Weighing exactly 8 pounds and measuring 20 inches, Gabriella Vieira Reis was the answer to her father's prayers when she arrived at 4:18 a.m. New Year's Day, the first baby to be born in 2008 at Howard County General Hospital.
Asked if the baby was "Daddy's little girl," Antonio Reis beamed and smiled broadly while his wife, Cristiane Campos, quickly answered for him: "It has been his dream [to have a daughter]. He has been praying for this day."
Reis and Campos also are the parents of a son.
Though Gabriella was the first baby to make an appearance at Howard County General in the New Year, two other girls and two boys were born at the hospital on Jan. 1, said Sharon Sopp, hospital spokeswoman. There have been about 3,000 births annually there since the early 1990s, Sopp said.
Gabriella has an 8-year-old brother, Matheus Reis, a third-grader at Laurel Woods Elementary School. Matheus chose his new sister's name, his mother said, and she approved his choice, even though she had chosen the name Julia.
"It was important to him," said Campos, who had delivered by Caesarean section after coming with her husband to the hospital's emergency room about 2 a.m. New Year's Day. "I think Matheus is going to be a very good helper."
The couple had attended a New Year's Eve service from 10 p.m. to midnight at their church, Nations United Baptist in Silver Spring, when Campos felt labor pains and decided to come to the hospital.
"The baby is only a little early, since I was scheduled for a C-section on Jan. 3," Campos said.
Her pregnancy had no complications, she added, but she had delivered her son by Caesarean section, so the decision was made to have the same procedure with her second child.
Family members knew the baby would be a girl, so Gabriella will go home to a "pink everything" room stocked with lots of outfits given to her by Campos' boss and co-workers at the housecleaning company where she works.
Many sets of secondhand girls clothing are being passed on to the infant by Campos' friend, Loiana Ramos, who had a girl she named Hannah seven months ago.
The women met at their church, and both families are from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ramos, who came to see the baby Monday afternoon, said that their Brazilian church has a service during which they can "pray for the coming new year" and then worshipers sit down to a meal. The service had ended when the expectant couple headed back to Howard County to get what they needed before driving to Columbia.
Reis, a truck driver for a towing service, said, "Everyone at our church knew what was happening when we left there, and everyone was excited."
Added Campos: "Our church friends already came to see our baby. We are very lucky to have so many friends."
Reis, 34, and Campos, 31, immigrated to Laurel in Prince George's County five years ago and then moved to North Laurel in Howard County a little more than two months ago, Reis said. The couple left behind many uncles and aunts in Brazil who are planning to come to the United States soon to see the baby, they said.
While she acknowledged being tired from her early-morning surgery, Campos said the hospital staff had been "very good" and complimented nurse Aimee Spencer, who had helped her early on. She said she plans to stay home with Gabriella for a few months, but then will return to her job because "everyone is waiting for me to come back."
As she spoke, the baby fussed, and Ramos approached the bassinet, speaking softly to the infant and quickly quieting her cries.
"When I was still expecting, Loiana talked to her inside my stomach," Campos said with a smile, "and I think Gabriella still recognizes her voice."
Ramos laughed, saying, "My tone of voice never works with [soothing] my own children, only the babies of other people."
For the distinction of being the first baby of the New Year, Howard County General presented the parents with a gift basket of baby-care products and a dozen red roses, said Sopp.
"Gabriella probably didn't win any race in the New Year in the Baltimore area, but we like to recognize the first birth here," she said.
The first baby born in the Baltimore area on Jan. 1, according to WBAL-TV, arrived at 12:09 a.m. at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The Washington Post reported that the first child of the New Year in the Washington area was delivered at 12:02 a.m. at George Washington University Hospital in Washington.