The First Ten Years

Double digits is a major milestone for every kid.

On April 26, 2006, my wife gave birth to our first child, a daughter we named Lydia Kathleen Allen. It was a welcomed beginning that also marked an end to the most trying period of our lives.

Everyone wants healthy children. “Ten fingers and ten toes,” expecting parents say when they don’t want to answer honestly about which gender they’re secretly hoping for (for the record, I wanted a girl).

But Lydia was born with spina bifida, and needed surgery on her first day of life outside the womb to close an open spinal cord. We were prepared for much worse, because our doctors thought it could be Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, or something similar. The truth was they just didn’t know, which at times was equally terrifying.

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