Hunter Aagaard's chubby face scrunches up as his mom helps him stand.
He blows a spit bubble, and a huge grin blossoms.
Just this summer, Hunter's parents, Kristen Tisdale and Erik Aagaard of Kennewick, had been told to prepare to bury their now 31/2 -month-old son.
But Hunter no longer looks like the small infant connected to myriad tubes that helped him breathe and eat. He bounces around, wriggling in Tisdale's loving grip.
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And even though his right arm is less muscled than his left, he still moves that shoulder, and according to his parents, has been defying all the odds.
When Hunter was born Aug. 24 at Richland's Kadlec Regional Medical Center, he became stuck in his mother's birth canal. It took Kadlec staff 61/2 minutes to resuscitate him. It was the longest that the staff performed chest compressions on a baby who survived, the family was told.
"He's exceeded all expectations," Tisdale said.
There is no evidence of the brain damage that Tisdale and Aagaard were told to expect. He responds like a normal baby for his age, his parents say.
His eyes track his parents. He laughs at funny noises, and he becomes almost instantly enthralled with a Sesame Street song his parents play on their computer.
And Aagaard said Hunter will respond when Aagaard reads to him. Among his favorites is Corduroy -- the book Aagaard read to Hunter in the hospital as he fought to survive.
Tisdale said there have been no seizures, and Hunter is being weaned off of Phenobarbital. Bleeding in the brain doesn't appear to be an issue.
Hunter receives therapy once a week, Tisdale said. He cannot move his right arm and has no feeling in it, but that doesn't stop his parents from holding his tiny hand.
The paralysis is because of an injury to the brachial plexus, a network of spinal nerves that originates in the back of the neck and extends through the armpit to nerves in the upper limb.
Hunter recently had surgery to place dye in his spine, which will indicate which nerves are working, Tisdale said.
And on Dec. 29, Hunter will undergo a 12-hour surgery at Seattle's Children's Hospital that hopefully will help him gain feeling and use of his right arm, she said. The procedure involves transplanting nerves from his calves into his right shoulder.
After the surgery, Hunter likely will need therapy two to three times a week to help him learn to use his arm, Tisdale said.
His parents said they want Gold's Gym, where Aagaard is a personal trainer, and the community to know how grateful they are for the support.
Gold's Gym let Aagaard take several weeks off to care for Hunter. It also collected money to help with the couple's travel expenses to Seattle. And along the way, friends Laura Bennett, Tina Teagle and Teressa Stephens held a fundraising car wash, Hunter's parents said.
A few brightly wrapped presents await Hunter under the family tree in Kennewick, where his parents will spend Christmas Day with their "miracle" of a son.