Love in a New Light

Everyone always talks about how you don't really know how much you can love a person until you have a child. While I won't disagree with this statement, I will say that I've seen love in a new light since having Cooper. Let me go back a few days to help make my point.

While in the hospital, Cooper was poked and pricked more than any tiny person should be. Here is just one foot worth of evidence. His other foot looked about the same.  He had bruises and scabs from IV lines on each hand, not to mention the visible hole in his scalp from another IV stick. I know it probably doesn't look like much, but it left quite an impression on me.

I can't help but associate the wounds of my son with the wounds on the hands and feet of Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way comparing my child to the Saviour of the world. I'm just saying each hand, each foot, and Cooper's sweet little head was marred.  More than realizing how much I can love another person, I started to realize how much God loves me.  I cannot fathom giving my son up for anyone. Let alone a person who seems to constantly ignore me and take me for granted. But God continues to love me. Even when I am so consumed with my son that I have consistanly failed to spend time with Him.  

I am committed to getting back to my daily quiet time, even if it happens during a 3am feeding.  I want Cooper to grow up knowing how important God's word is. I want him to see Tanner and I giving it the place in our lives that it deserves. I remember seeing my parents reading the bible; my mom's is held together with duct tape.  I want my son to have a good example like I did. And that example starts with me.

All that to say, on Tuesday, Cooper finally shed to last of the marks that served as reminders of how his little life on the outside started.  The spot from the IV on his left hand has finally healed. Now there are no visible signs left that he spent his first week in the NICU. He looks like any other almost-month-old baby, but he is cuter than most!

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19 

The First of Many Firsts

Today was a day full of firsts for the Corbin family. We had our first meal outside the house as a family of three.  I met Tanner at work and we went to Hideway for some delicious pizza. Cooper did great!  He slept in his car seat most of the time.  It was really weird to walk in and tell the hostess we were 2 and a baby. That will definitely take some getting used to.

I also took Cooper to PPOK to meet Tanner's coworkers.  They loved him. He was probably held by more people in the 30 minutes we were there than in his entire 20 days combined.  All the women wanted to take his socks off and see his little baby feet. To each her own....I guess. After that I took him by the pharmacy to meet the folks I work with. They were pretty busy so we didn't stay long. But it was nice to see everyone.

This is kind of random, but I probably ought to update everyone on how Cooper has been doing since we brought him home.  We went to the pediatrician (with Tanner in tow) for the first time Monday, February 28. He weighed 6lbs 7oz (up 2 ounces since leaving the hospital).  I was so nervous that they would need to draw blood to check his bili level. I know this sounds a little over protective, but this kid has been poked a lot.  Dr. Arambula had this fancy little contraption that she touched to his forehead that read his level. I was so excited that they didn't have to stick him again!  He still had a little jaundice so he got to sit by the window and work on his tan.

This Monday was my first time to take Cooper anywhere by myself.  We went back to the doctor.  He had gained 8 ounces (6lbs 15oz if you are keeping track) and his jaundice had resolved. He pulled what Dr. Arambula calls a "little boy trick." He peed all over the exam table. The trick is that he had a diaper on....and the diaper was 100% dry.  He somehow made a puddle all over the table without getting a single drop in his diaper.  I don't know how he did it, but at least we could leave the diaper on him. 

After the doctor we took our first trip to Target. This also led to his first meal in the dressing room. Thank you Target for being so accommodating to this nursing mom! It's nice to not have to pack formula and bottles when we get out.  His meals are always ready to go as long as we are together. However, I refuse to go to the bathroom to feed him. Seriously, would you want to eat your lunch in a bathroom? Didn't think so. It's not like I'm stripping down in the middle of an aisle. I have a very discreet nursing cover for times when there isn't a fitting room available. And I guess if all else fails, we'll just go to the car. It's an adjustment, but we will make it work.

I know we will have so many firsts, most of which will be more significant than pizza. But we are trying to enjoy each of the firsts as they come. I'm sure before we know it we will be experiencing some less enjoyable firsts.  His first time being grounded, his first date - who are we kidding? He can't date...ever!  Maybe even those we will enjoy in some way. Maybe he will learn a valuable lesson or meet the girl of his dreams.  One of these days, we will move on from these little, possibly meaningless, firsts to the real deal. But for now, I'm loving the little firsts.

Today Was Supposed To Be The Day

All day I keep being reminded that today was the day I was supposed to have a baby. I know, I know...babies are rarely born on their due date. I'm just sitting here staring at a 2 week old kiddo and thinking, "Would things have been different if he had stayed put until today?" I tell myself over and over that everything happened just like it was supposed to. Sometimes, I have to try very hard to convince myself that it's the truth.  Maybe this is all just hormones talking.  On second thought, I'm 95% sure it's hormones. But it's still how I feel.

