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April 15th, Tax Returns, and a Beautiful Boy


As Americans focus on filing their taxes on April 15th, a mother reflects on a family journey and a gift so much greater than a tax refund.


DelGandio Kids
Olivia, Zach, and Ethan

While most Americans woke today thinking of filing their taxes and hoping to get a refund, I woke thinking of the joyous celebration this day holds for my family. Five years ago today, April 15, 2006 my husband Michael, our children Zach and Olivia, and many extended family members and friends lovingly welcomed a new little miracle to the world. Ethan had been long awaited and prayed for.

Lauren and Michael DelGandio
Lauren and Michael DelGandio

Michael and I had been married for 14 years and had certainly experienced life’s ups and downs. The births of our first two children were among the most incredible moments we shared. Two subsequent pregnancy losses, painful and late, shook us to the core. There were even moments we wondered if we could see each other through a grief so deep we could hardly share it.

So on that Saturday afternoon, as Ethan made his grand entrance into the world we dripped with tears of joy. He was here and he was healthy.

The first few weeks are a bit of a blur, as most new parents could attest to. There were sleepless nights, early morning doctor visits, a readmission to the hospital for jaundice and the ever present demands of regular family life and a seven year old sister and eleven year old brother who needed mom and dad too.

When Ethan was seven weeks old, an unexpected medical discovery rushed us back to the hospital for emergency surgery. The shock and fear threw us into auto-pilot, we were too overwhelmed to face our emotions. I believe in many ways that became our way of functioning for the next few months. Exhaustion, anxiety and fear went unspoken as we went through the day to day motions of life.

On April 15, 2007, as we celebrated Ethan’s first birthday, Michael and I made sure his birthday party ended in time for us to get to the PAIRS class we were attending at our local YMCA. Missing the session just wasn’t an option. In the few weeks we had been participating in the program we had found a way back to each other, letting down the walls that we had thought were keeping us safe.

It had all begun in the first session of our PAIRS class when we learned the Daily Temperature Reading (DTR). We began to appreciate each other, share new information, clarify puzzles, share concerns with specific recommendations for change, and let each other into our wishes, hopes and dreams. It seemed such a simple and logical way to stay connected and nurture our relationship, yet how would we have known? The many practical skills we learned had quick and tremendous impact in our lives but I think the Daily Temperature Reading has had the most lasting impact for us as a family.

Just last night, the night before my beautiful boy would turn five, I was reminded of the incredible journey we have been on as a family. I sat down at the dinner table with my amazing big-hearted husband, my sweet natured 16 year old firstborn son, my divine, giggling 12 year old daughter and Ethan, four years and 364 days old. My precious, beautiful boy, so full of light said “Let’s say what we appreciate!” And so began our family DTR.


Daily Temperature Reading