From two, to one...

The day started out like any other.
My alarm goes off at 8 am: I hit snooze.
A half hour later it goes off again. This time I'm up.
I look next to me at my snoring husband. I hate waking him up but we need to get ready to head over for rounds.
We stopped last night at Wal-mart to buy the nurses some goodies. Even though we know we're not leaving anytime soon, we felt like it was the right time to show them how much we appreciate them. We pick out strawberries, grapes, bananas, apples, and cupcakes. We grab the fruit trays before we leave the McDonald house.

We check out like usual.
It looks like it is going to rain, so we drive over. We make it across the parking lot and turn to head onto the road in front of the hospital.
My phone rings.
"Hi, its Adrea, the nurse practitioner from the PICU? Things haven't been going too good for the past hour. You need to come over as soon as possible. We are giving him CPR right now."
I blank out, I can't find words.
", ya. You caught us on our way, we will be there in a few minutes."

I look at Cody.
"They're giving him CPR"
"What!? Oh shit."

The few short minutes it takes to park, walk, and make our way to the sixth floor are a blur. A confused, numb, and in shock kind of blur.

We dump the fruit trays at the front desk and look down the hall. There are at least 6 people standing outside the room just watching. One of the nurses waves at us to come down.
I'm start walking...not sure what to think. As I get closer to the room I can't look.
I can't look in and see what is happening. Is he alive? Are they giving him CPR or have they stopped? What is going on!? My heart is racing.
These thoughts race through my mind in a matter of milliseconds.
I can only keep my eyes on Christy, the nurse. I try and read her face. She looks sad, fearful. I raise my eyebrows in a questioning look. She doesn't nod or shake her head, just directs me into the room.
I see about 10 people. The Intensivist is standing on Corbin's left, giving him chest compressions with one hand and directing nurses with the other. The Cardiologist is on his right side, directing other nurses and giving orders for medications. There is the respiration lady, watching. Another nurse comes in with a huge handful of epinephrin doses. She just dumps them into a container. Another nurse is calling out dosage amounts while another is writing them all down.
It is chaos. Controlled chaos. Like a fast running, well oiled machine.
The doctor waves me over to him. He gives me a hug with his right arm, while still giving compressions with his left. He tells me that Corbin's heart has stopped and they are trying to restart it.
I only nod, the tears flowing.
We navigate our way to the back of the room to watch.
Christy comes over to sit with us.
We watch as gases are read off: they are high but that is normal considering the amount of medications they have just given him.
They keep going.

Christy tells me, if we ever feel like the doctors are pushing him too hard, we can ask them to stop. I am torn. I can't stand to see him like this but I don't want to be the one who says "stop". I couldn't live with myself if I was the one that told them to stop trying. Cody agrees.
They have to keep trying.

They send gases to the lab again. Compressions still going. They give him doses of different things to try and help his heart start. I can't keep track of how many epinephrin doses he receives.

Christy tells me to go hold his hand.
"I don't want to say it but I don't want you to regret anything."
She holds my hand and pulls me toward the bed. I move in next to the doctor to hold Corbin's hand.
It's so cold.
It takes my breath away and I start crying. I shake my head, knowing in my heart he is gone.

They attach the resuscitation machine to his heart. The doctor motions us back, away from the bed.
There is no loud noise, he doesn't jump off the bed. It's only a low charging noise as his heart receives a dose of electricity. But no heartbeat.
Again, nothing.

The doctors stop, watching the monitors.
___________________ There is only a flat line.

What happens next, I honestly don't remember. I know the doctors came over to us to apologize, give condolences, answer any questions.
I know I'm crying, Cody is crying, the nurse Christy is crying.
I know someone told me that they are going to clean him up, take off all the wires, take out the tubes, close up his chest, and wrap him up so we can hold him.
I know I got hugs, sad looks, and apologies.
I know it started raining.
"God is crying." Cody says.
Thats all I remember.

We leave the PICU, staring at the floor, avoiding anyone who looks like they might talk to us. We head to the waiting room to wait.
Cody starts making phone calls. I pace the room. One second I'm fine, the next I'm imagining my sweet baby and how he was when he was home. Then I think about all the baby things waiting for him at our house and I'm crying all over again.
I call my mom.
I can barely get the words out.
"He didn't make it."
My mom can only say "Oh baby, I'm so sorry."
She doesn't have to say anything. I know she understands. She had a miscarriage when I was about 8 or 9. He was about 4 months old when he died. They were going to name him Elijah.
She knows what I'm going through, there is no need for words.

