Presenting our 15th warrior, Corbin!

Corbin’s mom, Ruth, has a very well organized blog about her pregnancy and post-pregnancy life with Corbin. I contemplated re-writing a post to include for this blog but she has written everything so perfectly that I would never dare take that away (I’m not the best writer, anyway). I am in awe of her bravery for not only writing her feelings and experiences with CHD, but for allowing me to share them here. Below are links to the stories and small excerpts from them that Ruth has posted on her beautiful blog, “The Pearl in the Oyster“.

“February 20th, 2011, I gave birth via c-section to a 6lb, 14oz little boy. Little did we know that he had serious heart defects that would require heart surgery at ten days old.
This is his story.”

Day One

“I’m wheeled down to the OR.
The staff are really friendly. I can tell they are trying to distract me by starting a conversation. I appreciate the thought, but it didn’t really help. I am VERY aware of the anesthesiologist getting the needle ready.
The first stick really stings but it works immediately. I feel a lot of pressure when the spinal goes in and feel my toes go numb in seconds.
They lay me down and start prepping my belly. Anesthesia makes me nauseous and I’m sick once.
After some big tugs and lots of pressure:
“Whaaaa!”
I, of course, start crying.
At 2:27 pm, Peanut is brought into the world. 6 pounds, 14 ounces, he is a tiny little squirt compared to my first born of 9 pounds, 4 ounces. He cries as the clean him off and wrap him up.
When I first see him, he’s really wrinkly and red. I notice he has my nose and Hubby’s eyebrows. Just like my first born….”

Days Two and Three

“Everyone tells me that heart murmurs are nothing, and not to be worried.
But I have a bad feeling about this.”

“After a couple hours, Dr, D stops by. He tells us that Peanut’s vitals are good, his blood pressure has gone down, and he and the cardiologist see nothing wrong with sending him home. He does want to see him Thursday to check his jaundice, as it is still a little high.
YAY!
So the baby is cleared, but I am not. I still have to wait on my OB to get back from Covington.”

Day Four

“”Crap” I think to myself. It’s never good when the technician won’t talk to you.
Hubby asks:
“So do you see the murmur?”
She doesn’t answer.”

Day Five

“Around 7 that evening, members from our church show up to anoint the baby with oil. I’m not sure exactly what it means (shows how often I go to church), but in a spiritual way it makes me feel better.”

Day Six

“The NICU is very quiet and dark. We walk into a room with four stations with four babies. Peanut is on the left with a doctor standing over him, running an ultrasound of his heart. She is quiet at first, consulting with her assistant.
A short while later, she motions us over and begins to explain what she is seeing.
She has a very neat Eastern European accent.”

Day Seven

“We unpack our things at “the house” then head out for dinner. I know we can eat at the house for free, but the past couple days have been so hectic we just want to get out. We get dinner at the Roadhouse. It feels good to spend time with Hubby, laughing and making fun of people like we do.
But I also feel guilt. I feel so guilty every time I laugh. Every time I smile. I tell myself “you’re not allowed to be happy! Your child is in the hospital, broken, and you are out having fun!?”
I can’t stand myself.
And in the mornings when I first wake up, I forget just for an instant, what is happening. For the tiniest nanosecond I am happy. Then it all comes back…like a slap in the face…like a knife through the heart.
I remember.
I remember why we are here. In this strange hotel. With the hospital band still around my wrist.
My son is broken.”

Days Eight and Nine

“When we get to the hospital, the nurse tells us that over night, Peanut decided he did not need his breathing tube anymore and pulled it right out!”

“At this point I start crying. But it doesn’t faze the doctor. He touches my hand, once and very lightly, then continues on explaining. I stop thinking. All I hear is: death. It’s too much. I can’t hold it in and the tears flow.”

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“This is Corbin, just hours before his first heart surgery. We got to the NICU two hours early so that we could hold him till the OR team got there. He slept so good, he was snoring. I love that memory. ♥” (from The Corbin Story Facebook page)

Surgery Day

“Before the surgery, Hubby and I came over to the NICU at 6:30 so we would be able to hold Peanut one last time. He still had a breathing tube and dozens of wires, but as long as we sat close to his bed, we could hold him. He had come off of isolation the day before so we didn’t have to wear gowns.
It was heavenly holding my baby. Once I got him situated, he was in bliss. He slept so soundly for the two hours I got to hold him; the nurses were laughing at him. He was sprawled out with one arm hanging off to the side and was snoring. They told me he hadn’t been sleeping well the past two days and he was bound to be exhausted.
No one can do it like mama.
I loved it, I could have sat there all day staring at him. He was so peaceful, breathing calmly, snoring slightly. It was perfect.”

