Ten Years Ago
Ten years ago today, I was driving our car following an ambulance through the congested streets of downtown Denver.
Barely a few hours old, my daughter was the precious cargo in the box on wheels with flashing lights ahead of me. Alone, but surrounded by strangers. My wife was recovering from the birth back at the hospital where she delivered. Alone, but surrounded by strangers.
I was just alone.
My thoughts and emotions providing the only company. The latter of which had become a tattered mess in the time since we left home in the middle of the previous night.
The birth itself had gone well enough, but we were greeted with a new life-altering reality when one of the nurses informed us that our daughter had a condition known as Myelomeningocele.
She guided me over to the bassinet where our baby lay on her side, and lifted the blanket to reveal an alien-looking bulge along her lower back. Her condition is more commonly known as Spina Bifida, and what I was looking at was the sheath that covers the spinal cord protruding from her back a few inches. This is a result of the vertebra not completely fusing during development of the fetus at a critical time of only 3 weeks along.
It was shocking, to say the least. There was talk of using Flight for Life to get to The Children’s Hospital, but then it was decided that transport via ambulance would be the way to go. My head was spinning as I bid a hasty goodbye to my wife and raced to get our car.
My guts were being torn out with a single thought repeating itself over and over again in my head.
I haven’t even gotten to hold you yet!
As it turned out, it would be weeks until we got the opportunity to hold our newborn daughter. After surgery was performed to push the exposed spinal cord back inside and stitch the wound closed, she had to lay on her stomach in the Newborn ICU to recover. Tubes and wires everywhere.
I wanted to pick her up so bad, but I will never forget bending down to kiss that soft little head. Knowing that would have to be it for a while.
Seems like just yesterday. Cliche, but oh so true…
The time since then has gone by in a roller coaster fashion, with wave after wave of sheer terror followed by a sweet release when you realize that things will be okay. After something like 17 surgeries, numerous ER visits, and months of hospital time, I can say one thing for sure. That little girl has thrived.
Had she been born born back in my day, she wouldn’t have survived.
As is typical, I think, of kids with more than their fair share to deal with in life, our daughter was blessed with a certain little extra something. It’s hard to articulate, but she just has ‘it’. She is a charmer with a beautiful imagination, and a knack for making instant friends out of complete strangers. She certainly didn’t get any of that from me, and it has been humbling to see how she deals with others. I have much to learn.
She is my ‘adventure buddy’, tagging along when I head out to explore and take pictures. We have camped out, gone on long stroller runs, sledded down sand dunes, flown kites, caught fish, and climbed mountain peaks.
Her slightly under-developed legs would tire easily, and we carried that kid over some crazy terrain just so we could get out and go do things together as a family. Her mouth never got tired, though. The conversation was endless, but adorable.
I have to say something about our other kids here. That is after I can see again. Just typing that seriously choked me up. Each of them has been such a huge help to us during these last 10 years, and I am truly grateful and amazed at how they have dealt with this challenge in our lives. Quick to serve, and never being jealous of the time and attention taken away from them – they were all blessed with a little extra something as well. Their actions and demeanor during this time are something that I will always remember.
I’m thankful for a lot of things today. Thankful to be Dad to such great kids. Especially thankful for modern medicine, a job with good insurance, the support of friends and family, and the awesome group of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals we have relied on over the years.
Happy Birthday to our baby girl!