We go back into the PICU, not wanting to be alone. Turns out when you lose someone, you don't want to be totally along. You want to be around people who care about you.
So we sit at the front desk, talking to the receptionist.
I munch on the fruit that I brought for the nurses.
I joke that I'm going to depress any family that walks through the door. My eyes are swollen from crying, my face is splotchy, and I cry on the drop of a hat. "Welcome to the PICU" I'll say through the tears.
It makes us laugh, just for a second.

They are ready for us.
They have brought a courtesy cart of coffee and snacks but I'm not hungry.
They have cleared out all the equipment and brought in a new baby bed. Its clean, quiet, and empty.
The OR lights have been turned on, shining down on the baby, turning the room a calming, surreal shade of gold.
Corbin is wrapped in a hospital blanket with his own baby blanket over that.
What they don't tell you is that he doesn't look like himself anymore. He is very swollen due to all the medications. His ears have almost closed up, his eyes are very tightly shut, his tongue is swollen and he's not as pink anymore.
I don't want to lie: I'm scared to hold him. I swear I keep seeing his chest rise. I swear he is still breathing.
But I know he's gone. I feel a tinge of guilt for not swooping down on him to hold him. I stand away from his bed, just staring.
I come closer to stroke his head. Most of his hair has fallen out but he still have a little patch near the back. It's still soft. I pull him closer to me. He's very heavy from all the fluids. It freaks me out and I stop. The guilt is killing me.
Why am I not wailing in emotional pain? Why am I not screaming at the heaven's to return my son? How can I be this calm!?
I bend down to be closer to him, wrap my arm around his neck and hug him.
"I'm so sorry baby. I'm so sorry."
I feel like I didn't do enough. Why wasn't I here every night to read him a story? Why wasn't I here more often during the day to talk to him? Would that have helped him through? Could I have done more?
The questions race, one after another. why? why? WHY?
Should we have done the surgery? He looked SO good the day before surgery. Better then he had ever looked. He was awake, eyes open, and a healthy pink color. Maybe if we hadn't of done it he would have gotten better. Maybe it was a bad idea. Maybe we killed him. It was our fault, we should have waited....
I tell myself to shut up.
"Quit blaming yourself, its too late now isn't it?" I yell at myself.
Which only makes me cry harder.
I wipe my tears on his baby blanket. I kiss his cold forehead and lay him back down.
Cody steps in to say his goodbyes.
"I'm sorry Peanut, you gave 'em hell though"
He leaves, he can't stand to stay, his heart is breaking.
I stay, bawling over my dead child.

The doctor told us that Corbin did put up one hell of a fight. He says that he touched many lives while he was there, more then most people do in a lifetime. He says they were all affected by him and were heartbroken to see him go.

Christy tells us that another nurse makes plaster molds of babies feet for the parents that lose a child. She says it will take about 6 months, but the nurse will make them for free and send them to us. Then someone brings up: "What are you going to do with all that breast milk?"
"Well crap, I don't know."
There is talk of a milk bank in Ohio. Or if they don't take it, the Red Cross might. I make a mental note to call them when we get home.
They tell us Corbin's body will go down to the morgue until the funeral home can come get him. They have already called Wallace and Wallace.
I's too soon to be thinking about a funeral. I just lost my baby and now I have to pick out his casket?!
This makes me cry all over again.

We head back to the McDonald house to pack.
We have a lot of crap. It takes me a good 45 minutes to get everything packed and put into the van. One of the McDonald employees comes up to help. She is crying as she gives me a hug.
We first have to take out all the baby stuff from the van. I have collected clothes, a baby tub, bassinet, crib pillows, blankets, and baby items since we have been at the McDonald house.
I don't need it anymore.
"Just put it all back." I tell Cody, he only nods.
I tell one of the staff to put the bassinet somewhere and give it to another family that left before us. They had a preemie and would give me a hard time about stealing the bassinet. They are actually arriving at the McDonald house that day so I want to make sure they can have it.
We say tearful goodbyes to the staff. They have been our family for the past three months. We have spent many nights with them chatting, laughing, and picking on each other. They were truly wonderful people and I will miss them. They made our stay enjoyable despite the hardships.

The ride home is long, and it's pouring down rain. We have two cars so we both have three and a half hours to think by ourselves. I know I broke down about 4 times on the way home. Its not a good thing to be crying, driving, and trying to see through the pouring rain driving 70 miles an hour.

We arrive home.
I walk up to the door, mom greets me with a big hug before I get inside.
I cry into her shoulder, a wave of emotions washing back over me. Cody's dad comes out holding Colt. He immediately jumps from Curtis' arms to mine. I can't help but smile.
God, I love that kid.
I'm smiling and crying at the same time. I cry thinking that he no longer has a little brother. I cry because he doesn't even realize it yet. He's just happy to see his mommy.
I get more hugs and shed more tears, all trying to hold Colt. He won't let me put him down.