On a more fun note - Cooper is 2 weeks old today! He is such a fun little guy. So far (keeping my fingers crossed and praying to God it continues) he's been a great baby. Eats well, sleeps well, has tons of gas. The gas thing may sound irrelevant, but it leads to lots of tummy bubble grins. Can't wait until those smiles are real.  Cooper met all of his cousins on my side of the family today. There was lots of love and snuggles and hand sanitizer to go around. While Jackson was holding Coop he kept leaning down and whispering to him. When asked what he said, he told us it was a secret. Finally he told us that he said, "Cooper, wake up! It's me, Jackson."  How sweet! Love you Ethan, Abbey, Connor, Jackson and Addison!

We are usually up 2-3 times per night. I nurse him and then if he seems tuckered out but still hungry, Tanner will give him a bottle. Nursing is going well; he just needs to build up enough stamina to fill his little belly. After feeding, we do a quick diaper change and then wrap up our baby burrito. We lay him down in his bed (co-sleeper in our room) and he usually goes right to sleep.  That is part of the upside of the NICU stay.  While in the hospital, he got used to being put down and falling asleep on his own. We are hoping to keep this habit in place.  As hard as it is during the day to not snuggle or rock him to sleep, it sure pays off at 3am.

Tanner went back to work on Tuesday.  Not bringing Cooper home until he was almost a week old sure put a kink in Daddy's plans.  There was no way Tanner was going to be convinced to go to work while Cooper was still in the hospital. But he was a little heartbroken that he didn't get to spend much time at home with us.  He will have some more days off later in the year.  Hopefully they can get in some quality guy time.

I know this is just random babbling. I felt like I needed to put some of my weird feelings on "paper."  I think catharsis is the cure for postpartum mood swings. 

Cooper's Road Home - Part 2

Ok, sorry to leave everyone hanging. And sorry it took me so long to get the rest of this typed up. I just had a baby - I have a really good excuse for being a little lazy.  So, here goes.

We got me checked in at Baptist and got a little settled while we waited for word that we could go see Cooper. When we finally went down to the NICU for the first time, we were overwhelmed. We had to get directions on how to be NICU parents:
     1. Pick up the phone outside the unit and let them know who you are.
     2. Sign in at the desk 
     3. Wash your hands.
We were then lead back to our son's room. Amanda (our first of many amazing NICU nurses) gave us more directions on how things work.  Cooper would have "hands on time" at scheduled intervals throughout the day. These were the times that we could come and be with him. Each time we could help with his care by taking his temperature and changing his diaper. Then, depending on his current condition, we could hold him for a short time. 

Initially, Cooper was unable to eat because of the CPAP; he would get all of his calories from his IV until he was taken off CPAP.  This meant his hands on time was scheduled for every 4 hours. Amanda emphasized the fact that when he is resting, he is healing.  It was hard to not be with him all the time, but we wanted him to heal as quickly as possible.  We reached inside the holes in his isolette and just put our hands on him. For now, this was all the contact we could have with him. This was Friday.

Saturday started out nicely. We went to visit Cooper and Tanner finally got to hold him for the first time.

Our nurse for the day, Monica, decided to be a rebel. She pulled Cooper off his CPAP to see how he would do. He did pretty well and was off of everything helping him breathe. At this point we were thinking it would be a very short stay. Since he could now have oral nutrition, they placed a feeding tube from his mouth, down his throat, to his stomach.  He was fed formula through the tube all day and tolerated it fairly well.

On Sunday, the tube in his mouth was removed and a new feeding tube was placed through his nose. He was still doing well with his feedings. This new tube would allow us to bottle feed him and they would only use the tube if he didn't take enough from the bottle. This was great news! But by the end of the day, his breathing was irregular and he was on oxygen. They were able to give him oxygen through a teeny, tiny nasal cannula. No more big, ugly CPAP. 


Sunday was also the day I was discharged from the hospital. This meant that we had to leave that night and drive home with an empty car seat. Torture is the only word I know that comes close to describing Sunday. That morning, Tanner went home for a while to shower and get another change of clothes - we hadn't packed for such a long hospital stay.  I sat in my bed pumping (I was planning to breastfeed but he could not even attempt it for the first few days) and crying my eyes out.  I was dreading this day!  Tanner and I had talked so many times while I was pregnant about the fact that going home from the hospital without our child was one of the worst things we could imagine.  And now it was happening.

