Of the Baker City Herald

Baker County's newest resident may have just missed qualifying as a tax deduction for 2002, but his appearance Saturday morning was still a mighty welcome experience for his parents and his two siblings.

Little Anthony Wong all 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 20 1/2 inches of him is the county's first baby for 2003. He was born at 8:22 a.m. Saturday at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Parents Christine Wong, 33, and Philip Wong, 36, said their other children Johnny, 7, and Amy, 4 couldn't wait Saturday to meet their tiny baby brother.

andquot;The children welcomed him with their love,andquot; Christine said, rocking her youngest child back to sleep before her scheduled discharge from the hospital Sunday morning. andquot;They got to touch him, and it made them so happy.andquot;

andquot;We didn't plan this child he was a New Year's gift,andquot; Philip added. andquot;But that's it no more!andquot;

Philip is manager at Huang's Tea House restaurant in Baker City, where his wife works as a waitress and, sometimes, in the kitchen. She plans to take a couple months off work to be home with Anthony, but Philip said he planned to pull his usual shift Sunday.

But he wouldn't have missed Saturday morning's big event for the world.

andquot;When you're there to help with the birth, you feel real proud,andquot; he said. andquot;It makes you feel close to your family's union.andquot;

Traditional Chinese men often aren't present during the labor and delivery of their children, believing it to be bad luck, he said. But, he added, more and more young Chinese fathers are there with their wives to lend their support.

Like his father, Anthony was born during the Chinese Year of the Horse. Children born during those years are said to be smart and popular, his mother said.

One of Anthony's initial behaviors proved to be very popular with his parents: he slept through most of the night, his mother reported with a smile.

Dr. Daniel Smithson had the honor of delivering the county's youngest baby, along with the help of obstetrics nurse Leona Cameron.

andquot;Mom labored very well,andquot; Cameron said of Christine's two-hour effort. andquot;They're a delightful couple. And Anthony started eating right away. That's always a good sign.andquot;

Despite Anthony's arriving three days after his due date, nobody seriously challenged him for first-baby-of-the-year honors, Cameron said.

andquot;There was no other mom checked into the maternity unit,andquot; she said. andquot;We've been giving him all of our attention.andquot;

Besides being the recipient of all manner of doting at the hospital, Anthony's good timing means his family receives a handsome gift basket from local merchants. Gifts include a nativity figurine, free film processing, several meals and a andquot;Mommy and Meandquot; swim class at the Baker Family YMCA.

andquot;They're very nice gifts,andquot; Christine said. andquot;They're all gifts we can use.andquot;