- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2002

The Washington area's first baby of 2002 arrived three weeks early to bask in his 15 minutes of fame and the unending attention of his parents.

Stephen Blair was born at 12:04 a.m. yesterday at Prince William Hospital in Manassas, tipping the scales at 6 pounds, 11 ounces. His parents Frederick and Melissa were surprised by his early delivery and the horde of journalists seeking to report his birth.

"The popularity's a little overwhelming," said Mr. Blair, smiling. "You just don't expect to have this kind of attention when you have a baby."

"It's a shock. We did not anticipate this at all," said Mrs. Blair, whose due date was Jan. 22.

The Blairs, who also have a 2-year-old daughter named Taylor, looked flushed with excitement and exhaustion as they conducted interviews and posed for photographs with the newborn boy at the hospital yesterday.

Borderline premature at 36 weeks, Stephen was placed in the hospital's Special Care Nursery because of a breathing problem he exhibited soon after birth. Hospital staff inserted tubes down his throat to help him breathe and by midday said he was fine.

Still, Stephen's need for special care during his first few hours gave his parents cause for concern. "I've been in there a lot," said Mrs. Blair, wiping tears from her eyes. "That's why my eyes are so puffy."

"They always tell you the baby's going to be fine," said Mr. Blair, who himself was born in Prince William Hospital. "But that's a lot easier [to say] if you're the doctor than if you're the parent."

Mrs. Blair's contractions began at around 5 p.m. Monday, and the Blairs arrived at the hospital around 7. Doctors gave her an epidural a painkiller commonly given to women in labor but weaned her off it partially so she could regain enough sensation to deliver Stephen. She started pushing at 12:02 a.m., and two minutes later Stephen was born.

"It looked easy to me," Mr. Blair said. "I wasn't doing anything."

The Blairs found out they would be having a boy September 11. Mrs. Blair said that was a day of violently conflicting emotions. "One minute, we were happy, and the next, we were devastated," she said. "You're thinking, 'I'm bringing another child into a world like this.'"

Yesterday, the Blairs expressed nothing but joy.

"Every father wants a baby boy," Mr. Blair said. "He's going to grow up to be a little soccer player. When he gets older, he'll be amazed that he was the first baby born in such a large area."

Stephen missed out on being the first American baby born in 2002. That title went to Jordan Cole Garcia, who was born about 35 seconds after midnight in Guam, the Pacific Daily News reported.

Weighing in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, Jordan also was premature when he was delivered at Guam Memorial Hospital in Tumon Bay. His mother's due date was Jan. 11.

Desiree Garcia, 28, went into premature labor at 32 weeks and had to work hard to make sure that Jordan was not born too early, which can bring complications.

"The only thing that was going through my mind was that this was the first baby born in America," said Jordan's father, 29-year-old Kailua Faumui.

Jordan is the second child of Miss Garcia and Mr. Faumui.

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