Grisel Ramirez, 48, allegedly disguised herself in hospital scrubs and posed as a visitor to enter the hospital where she attempted to abduct a baby from Garden Grove Medical Center on Monday, Lt. Jeff Nightengale said.
The husband had no idea she wasn't pregnant and was shocked to learn she tried to steal a baby to back her claims, Nightengale said.
"She perpetuated this myth for several months, and they don't live together and don't see each other, so the husband totally believed it," said Nightengale.
When the due date passed, Ramirez' husband pressed her to meet the child, asking questions like "When do I get to meet my daughter? When do I need to sign the birth certificate?"
"We interviewed him last night and he for sure thought he was the father of a baby girl," Nightengale said. "He was upset and devastated that it wasn't true."
Ramirez, a waitress, also may have approached several expectant moms and asked about their due dates and their baby's gender at Western Medical Center-Anaheim on July 26, Nightengale said.
An expectant mom grew suspicious of the questions and alerted hospital staff, who alerted police.
There was no surveillance video available at the hospital, so police did a photo lineup for the people who witnessed the woman's strange activity and they positively identified Ramirez as the inquisitive lurker.
Garden Grove Medical Center Director Sofia Abrina said Tuesday that Ramirez presented herself as a visitor who wanted to visit a patient when she entered the hospital Monday.
Abrina said when a sensor attached to a bracelet around the baby's ankle set off alarms, everyone in the ward began searching and running head counts on patients until Ramirez was apprehended.
Ramirez is accused of entering the room of the baby's mother and posing as a nurse who told the mom to take a shower before a doctor came to examine her.
Once the baby's mother was out of the room, Ramirez allegedly put the newborn in a purple tie-dyed tote bag and tried to carry her out of the ward, setting off the alarm.
Many hospital wards have security systems where patients, such as newborns or those with Alzheimer's disease, are tagged with an electronic sensor - usually in a bracelet or anklet - that sets off an alarm when the patient leaves a certain perimeter.
The baby wasn't harmed during the short time she was in the tote and was returned to the care of her mother.
Authorities have not yet filed any charges against Ramirez.
Ramirez is being held without bail and is due for arraignment Wednesday.