The house is (what I consider) a mess. I just sigh. I'll worry about it tomorrow.
I take Colt back into our bedroom and talk to Cody for awhile. We have to figure out what we want to do about the funeral. We are both so emotionally drained, we can only figure out that we want him buried.

I tell my parents about how our day went. My dad cries when I tell him about the books the nurse gave us. They have special books they give to the dad, mom, grandparents, and sibling of a child that passes away. I still haven't looked at them.

We get a few visitors, not many. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't care what I look like, I know my face is still swollen from crying. I chat with Cody's mom for awhile. She also understands: she lost a son too. He was 36 years old and died in a car crash. She takes Colt home with her so we can get good sleep. I feel guilty sending him away but I also feel so appreciative that she is available to babysit.

I put together a memory box for Corbin. In it I put his first outfit, stuffed animals, his book I read to him, a figure the nurse Christy bought for me, and his other belongings. Cody breaks down crying when he sees it. It really means a lot and we make a plan to take it to the wake.

And that's my story of the day I lost my child. The day I went from having two kids, to one.


Unknown said...

Oh Ruth, I'm so so sorry. I know you've probably been hearing this a lot know. I wish there was a way I.could take away y'alls pain. Like b always say I will always be here for, you. I know the next couple of days will be hard and a blur. But he is watching over you. He is your guardian angel, like you are his. You are both such an inspiration. You are an amazing person.i pray your capable of getting somepeace hopefully a couple hours of sleep.

Grace Mahin said...

My heart broke as I read this entry, Ruth. I cannot imagine the loss that you feel right now. When I was born, I was in the hospital for 4 months, so reading your entry was like reading it through the eyes of my parents in a way. God bless you, Cody, and Colt. Corbin is in a better place now and if you need anything, let me know. Lots of love.

Trissy said...

Thank you for sharing, Ruth! I am so deeply sorry you are going through this! I have no words, just love and thoughts sent your way! I have no idea what you are going through, but I know it is rough on you. I know Corbin is watching over you, and he will always be there! You are one of the strongest women I know! You are amazing! I will be thinking of you guys even more in the next few days, weeks, and forever!

sarah said...

I'm SO so sorry Ruth and Cody for your loss! It bought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine what your going through. I do have an understanding of our ws children and what it feels like putting them thru surgery and praying they will cone out of it. Rest in peace baby Corbin. He was a beautiful baby. Xxxxxxxx

camille said...

My heart is breaking. I'm so sorry.

Unknown said...

Your thoughtfulness is sharing the story of your day is amazing - helping each of us to understand a little better what we cannot possibly comprehend in full. You are a wonderful Mom, Ruth and Corbin was an incredible little guy. We will miss him. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

mama to j and bean said...


There are no words to describe how sorry I am. I can't stop thinking about you and your family.

This is a beautifully written entry with so much emotion and depth. You are incredibly brave and I can see where Corbin got his fighting instincts. Thank you for sharing your story and for allowing us to participate in these exceptionally personal and emotional moments.

We "met" because we are both members of the WS family, a community that will stand as a rock for you and a community that will be her for you always. When you are ready, please let me know how I can help.

Much love.

Aislynn said...

Ruth. I know this is incredibly painful. I'm not going to tell you it gets better, because I have no idea. It probably just gets different. I'm so impressed by your continued strength in being able to update us all. Writing seems to be very therapeutic for you; continue it as much as possible. Thank you for helping us grieve with your family. We're here if you need help with anything, as well.

Unknown said...

You have expressed this so eloquently, I could not have found the strength to do this if I had been in your position. I have found your blog via another one of a parent whose child has the same illness. I can't imagine what this must have been like for you, there are no words, but my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Tara said...

Ruth, my heart is aching for you. I'm sitting her shedding tears for your family. Praying for peace and comfort in all the days, months, years ahead. You are an inspiration~

Emilie said...

Thank you for sharing that with us. I know that it probably made you feel just a little bit better to get it out. I also know that the next several days are going to be very difficult, but know that we are all praying for you. All of us WS moms have never met you, but we feel a deep connection to you and Corbin, and always will. I can relate to some of the things you wrote about (getting up in the morning and heading to the hospital, scared to look at the nurses faces, thinking your baby doesn't really look like your baby, becoming such good "friends" with the nurses and people in the PICU), and I have a dear friend who lost her heart baby who was just over 1 year old. I was there when they said good bye to her, and I know that they felt all the things that you are feeling. So you are absolutely not alone. But I can't know exactly how you're feeling, because we got to bring Reese home after her surgery. Although I have imagined and worried about what it would be like to come home without her, I cannot know. But please know that I often think of all the mothers who don't get to hug their babies as I watch Reese, and I do my best to be thankful for every moment I have been blessed to spend with her. I won't take this time for granted, and I will continue to pray for you and your family. Corbin will always be remembered!!

