Baby Breslin never stops. He greets visitors with a mega-watt smile, crawls to explore the Christmas tree, grabs the phone from the coffee table and punches in numbers, plays patty-cake with his mom and then zips behind the couch, looking impishly over his shoulder to see if he is in trouble.
"He's my perfect baby -- perfect in every sense of the word," said Annabell Knight. She sat on her living room couch in Ooltewah on Wednesday, laughing at her 10-month-old son's antics. "God works miracles; he really does."
Breslin is the son for whom Darryl and Annabell hoped and prayed for 13 years, through nine ectopic pregnancies, three in vitro fertilization attempts and endless doctor's visits.
He is the son they almost lost when doctors delivered him 10 months ago, blue-purple and limp.
Annabell, 38, remembers that day with heart-stopping clarity. Her pregnancy -- after they finally conceived -- was normal.
But on Feb. 21, as her water broke, Breslin's heart rate and oxygen levels plummeted.
Doctors at Erlanger East rushed her in for an emergency C-section.
"All I remember is them getting him out and the whole room was quiet," Annabell said. "He wasn't crying."
Annabell couldn't see her son, surrounded by doctors, but Darryl could. Breslin was as limp as a rag doll, not breathing.
Many of the staff were crying.
It was the worst moment in Darryl's life.
"Please, God, don't let this happen again. Don't take him from her. It's too much for her," he prayed, thinking of all the anguish his wife had been through.
He wasn't the only one praying. A nurse stood by Annabell's side, praying with her.
Darryl's mother, who was waiting outside the delivery room, called family. Those family members called family and friends and they, in turn, called family and friends.
"There was one big circle of prayer going on for him," Annabell said. "It is only by the grace of God -- he was in a bad situation."
Three long, agonizing minutes later, Breslin took his first breath. Even then, his breathing capacity was only at 30 percent.
Darryl gave doctors permission to put Breslin's head on ice to keep the swelling down and place him on a cooling blanket so oxygenated blood would go to his vital organs.
Breslin was immediately transferred to Children's Hospital at Erlanger, where he spent eight days in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Annabell remembers the first time Breslin finally cried, two days after he was born.
"It was the prettiest cry I ever heard," she said.
When Breslin was three days old, doctors gradually warmed his body back up to normal levels. And from then on, he was fine. He began eating and responding as his sedation wore off.
He has passed every check-up and test with flying colors.
He loves playing with phones and computers, crawls with lightning speed and whistles when he wakes up from his naps.
His parents bought him a toy computer for Christmas, but Annabell said Breslin will likely spend most of his time playing with the wrapping paper. He loves the crackling noise and tearing it apart.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of screeching and a lot of smiley faces," she said. "It's going to be a good Christmas for us. We wanted him so much, but we came this close to losing him. But he was meant to be here."
Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...