There’s a magnet that hangs on the side of our fridge. Most of the time I don’t notice it, or process that I’m seeing it. It’s been there a very long time, through two moves and almost fourteen years. The magnet is a little purple teddy bear and has our surname underneath the bear. It was the magnet we sought out each morning as we entered the NICU. It told us which pod, room, and bed our son was in. We looked for that magnet every day for ninety-three days. When Big Man finally came home, the last thing his primary nurse handed us as we walked out the door was that magnet.
I did notice that magnet this morning. It stung for a second, then took my breath away. It represented his progress and regressions through the NICU. Putting it on our fridge at home meant we were finally a family under one roof. I could have taken it down by now, put it away in his baby book or memory box. I prefer it where it is….on our fridge. Not that I need any prompts for remembering his beginnings and how far he’s come, but I like having it in plain view.
In a week, it will be Christmas Day. My kids will be up early, anxious to see what Santa has delivered while they slept. They will open their stockings upstairs so we have time to get some coffee and prep the camera, and then they will thunder down the stairs. The morning will fly by in a flurry of gift-opening. They will go see their friends in the neighborhood and proudly show off their favorite gifts. Later in the day, we will head to my in-laws’ for Christmas dinner. At some point in the day, I will make Big Man put on the shirt my father-in-law gave us the day we came home from the NICU. It’s a shirt he puts on every Christmas Day for a photo by the tree so we can show how he’s grown year after year. And in the middle of it all, I will be remembering that Christmas Day we brought our baby boy home, after waiting and watching and praying for over three months.
I remember standing in the Christmas Eve service at church the night before he was released. I could hardly breath with anxiety and anticipation. I was terrified something would happen during the night, again, and we would have to wait even longer to bring him home. It touched me profoundly. Tears rolled down my face that night as the candles were lit and we sang Silent Night. For the first time in years, I struggled to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, so full of excitement and hope for the next day.
Our baby has been home for almost fourteen years. He’s never been back in the hospital. We never had to have another magnet to find him. But I keep that teddy bear magnet out, where I can see it, and remember.