Post-Surgery, the next few days

“I am keeping a journal so I can take notes during rounds and conversations with doctors. God knows I would never be able to remember all these medical terms on my own.
Dr. Rh, the Ped. Cardiologist, looks like Santa. He is short and round with a long beard that he likes to stroke when he is in a deep thought. Then there is Dr. M, his Intensivist (specializes in critically ill patients), Julie the Ped. Nurse Practitioner, and Dr. P, another Ped. Cardiologist.
The doctors ramble off all his numbers and stats for the night, what kind of meds he is on, and their plan for the day.
I write down quotes so I can pass them along. But only the good ones.
“ventilates great”
“stats are good for a mixer” (mixer meaning that the two holes in his heart are mixing the blood)
“better today then when he came in”
Rounds are fun! (only when the news is good of course).”

Here, Corbin’s mom explains the several severe CHDs that her son was born with: two ASDs and VSDs, Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV), Atrial Tachycardia, Prolonged QT, Williams Syndrome… The Diagnosis

Here is a section where Ruth includes more great explanations and more details about the several CHDs that Corbin was born with…Corbin’s Heart Defects

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“This is what Corbin’s room looked like immediately after surgery. There are two monitors keeping track of his stats, an oxygen tank, a ventilator, and 15 medicine dispensers. I wrote in my blog that it looked like the deck of a space ship. Amazing isn’t it?” (from The Corbin Story Facebook page)

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(from The Corbin Story Facebook page: “Sadly, I don’t have a picture of all 4 of us 😦 the bottom right is the only pic of I have of both the boys together and the top is the only one of my hubby and I with Corbin. I hate, hate that I don’t have more.”

The Talk

“So I knew this talk would come. I could tell by the way the doctor was looking at me that he was going to tell me there is a chance my child won’t make it. That I need to make the decision, that in the event his heart stops beating, do I want them to try and save him or let his disease take its course.
I don’t know the answer.
I don’t know what I want them to do or how I feel about it. I am still processing this and still trying to figure out my feelings.
I’m not saying this is the end of the road. I’m not saying Peanut is on his death bed. I’m just saying there is a chance that he may not make it.”

From Two, to One….

I was going to put an excerpt here, but I just couldn’t. Please click the above link…and read….

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Corbin Walker Caruthers February 20th – May 17th 2011

Once a warrior, always a warrior.

Here is Corbin’s handsome big brother:

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“He was too young to realize he had lost a brother and I am thankful for that but we do tell him about Corbin and include him in everyday talk.”

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“Wow. Just wow. My hubby surprised me with the most thoughtful and amazing gift, made by a woman he works with. I cried when I read the quote ♥” (This was an incredible Christmas present given to the family.)

Now, Corbin and his family save the lives of many other babies born in this country. His mom works tirelessly to promote Congenital Heart Defect awareness and for pulxe oximestry use in every newborn to help detect a possible underlying heart condition. She is such a strong advocate, that she and Corbin, along with her supporters who saw the reason to march forward, passed a law in Corbin’s home state of West Virginia. A law appropriately called, Corbin’s Law. Now, every newborn is screened for critical heart defects in Corbin’s home state. Corbin is saving lives one day at a time.

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The Corbin Story Fund- a non-profit fund where donations used help fund educational material, an educational class, and projects around the community. Please visit this page and support!

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The Corbin Story. Spreading CHD awareness and pulse ox screening information every day.

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He’s saving lives.

2 responses to “Presenting our 15th warrior, Corbin!

  1. Wow. I love, love, love this. You did an incredible job of summing up Corbin’s story without really leaving anything out. Thank you, thank you ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. I have read a bit of your story before. I read through so much more while compiling this. I am so in awe of your strength. You, mama, are pretty darn incredible. Thank you so much for letting us sharing Corbin’s story!!

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