Campus community celebrates new arrival with administrator's family

Penn State Scranton Assistant Director of Student Services and Engagement Matt Nied and his wife, Cait, recently welcomed the arrival of their second son, Colby Robert Nied. At left is the couple's other son, Ryan, who turns 2 on May 30.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. – The birth of a child is a stressful, exciting and ultimately joyous experience.

Now, imagine going through all of that during the age of coronavirus, as Penn State Scranton Assistant Director of Student Services and Engagement Matt Nied and his family recently did.

In the early morning hours of March 28, Nied’s wife, Cait, gave birth to the couple’s second son, Colby Robert Nied, at Scranton’s Moses Taylor Hospital.

Weighing 8 pounds, 8.2 ounces at birth, Colby now tips the scales at a healthy 12 pounds, 9 ounces. He joins big brother Ryan, who will turn 2 on May 30.

“Overall, Colby is doing great,” Nied said. “He is growing out of his 0-3-month stuff and is starting to wear the 3-6-month clothing.”

Mom and dad are fine, too, although a bit sleep-deprived, said Nied, noting he’s incredibly grateful for the support shown by the tight-knit, and now, virtually connected campus community during these past few weeks.

“The amount of love and outpouring of congratulation emails, texts, meals and gifts were overwhelming,” Nied said. “We are grateful to have this community of administrators, supervisors and colleagues who support us and also don't mind if a nearly 2-year-old or the newborn make a ZOOM meeting appearance.”

Obviously, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic made the lead-up to Colby’s arrival an especially unique and memorable experience.

When Cait Nied went into labor at about 9 p.m. on March 27, Nied’s parents arrived to watch a sleeping Ryan, allowing the couple to “set a personal best travel time” from their home in Tafton to Moses Taylor, Nied said.

By the time the couple reached the hospital emergency room, it was about 11 p.m.

“This was stressful all by itself, because you don't know if there is anyone in the ER waiting room that has COVID,” Nied said.

After Cait gave birth to Colby at 1:02 a.m., hospital administrators suggested that Nied should remain in the couple’s suite. That meant no outside food, which disappointed Cait, who had been looking forward to a gyro from a nearby food truck.

Luckily, though, the best friend of a campus staff member is a dietitian at Moses Taylor and was able to give the Nieds a choice of three first-class dinner options – New York strip, stuffed chicken or lobster.

“I went with the New York strip and my wife the stuffed chicken,” Nied said. “It was exactly what we needed after a long few days. We can’t thank her enough for this!”

Nied said the hospital’s physicians and nurses were terrific to deal with, and, because of the virus, the couple was allowed to take Colby home a day early.

Since then, it’s pretty much been the four of them. Both sets of grandparents have been over to see the baby, but they had to refrain from kissing, holding and doing all the other things people naturally want to do with a newborn. 

“As time has gone on, we really wish we could utilize our parents’ numerous offers to come watch and help out, but we keep declining as there still isn't a lot of data on the coronavirus and babies and children,” Nied said. “Facetime and ZOOM have been amazing for introducing Colby to family and friends, and we try to ZOOM with our family once a week.”

Despite the lack of visitors, the Nieds have settled into a comfortable daily groove with their newest member.

While attending to Colby’s needs, the couple has also made sure to make Ryan feel special with gifts and plenty of daddy time out in the yard, whether it’s playing in the sandbox or going for rides on the tractor.

For his part, Ryan relishes his new role as big brother.

“He couldn't be more proud of Colby, and we’re looking forward to when they can play together. We think they’ll have an amazing relationship,” Nied said. “And Ryan is a big helper. He’ll bring Cait things that she needs, like burp cloths or blankets. When Colby cries, Ryan says he needs a new heinie, or tries to console him and says, ‘I know Colby, I know.’ He also follows us to the changing table and tells us we need to put powder on.”

Overall, it’s been a great bonding period for the family, and Nied acknowledged it will be an adjustment once the stay-at-home orders are relaxed and he eventually returns to the campus.

“Partly, I feel there will be a sense of relief that we are all back in a normal routine -- but I think we will look back not too far after normalcy returns and relish the days, weeks, months we had together as we welcomed Colby home,” he said. “We look at this as a blessing. We would never get this much time together and, although stressful at times, that time together has proved to me amazing for the bonding of the boys together, for the bonding of our family together, and for us to adjust to the new addition.”