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Cooper's favorite color is orange.

And he loves ice cream. And music. And math, statistics, data, sports. Cycling. Writing. Some say he's my favorite (Suzy) but I don't have favorites. Cooper is just Cooper. You can't not love him.

We got our Cooper on purpose. Tim was set to deploy and Thatcher was just over a year and we knew we didn't want him to be an only child so it was now or never.

I was 6 months pregnant on 9/11 with Thatcher and we knew that day that our lives had changed. We knew that Tim would eventually have to go. We watched everything so closely. Colin Powell in front of the UN. The negotiations with Turkey. The training, the preparation. We knew. So when the orders came to be ready, it felt inevitable. They came in February, we got pregnant with Cooper in March.

There was a briefing at the armory in February and I found out that our friends were pregnant that day and I just sobbed because I hadn't gotten pregnant that month. The sadness of all of it leaked out of my eyes while they talked about communication and health care, notifications and family readiness. Sadness because of war, sadness because of 9/11, sadness that they won. Seriously, I felt mad that they had gotten pregnant first. It was my idea. So twisted.

So we got our Cooper on board and then they stood down, no need to go. Turkey had closed the border and that was their way into Iraq so now they got to stay home. Meanwhile, Tim's job was crazy--he had been let go of his forever employer the day after the orders came and had started a new job with Starbucks. It was stressful and it was the first of the experiences that we found out that just because the military works one way and is protected by laws, the actual world doesn't always work that way. I was working full time and traveling still which allowed a lot of amazing late afternoon, evening Seattle summers of playing in the blowup whale pool.

Having a toddler and being pregnant can be exhausting but traveling the nation and putting on concerts while pregnant and with a toddler is exceptionally draining. I resorted to ice cream for dinner many a night and believe that habit has had a lasting affect on Cooper.

One time I was in Dallas for a concert--Live, I think was the band. It was a small venue but we were hosting so I had a great room at the hotel and the hotel was set up as a giant square with elevators in each of the corners. I was on my phone a lot making arrangements so I would walk around the square and when a call ended, I would jump on the closest elevator to go up to my room. It was a couple hours before the show so I was going to rest and change. I jumped on the elevator furtherest from the lobby and pushed my button. The elevator started to move and then stopped. It was stuck. I was pregnant and stuck in an elevator. This was 20 years ago so cell phones did not work in elevators so I calmly pushed the call button and let them know what was happening. I slid down to sit on the floor to wait and discovered that they had just cleaned the carpets in the elevator so now, I'm pregnant, stuck in an elevator with no coverage and a wet bum. Awesome. The fire department was on the way. But friends, there was no way, I was having a baby in Texas so big deep cleansing breaths. I got out of the elevator, made it to the show and baby Cooper kicked along to the music.

On my last trip of the year, we headed to San Francisco for the second ever concert on Alcatraz it was mid October and my doctor needed me to be closer to home since my due date was at the beginning of December. She agreed to the one last trip because she knew it was my crown jewel. And it was magic, the second time was one thousand times easier than the first and I got to enjoy the show rather than feel like I was pushing the show up a mountain. Backstage, I used the fancy portable restroom that was marked band only, only to be greeted as I emerged by one lead singer who pointed at the sign and said--hello, band only. And I pointed to the belly and said, hello, 8 months pregnant. We came to a quick agreement on restroom policy.

The next morning we all woke up in our giant two floor suite at the Hilton. My parents left with Thatcher to go to San Jose for the weekend and Tim and I planned a fun weekend in the city only to be greeted midday with the official orders to go to Iraq. 18 months. 545 days. Leaving in a month. It was October 16. They were leaving November 15. I was due on December 6.

I sat in the living room of the suite in shock. I didn't understand. Thatcher was only 654 days old. How was Tim going to be gone for 545 days. It was the freaking National Guard. And that is a story for another day.

We made our way to San Jose and claimed our child, we would go home to Seattle, Tim would pack and tell his new employer that he was leaving. He would train and prepare. He would record stories each night so that when he was gone they could listen to him read books before bed. He would play with Thatcher and talk to my belly. We were numb.

I remember walking into my doctor's office and telling her the timing and she said, it is no problem. Tim will meet this baby. I've got you. You worry about the rest. And she did. An amnio on November 13th to see if he could be ejected. While we waited to see if the amnio results would result in a baby, I nested as they call it. I made up the bassinet, made plans for Thatcher and took off all the covers from the carseat so I could make sure they were clean for the new one. Thatch had moved into a big boy seat so the black and blue Eddie Bauer bucket car seat was now all for Cooper. I tossed everything into the wash and the dryer and as we got the call to schedule the c-section the next morning I pulled the car seat parts out of the dryer to discover that there had been a crayon in the folds and now everything had a lovely waxy orange glow. It was not awesome. I just couldn't believe it. Everything was orange. I don't remember if we got it cleaned or if we just went with it, but to this day Cooper will report that his favorite color is indeed orange, God bless him.

The following morning, we headed to the hospital, worried nurses in the room looking at the chart not seeing what they expected. He's early, he's small, the lungs don't look ready. Murmurs, whispers, angst. As our doctor came into the room, she smiled at them--and explained--Dad has to leave for 18 months, he's meeting this baby today. They were immediately on board. And he was perfect, little but perfect. Our doctor wrote a note, Tim couldn't leave because I couldn't drive for two weeks. We were gifted two weeks together. It was everything. And his favorite color is orange.

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