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Mother recounts joys of his first year

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Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2001 10:00 pm

We lay there in wait. Both of us anxious. Both unsure what the next move would be.

He would move, trying to find a more comfortable position. I would do the same.

Hour after hour crept by. Twelve hours approached and Maureen, my midwife, came to check on us. We weren't progressing as she had hoped.

I was still at 5-6 centimeters. The baby wasn't planning an escape anytime soon. It was time for a Cesarean.

As we walked into the surgery room, I was tired but also exhilarated. In only a matter of moments, my child would be born into this world. It wasn't the way my husband, Scott, and I had planned, but I still had carried this precious gift for nine wonderful months. And really - 12 hours was wearing me out.

Scott stood over me, waiting, in anticipation.Jennifer Matthews-Howell

The procedure began on Dec. 1, 2000, and at 7:02 p.m., the world welcomed a little boy named Chase Quigley Howell (Yes, Quigley. It means one with messy hair). All 9 pounds, 3 ounces and 20 inches.

As soon as Maureen, who was videotaping his miraculous birth, proclaimed "It's a boy!" Scott and I breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Scott had tears running down his face. It was only the second time since I have known him that I have witnessed him cry. The other time, we were married.

We were now a family with our new addition. The best Christmas present I have every received.

On Saturday, we celebrated his first birthday.

Chase has grown so much.

From laying on his back to crawling, an evolution has taken place. Friday, our son took six toddling steps.

His toothless grin has been replaced by five - nearly six - pearly white teeth.

Chase's babbling makes sense to me as we exchange thoughts and wisdom as I wash behind his ears at bath time, a favorite time for us both. He is now a professional splasher, as he douses the entire bathroom.

And boy, what a temper! He must get it from his father's side. I would never act in such a way, although Scott may argue differently. Chase is not shy when he wants something that he can't have.

"Honey, it's not that I don't love you, but that stove is not a good play thing."

And without hesitation, loud, angry syllables come screaming from his mouth. I can only imagine what he's yelling at me.

And not to imply that my son is spoiled, but he'd much rather you feed him or hold his bottle as he plays or watches his favorite television shows, "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Zaboomafoo" or "Bear in the Big Blue House" - all of which have tunes that are stuck in Scott's and my minds.

How many times have we been working, shopping or just sitting in bed, when this familiar song escapes loud enough for someone to hear.

Just like everyone else, Chase has his quirks. He doesn't like to wear hats on his head. He refuses. So his daddy and I have to distract him and make him forget about the warm thing on his little noggin. He hates when his head needs to be rinsed during his bath. But it's OK for him to plunge his face into the water to blow bubbles.

I know I am in trouble, though. Now I am sure your child is cute and adorable. But not like Chase. I am not bragging or anything. OK, so I am. But Chase is the most handsome baby in the whole world. OK, maybe the world is a little extreme. The United States. OK! California. I have witnesses. His grandmothers and grandfathers, his great-grandmother and father, his aunts and uncles. And they are all very honest people. They would tell you the same. Chase Quigley Howell is the cutest baby in the world.

But back to my problem. He is already the world's biggest flirt. Any woman who comes within a mile of this child falls madly in love with him. He plays coy and bashful. He knows what he's doing. He's dangerous. What is a mother to do? Lock him up. That's what I'll do. Then I won't have to worry about girlfriends.

My favorite moments are when he's asleep. Not because I can finally catch my breath. But to have his little head tuck under my chin. The warmth of his little body. The slow rhythmic breathing. It melts my heart. Any stress I feel dissipates. It is an amazing thing to realize you are holding the miracle of life so close to you. All the yuckiness of the world; wars, hate, and murder, it disappears for a brief moment. Hope returns. The hope that this little life in my arms, could change the world and make it a better place.

He has lost the wrinkly little skin. His eyes are a lot brighter. He stands on his own. The baby we brought home from the hospital is no more. He is our little man. A year later, everything is still new, a different kind of new. As first-time parents, we are learning just as he is. Everyday is something exciting. And although the little milestones are all his, they are ours as well. We are just as excited if not more.

The first year is exciting. But it's not the end.

You've come a long way, baby. Your future is bright. Happy Birthday, Boo! We love you.

Jennifer Matthews-Howell is a photographer for the News-Sentinel.


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