Thankful for Chloe: Mother explains her daughter's path to overcoming birth defects

LOVELAND, Colo. - The first thing you notice about Chloe is her energy. Perhaps more than most children her age, Chloe Cooper is full of life.

"Chloe has always had such a strong spirit," said the three-year-old's mother, Jennifer Cooper. "Chloe loves her life."

But you don't have to look too closely to see something's not right.

"Everywhere we go people look.  People stare. As her mom, I know she looks different," Jennifer said.

Chloe was born on April 20, 2009 without a jaw, without ears and with a myriad of other severe medical anomalies.

"We chose to let God decide what would happen to this baby," Jennifer said. "She was on life support for the first two and a half years of her life."

What followed was a dizzying blur of surgeries - 11 so far. A hole in the girl's trachea allows her to breathe, while a hearing aid and sign language help her to communicate.

Chloe took her Thanksgiving meal through a tube, a process that takes about an hour.

The surgery her mother hopes will make the biggest difference was done by a doctor in Cincinnati. Bone from Chloe's shoulder was implanted in her chin to form a jaw. The other side will be done in April.

There is an abundance of hope in the Cooper family. They know she is going to get through the surgeries and eventually be ready to eat normally, speak and to go to school.

"Her brain is completely normal," Jennifer said. "I can't even believe how smart this child is."

To be sure, it's a difficult life.

"You just take what you get, you know, life . . . changes every single day.  And you never know what life has in store for you and you just take what you get and you try to look at it in the most positive way you can," Jennifer said.

Chloe's name, her mother said, means "blossoming."

"She's my gift.  She's a gift and I'm very lucky that I was chosen to be her mother."