This past Wednesday Jack turned two years old, which still blows my mind. We celebrated quietly at home, just family. He has been effectively spoiled and fortified with birthday cake. Tomorrow we are taking him to a children’s theme park and petting zoo for a proper birthday outing.
Jack has been in such a sweet mood, almost sentimental for the past several days. It’s as if he remembers all he endured those two short years ago. I am grateful for the extra hugs and kisses and snuggles though.
As I push my front door open, after a long shift at work, I am greeted with an excited “HI!” from Jack as he charges into my arms, jabbering all the while, as he tells me about his day. Greetings such as this warm my chilly little heart after a long day of “customer service.” These giant and verbal greetings remind me of a time when Jack was not so giant or so verbal.
My first mothers day Jack was in the NICU. Jeremy and I arrived that morning, Jacks bed was surrounded by nurses trying to get a blood catheter in him because they were taking blood from him so frequently, and he was still so tiny, he was going to need a blood transfusion ( a bag of blood from a donor) that afternoon. My husband and I stood in silence as we watched the nurses do what only they could until one of them turned around to face us, requesting that we wait in the lounge. Our devastated gaze was making them anxious, and they were already struggling to get the needle in somewhere useful. We obliged, and when they were done, we returned to the NICU to find our baby boy with a plastic needle catheter inserted into his tender scalp. We visited with him while he rested and, I recited my ritual mantra to him; ” I love you. I am proud of you. You can do this. You are the strongest person I know.”
All around us, the NICU hummed with intense daytime activity. After a brief visit with Jack, my husband and I decided to let him continue to rest comfortably. We returned later that night, and my favorite nurse was at Jacks bedside. She knew we were coming in ahead of time, and she had given Jack a bath and put him in his pajamas. Jack was relaxing in his incubator as I lifted his blanket to peek inside. When I opened the little door near his face to say hello, his eyes popped open, the look of recognition on his face was undeniable. “How’s mama’s baby Jack!?” I said as he thrust his hand upward. I gave him my hand, and he gripped my index finger. We stayed there like that for a long time. It felt so good to be greeted by him, after a traumatic morning. Jack knew his mama, that much was undeniable to me, to Jeremy, and to the NICU nurse as well.
With Jack’s second birthday fast approaching, I am reflecting on how far we have come in such a relatively short amount of time. Jack continues to amaze us with his size, his strength, his sense of humor, his personality, his cleverness, and abstract and critical thinking skills, his courage, and his sensitivity, as well as his good looks.