Jan. 1, 2018, is a New Year’s Day one Hays family never will forget. Chas and Jennifer Thompson’s second son, Oz, was the first baby of 2018 born at Hays Medical Center.

The 18.5-inch baby boy, born at 34 weeks gestation and weighing 5 pounds, 12.6 ounces, was given the name Oz as a nod to the classic film “Wizard of Oz.” For the family, he symbolizes hope and the beginning of great things for a new year, Jennifer Thompson said.

Oz is a “rainbow baby,” meaning an infant born to a family following miscarriage or infant loss.

“We thought Oz was a fitting name for him,” she said. “We had talked about the name, and then one evening I was laying in bed thinking about it, and I go, ‘Well, he is our rainbow baby.’ And I went out and turned on the TV, and Trisha Yearwood was singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ And I’m like that’s it. That’s a sign.”

Oz has an older brother, 2-year-old Cub, and was born at 3:16 a.m. New Year’s morning. The baby likely will remain in the NICU for up to two weeks due to being born early, but is in good physical health, the family said.

The Thompson family also said they are grateful to be reunited, as Jennifer had to spend nearly a month in Wichita due to pregnancy complications and the possibility of a preterm birth.

A routine ultrasound in early December revealed Jennifer had a short cervix, resulting in an air ambulance flight to Wesley Medical Center. She remained hospitalized for several days, but was instructed to remain in Wichita with family until she reached 34 weeks gestation.

Chas Thompson is the head wrestling coach at Fort Hays State University and needed to stay in Hays to work and care for the couple’s older son.

“I was down there for about four weeks, and literally the morning of the 31st, I drove home,” Jennifer said. “I was allowed to come back to Hays because we were going to be 34 weeks on the first, and I started having contractions with him on the way home from Wichita.”

By the time she reached Salina, Jennifer said she realized the contractions were getting serious. She arrived home at noon and attempted to slow labor at home, but was admitted to the hospital that evening.

The couple became parents of another boy several hours later. Other than feeling tired, Jennifer said she is recovering well and thankful to be back in Hays with her new family of four.

“It’s always scary to hear ‘NICU.’ You always think the worst with something like that. … We didn’t get to really see him right away or anything so that was kind of alarming to a new mom,” she said. “But I think overall, we’re just really happy and we’ve had such great care here. (HaysMed staff) are so good about telling us what’s going on and what the next step is, so we feel real fortunate.

“We’re excited to be home and be one big happy family,” she said, adding with a chuckle: “Until the next toddler phase.”