.
Things were going well health-wise.
Three weeks before López's due date, the couple walked from the shelter to a doctor's appointment at Channel Medical Center, a county-run clinic for low-income patients where López receives regular prenatal care.
Dr. Christopher Lindeken placed a handheld Doppler machine on López's large, bare belly, and a whooshing rhythmic sound emerged. It was the baby's heartbeat.
"(She) likes to move around a lot," Lindeken said, indicating the baby was growing strong.
Lindeken also discussed a contraceptive plan for the future.
It is almost surreal to López and Houghtling that they will be parents.
They have thought about putting the baby up for adoption but wavered to think that the separation could cause emotional scars or that their child could be worse off in a foster-care system.
"She's my little jewel," Houghtling said, holding up a framed sonogram image.
Although the child is destined to be born without a home, her parents dream of a better tomorrow.
"We're going to try to make it work," López said.
One day after her prenatal check-up at Channel Medical Center, López felt something was different in her body.
Guided by that feeling of discomfort, the couple caught a car ride from a friend to San Joaquín General Hospital.
López went into labor.
But is it too early? Is she ready? The baby wasn't due to arrive for three more weeks.
She is a 6-pound, 19-inch bundle; healthy as her parents wished.
Saundra Rose was born to Tanya López and Briton Houghtling on May 5, three weeks before her due date.
Too young to understand the worries that plague her parents about her future, Saundra's rosy face cuddled in a receiving blanket radiates calm.
She does not know she is homeless.
Since March, her parents have lived at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. Before that, they lived in a homemade tent in downtown Stockton for seven months.
More than 24 pregnant women have sought refuge at the shelter this year, and a few have given birth while staying there, said Katie Maxwell, case manager at the organization's family complex.
Saundra is one of those children.
"It's not a child's fault that they're homeless," Maxwell said. "People think that all homeless are drug addicts, but a lot of times, families come on hard times. They're just trying to do everything they can to get back on their feet."
After a three-day stay at San Joaquín General Hospital, Saundra received a check-up before her discharge.
Besides a mild case of jaundice, the baby appeared to be fine.
"Everything looks good," said Amina Smajlovic, a staff pediatrician.
The little girl then demanded attention with a soft cry, the sweetest sound her first-time-dad ever heard.
Houghtling, 45, held Saundra on his chest. She's no bigger than half his arm.
"It's OK," he said. His gentle caress soothed her cries.
But reality awaits them. The family packed their belongings, including a few gifts, and headed home.
Upon her arrival to the homeless shelter, where Saundra's parents had lived since March, there was a buzz about a new resident.
"Come on over," Maxwell eagerly invited other residents to see. "It's a new shelter baby."