Our newly minted 15-year-old has an anniversary every year on Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, you read that right, an anniversary. We love Super Bowl Sunday and in my house it is a really big deal! Let me start by saying that I like football for all the reasons a girl who grew up in the south likes football… because of the pep rallies, the prayer before kick off, the cheerleading, the band’s halftime show, the homecoming parade, the concessions… You know what I am talking about right?- the magic of the Friday night lights. I do watch the game, honestly I do, but I am kind of more into the experience than the actual football. So, why do I get so excited for Super Bowl Sunday? Well, it’s not because of the commercials (although truth be told, I cannot wait to see them!). Please allow me to take you back to fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago, our son was born. Like many soon-to-be parents, my husband and I were the kind where the entire time I was pregnant, we did everything that the book said and more. Eat healthy, take your vitamins, exercise enough- but not too much, no coffee, no wine, sleep on your left side, get a body pillow, talk to the baby, read to the baby, sing to the baby, start your baby book, take childbirth classes, get the car seat ready, walk (a lot) near your due date, especially during a full moon. This was the biggest, most exciting event in our lives and we were so excited when, during that full moon, our son was ready to make his appearance! Much to our surprise, and after all of our preparations, the minute he was born, he was whisked off to the other side of the room, and started receiving all kinds of treatments with suction, tubes and ventilator bags. The glances exchanged from nurse to doctor made it clear that all was not okay. Even though this was our first baby, we knew that we were supposed to be holding our son, snapping pictures, gazing at him and each other in wonder of it all and clearly, that was not what was happening. So, after minutes, which truly seemed like hours, the doctor explained that our boy was not breathing properly and that they were going to take him for “a little while” to help him with that. And off they went. My husband and I sat stunned, not in wonder, but left wondering-how? what? why? We had so many questions and we turned to the only one who could answer them for us-God. We prayed out loud together in that delivery room and each day after that. Our first baby would be spending his first night of life in the neonatal intensive care unit. The nurses in the NICU explained that our son had what was called meconium aspiration, which generally is mild and they expected him to be better in a couple of days. We were comforted by the fact that this was a temporary setback. His little body would recover and he would be the strong, healthy boy we had dreamed of. Well, two days turned into three days in the NICU and it was time for me to go home… after allowing me to stay an extra day to be down the hall from our son, the hospital no longer wanted me. I will never, ever, ever forget the heartache that I felt that day as I got in the car with my husband and had to drive away. We sat stopped at a red light, silent, worried, unsure, heartbroken. I looked out the car window and up at the hospital and felt physical pain at being separated from this child that I had carried for nine months. How can I go from feeling his every movement day and night to going home without him? Why and how can I leave when he needs me most? My husband and I spent hours at the hospital everyday, when we went home we pumped and bagged breast milk to be used when we weren’t with our son. We scrubbed in everyday and greeted the nurses that we had come to know as three days turned into four, then five, then seven and then nine… Every answer to our question of “when can he go home?”, came back as “almost ready to go home, but not quite”. Everyday, the doctors would say “probably tomorrow”. And everyday, we prayed. Then one day, one of our amazing nurses pulled me aside and said she was going to get permission for my husband and I to stay in a special “family” room that we could share overnight with our son. They would be still able to monitor him and we could spend an entire 24 hours with him! Yes!! We were giddy! My husband ran home and got our overnight bags and we settled in for a sweet night with our sweet baby. We finally felt complete and so very blessed. We had been able to spend our son’s eleventh night in the hospital with him and I did not think that I would ever be able to leave him to go home again. Really, I mean it, I did not think my feet would be able to carry me out that door. I kept thinking there had to be a way they would let us stay until he was ready to come home. The next morning when the doctor came in to check on our baby boy, he declared very simply that he was ready to go home! Jumping up and down, hugging, and crying out in glee doesn’t even begin to describe the joy in that moment. Do you know what day that was? Yep- it was Super Bowl Sunday! Sometimes, when the temporary seems too long and the journey too difficult, hang in there. Trust that God has plans for you and will rejoice with you when it is your moment for your own victory dance! So, that is why every year on Super Bowl Sunday, we celebrate the day that our son came home from the hospital at twelve days old. When everyone is getting together with friends and family and celebrating the big game, we are celebrating too, just something a little bit different. It sure feels good to be able to look over at our boy in wonder of it all! Happy Anniversary baby!