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'He's perfect'

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Baby born less than four pounds now March of Dimes ambassador

By Stephen Lega

Adam Knopp admits he was scared the first time he held his son, Will, now 12 weeks old.

"I didn't want to hold him that long ... he was tiny," Adam said.

Many men can probably relate to what Adam, 26, was feeling at that moment at 3 a.m. the day after his son was born, but in this case, tiny is more appropriate than usual.

Will was born at 31 weeks, weighed three pounds and seven ounces and was 16 inches long.

"He was a little wrinkly thing," said Will's mother, Ashley Knopp, 25.

Today, Will weighs close to nine pounds and is more than 20 inches long. He was able to come home after a five-week stay at Kosair Children's Hospital.

Adam said Will's muscles are developing well and his vision is good.

"He's perfect," Ashley said, cradling Will in her arms.

The Knopps were also the perfect choice to be the ambassador family for the 2009 Marion County March for Babies. The event is scheduled to be held Saturday, Oct. 3, at Graham Memorial Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the march starts at 10 a.m.

The week before Will's birth and the five weeks after were an emotional roller coaster for Adam and Ashley.

"We experienced everything," Ashley said. "I don't think there's an emotion that we missed during that five weeks. It was crazy."

During her pregnancy, Ashley experienced preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure. At one point she was admitted to Spring View Hospital for two days, then sent home when her blood pressure went down.

A few days later, her blood pressure rose again, and her doctors recommended that she go to Norton's Hospital in Louisville.

Ashley said the doctors told them to expect to be in the hospital for the next four to five weeks. A few days later, as Ashley felt sicker and sicker, they decided to deliver Will. He was born at 10:18 p.m. July 10.

"The day before our anniversary," Adam said.

"An hour and a half before our anniversary," Ashley added, "our first anniversary."

Will was quickly cleaned up and rushed to Kosair's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Adam said he was a mix of emotions.

"It was the experience of a lifetime, no doubt," he said. "I was scared and happy and concerned, all at the same time. It was exhausting."

Adam said he went back and forth between Kosair and Norton's about five times that night checking on Ashley and Will. Around 3 a.m., he held Will for the first time. Adam didn't fall asleep until around 6 a.m. the morning after Will was born.

Ashley said she has a foggy memory of holding Will about 12 hours after he was born, but she was heavily medicated for much of the day following his birth. She said she got to spend time with her son three different times that day.

"I would just fall asleep trying to hold him," she said. "I couldn't keep my eyes open."

For a week, Adam and Ashley stayed in Louisville with a relative. Then for four more weeks, they made daily trips back and forth from Lebanon to Louisville.

When you wake up in the morning you're tired. When you get up there, you're so happy to see him," Adam said.

When friends and family came up to Kosair, many were surprised at how small Will actually was. Adam said they had posted photos of him online, but they didn't really put into perspective how little Will was.

Now, Will is home, happy and healthy, and he's attracting a lot of attention from family and friends.

"Everybody's pretty much just stupid over him," Ashley said.

Ashley's mother works as a nurse in labor and delivery at Spring View Hospital, and she has been involved in the March for Babies for years. Ashley said they approached her to see if she and Adam would be interested in being this year's ambassador family.

They agreed, and they both said they intend to stay involved in the March of Dimes for years to come.

"It will definitely be something we stay involved in," Ashley said. "We're glad to be a part of it."

  Want to meet Will?

Adam and Ashley Knopp and their son, Will, are the ambassador family for the 2009 Marion County March for Babies.

The event will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, at Graham Memorial Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m.

Participants can also register online at www.marchofdimes.com/kentucky/.

For more information, call (270) 746-5411 or email Jennifer Reynolds at jreynolds@marchofdimes.com.