The Lady of the Holler said...

So, so sorry, Ruth. Praying the Lord provides grace and comfort for you and your family.


(Our son Kieran has WS)

Anonymous said...

You are so strong God Bless you and your family, my heart is just breaking for you.


Anonymous said...

Ruth, I am so sorry. I will be praying for you and Cody and Colt in the coming days and months. Your strength is unbelievable. Thank you for sharing the most intimate details of the worst day. My heart is broken for you all. My daughter endured her corrective heart surgery at 7 weeks old. Your story has touched my heart in so many ways.

Praying for you all.

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry doesn't even begin to describe how badly I feel for your family right now. I too lost a daughter suddenly to CHD. It's a lonely, sad world to be in. I want you to know there are others walking this sad road, here for you always.

Summer said...

I am so very sorry. I have been reading your blog for a while and have been praying for you. My heart breaks for you. I will continue to pray.

Devan @ Unspoken Grief™ said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry. Sending much love and hugs to you and your family.

Lori said...

My heart is breaking for you. I have no idea and yet every idea of what you are going through right now and I am just heartbroken for you. Please know that even though I just stumbled across this from a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook, I am praying for you and your family this very minute and am so sorry. Know there are many, many (too many) women who have buried their precious babies and would be honored to be ears, shoulders and hearts for you when you need them. Again, my condolences.

Michelle said...

I'm sure my comment will be lost in the sea of sympathies coming your way, but know how truly sorry my entire family is, for we know all-too-well what this road is like. What this new road and journey will bring to you. All of our love, the Williams Family.

EricandWendi said...

Oh my heart just breaks reading your words! You said it so well and am amazed at your strength to write! I for a change am speechless. I grieve with you and even tho we live miles away, I am sending my hugs to you! Take care and keep blogging so that we can be praying specifically for you as you are family to us. You are an inspiration!

Dawn said...

Hi, Ruth. We haven't met, but I have a son, with WS (age 4), and I have been following Corbin's progress through our mutual FB friends. I could hardly read your blog through my own tears. My heart breaks for you and your husband and I will be praying that you can find some comfort in your loved ones during this terrible time.

Justice For DJ Henry said...

I am another ws mommy... you still have 2 kids, Corbin's spirit will be with you always. I am sure you will see his beauty in everything. God Bless your family. I am so sad for you all. Your strength to be able to write the above is astounding. I wish for that strength to only get stronger as you weather the storm ahead. God Bless. Prayers for you all. Michelle

masliza said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept my condolences and know that me and my family are thinking of you in this time of grief.

I've been following your blog, but never leave any comment before. And I am so sad and sorry to pun my 1st comment this way.

Mary Ellen Mannix,MRPE said...

This is a beautiful love letter to your son. Thank you for sharing it. I am so sorry for your loss.

You will always be an amazing mom to two....

"I no longer see the stars; I am the stars.
I no longer breathe the wind; I am the wind.
I am the sweet smell of honeysuckle after an
Evening rain.
I am the dew on the rose petals in early
I am harmony and I am peace.
I am love.
In sorrow, my mother and father cry,
But they need not fear. For I am strong.
My heart is whole and in union with my soul.
I understand my fate and I smile.
For nature's will is my destiny
And my guide through eternity."
~Dr. Michael Berman, 1990

Shan said...

I only learned about you and Corbin in the past few weeks, but I am incredibly sad for your loss. You are all in my heart.

Airelle said...

You are truely an inspiration to me. You are the strongest person i have "met". My son Carter is a heart baby with WS. Your story encourages me to keep fighting. Thank you so much for sharing i know it is hard. Truely sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

I just read through all of Corbin's days. We "met" after by post about newborn heart defect screening. I have said I was going to come over here and read your story but I am just getting here. My heart breaks for you and your husband. I am sorry you had to go through this. He sounded like a tough fighter! I'll be praying for you each time I think of you.
I also wanted to let you know, they just passed the Newborn Heart Screening into effect here in TN. By sharing your son's story and all the other moms who have had to go through this pain, you are helping save lives. Your little Corbin is making a huge difference!
Love, hugs, and prayers!

Unknown said...

My love,heart ,and soul go out to u today that it has been 3 years of ur loss. As the days and years past ur peanut is in heaven watcing over u guys. He knows how much he is loved and missed by all. He will alway be in ur prayers as he will be in mine love to ur family

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