Tanner and I were both very distraught. We didn't know how to do this. All we could do was go hold Cooper during hands on time and come back to my room and cry.  Thankfully, we have an amazing family. Tanner's sister in particular was very helpful. She came and prayed with us. She told us not to let satan use our circumstances to steal our joy.  We were parents - something we had wanted for so long! Something we knew was part of God's plan for us. And we were wallowing in our situation. From that point on, we tried to remain joyful. After all, we knew our child would come home eventually. We were confident that God would heal him.  We walked out of the NICU at the end of the day sad, but not broken.  Believe it or not, I did not shed a tear.

Monday brought a renewed energy - it's amazing what sleeping in your own bed will do.  Cooper had a good night, but we walked into the NICU that morning to bright blue lights coming from his room. His bilirubin was high so they placed him under lights. Nothing out of the ordinary for a newborn. Just one more thing for him to contend with. He did look pretty stinking cute with his shades.


Monday, he lost the IV access in his hand, so they had to start an IV in the top of his head. The nurses called it his unicorn horn. It was not easy to look at, but we got used to it.  At this point, he was only getting minimal amounts of IV fluid, but they wanted to maintain an IV just in case. They were able to stop the oxygen and start Vapo-therm.  This was heated, humidified air which was forced into his lungs to help keep those ornery little alveoli open. They could give oxygen through the Vapo-therm, but he didn't really need extra oxygen, just a little more time for his lungs to mature completely. He was only a few steps away from coming home.

We were getting comfortable with being in the NICU, which we secretly hated. I was naked from the waist up to pump multiple times a day. They recognized us at the phone (through the security camera) before we told them who we were. We had started leaving our Boppy pillow and some of Cooper's blankets and clothes in his room - not that they could use them yet. We didn't want to feel at home there, but it didn't take long.
 Left: First Family Picture
Right: Unicorn Horn and Feeding Tube

Tuesday was uneventful, which was nice. I got to try breastfeeding him. He did great!

Wednesday, Cooper was finally moved to open crib. He was still attached to all the monitors, but they were able to stop the bili lights. No bili lights meant that he could finally be dressed in some of those clothes that we had left. He very quickly decided to poop all over his clothes and his nurse -  she was a little crazy, so she had it coming.  Apparently my son inherited his daddy's ability to read people. He was not fond of Wednesday's nurse. She was perfectly competent, but just a little high strung. Needless to say, she changed him into one of the hospital t-shirts. Tanner and I got a kick out of Cooper's reaction to someone he didn't really like.

The one think we did like about Wednesday's nurse was that she told us he would be going home the next day.  We were hesitant to believe her because she was so whack-a-doo.  She told us to go home and feather the nest and get a good night's sleep. We had feathered the nest the night we went to the hospital.  The only thing we really needed to do was rest. We found it surprisingly easy to sleep that night.

We woke up Thursday morning still afraid to believe that Cooper would be coming home. He'd had so many ups and downs we just didn't want to be too optimistic.  We were getting ready to leave for the hospital when we got a phone call. Monica (Cooper's favorite nurse - we were so glad it was her) told us to bring the car seat upstairs when we got there.  Was she serious?!?!  We almost couldn't contain ourselves. This was the news we had waited for for almost a week.

Cooper still had to pass the car seat test (spend time strapped into his car seat while on the monitors to make sure he would tolerate it) which he did with flying colors. He also had his hearing test and circumcision. It was rough time for him, but he handled it like a champ. Monica called us again as soon as all his procedures we over and said we could come pick him up. WOOO-HOOOO!!!!!  We ran upstairs so quickly that we left the keys in the ignition. Thankfully, we also forgot to lock the car!

We got Cooper loaded up, took a quick picture with Monica, and we were on our way.

Cooper loved riding in the car. He just looked around wide-eyed the entire time. Before we knew it, we were pulling in to our drive and unloading him. It was glorious! I have never in my life been so glad to be home. We came inside, looked at each other and said, "What now?"  We didn't know how to be a family outside of the hospital. However, this awkwardness quickly faded and we got settled in.


Cooper has truly been the most amazing thing to happen to us - ever. He is the sweetest little creature. Each day we are trying our best to soak up every single moment with him. We have already seen how days in the hospital can last a year, while days at home pass at lightning speed. We are so thankful that God healed our son. He brought us through the most difficult time in our lives and He strengthened our faith. We could not be more grateful for all the prayers and support from all of our friends and family. I can't say that if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. But I can say that I know God's plan for my son is best. And since this was part of the plan, who am I to wish for anything different.