The day Olívia was born

Roya Ann Miller Photography

The day Olívia was born was supposed to be a normal day: get up, go to work, come home. 

That morning I was precisely 39 weeks pregnant. Pedro left Ana at daycare and I took a bit longer to get ready. I needed this baby to come out and so I turned on the old wives'tales mode. Some lady on a motherhood blog explained the fail proof thing to do was a belly rub followed by deep walking squats. She said: "if you do them in the morning, your baby will be born that afternoon". Say no more and 20min of this ritual I did! 

The morning of the day Olívia was born I drove myself to work and trained the person who would substitute me during maternity leave. At around 11am I started feeling a tingly sensation in my belly, but didn't think much of it and carried on. Fifteen minutes later, that feeling came back. And then again another 10 minutes afterwards. But still, I carried on work. 

The day Olívia was born my coworkers started timing the contractions and getting startled every time I would ohh and ahh at what I did not yet consider to be a contraction. I decided that 5min apart was a good enough time to call the obgyn clinic: "I think you should stop by to check your dilation, would 1pm work?" 

In all fairness, everyone at The Iron Yard offered to drive me, but the day Olívia was born I decided I was fine to drive myself. At around 12:30 everyone wished me the best and I cheerfully left work to go birth Olívia with a Jimmy Johns sandwich at hand. By now I was certain these were contractions.

The day Olívia was born I asked Pedro to call Elena so she would pick Ana up from school. I called my family from the car and swallowed the sandwich whole with the anxiety and realization that this was it, we were going to meet Olívia. As a famous grey haired wizard once said: "Things were now in motion that cannot be undone."

The day Olívia was born, the midwife at the clinic checked my dilation... then paused... then laughed and said "You are 6cm, you need to go to the hospital now!" How was I still walking around and having nearly painless contractions? By the time I left the clinic to drive myself to the hospital, the pain kicked in and it began to hurt. 

But not too much, cause the day Olívia was born, I somehow parked the car in the wrong parking lot at the hospital and walked into the first door asking for help: "Excuse me. I'm in labor. where is the maternity ward?". I don't think the lady believed me when I said I was having contractions cause even though by now I was nervous and worried, I was still walking around. It took my about 5min to get to where I need. It was 2pm by now and Pedro was waiting for me at the reception desk of the maternity ward. 

The day Olívia was born, I was asked at the desk if my name, address and race where still the same! Visibly in labor by now, breathing heavily and swaying from side to side, I had no plans in morphing into an african-american and walked myself into the delivery room. I alerted the nurses to my 6cm dilation and that I tend to birth fairly quickly. 

The day Olívia was born we came prepared! I had Pedro and Sarah by my side, my sisters on messenger cheering me on and Elena taking care of Ana. The perfect support group. All I wanted was to be naked and focus on the breathing while holding tight to Pedro's hand.

Olívia was born after about 20min of active and intense labor, and with 2 huge pushes she was out. No tears, no stitching, just minor swelling. Born at 4:23pm, with 50.8cm and 3.230kg with a full set of hair. She was immediately placed on my chest and I cried of a overwhelming feeling of joy and relief that she was perfect and healthy. 

After looking at the raw photos Sarah took, birthing a child is such a primitive, messy and uncontrollable experience. What an adrenaline having those natural birthing pains and full body contractions with no drugs to ease them away. It's so empowering! 

The day Olívia was born Ana joined us to meet her sister and then we were four!

a stopmotion wedding surprise

My sister (aka Padeira) got married to Augusto (aka Carteiro)! 
We wanted to give them a nice surprise for their wedding, so the creative bridesmaids teamed up with Pedro, our stopmotion tech specialist and made an amazing homemade and handcrafted production. 

Inspired by our favorite cardboard designers at Oupas, we scripted the storyboard, cut out the action figures and scenarios, edited with music and voices and taaa daaa, we bring you: O Carteiro e a Padeira for your viewing pleasure!


Ana has been smiling back for a few weeks now and it's very rewarding. Happy baby!
She enjoys being among people and getting all the attention. I'm glad that during these 5 weeks in Portugal she was able to interact with family and friends to the point were I was just a wet nurse: my mom would come garb her in the morning right after I nursed her and take her out into the gardens for fresh air; Pedro's aunt would stand by me while I nursed and immediately grab her to burp and play. I'm just glad Ana still recognized me as her mother after all this!


The obvious portrait: Ana and her great-grandma Julieta. She's 92 ans still going strong, a true matriarch. It's very important for us that Ana understands that she was born into a loving extended family and we do our best so that everyone can keep up with her. 
Ad moment: 
Skype: connecting families overseas! 


The fun thing about having babies at 30 means you are not alone, most of your friends are doing it too! This is Clara, she's 2 weeks older than Ana and it hurts me that they won't be playing together while her mom and I chit-chat about randomness while sipping on a glass of wine.
We all got together back in June and compared cuteness. See you all in September!


At 2 1/2 months Ana was becoming super curious about her surroundings and we were all arguing over who she looks like. At birth babies don't look like anything, their are just newborns. But it's impressive to notice the evolving features slowly taking shape. Ana has the same face as Pedro when he was this age. She's all daddy. Pedro relishes the moment. 


Yes I know, I've been neglecting my blog. It's the Pirates fault! These past few weeks all I want is for Ana to take long naps so I can just get some work done. I sometimes feel bad that I'm not giving her 100% of my attention, but to have happy babies, first you have to have happy mommies. The play time I do spend with her is 100% just for her! Quality over quantity. 
This was actually one of my favorite sleeping positions with Ana at 2 months, she doesn't do this anymore... time does go by so fast. 


"A portrait of Ana every week for a year."

When you have such a peaceful child all you want to do is give thanks!
Ana has been sleeping almost through the night, has no issues nursing, poos and pees on the clock, smiles every time someone plays with her and is developing her own baby personality!  


"A portrait of Ana every week for a year."

In warm weather all baths should be outside, in old plastic tubs and in the arms of grandma and great grandma. 


"A portrait of Ana every week for a year."

Babies cry. That's what they do.
Ana cries, but fortunately for us, she doesn't have that insatiable constant crying that makes us want to pack her up and return her! She cries when she needs to cry. We don't let it bother us and even let her cry when we know she's fine but just wants to let out steam. She's at 7 weeks and has been increasingly fussy in the late afternoon, I guess it's normal.  
A friend told me about Priscilla Dunstan who paid attention to her own child's cries and discovered that he would make the same sounds for certain situations. She summed it up to 5 different sounds babies make to communicate their needs: 
  • neh = hungry
  • owh = sleepy 
  • heh = discomfort (temperature, clothing, diaper, etc.)
  • eair = lower gas
  • eh = burp (air in the upper part of the chest)
I can easily identify eh and neh, but the rest I still have a hard time figuring them out.