Can you remember your favorite birthday growing up? I actually can’t remember a favorite because I loved so many of my birthdays. I remember having a “water” birthday when I was 6 or 7 where all my friends came over in swimsuits and we played with water balloons and sprinklers outside. And I remember my 10th birthday when I got my ears pierced then had a slumber party. All my friends brought over sleeping bags and we watched 101 Dalmations with a giant projector on the wall of my living room. I remember a surprise party when I turned 15 and a big birthday celebration with all my friends before heading off to college. Up until a few years ago my birthday (and Christmas!) was my absolute favorite time of year.
In my mid-twenties something changed. My birthday started to loom over me as a sad reminder of the passage of time, highlighting all the areas of insecurity and disappointment in my life. Life hadn’t been the exact way I wanted it to look and I was acutely aware of everything I hadn’t yet accomplished in my time on earth. The later years of my twenties began to sound “old” and all of a sudden adding another digit to my age wasn’t quite as exciting as it had been a decade or two earlier.
A particular challenge of my birthday has, of course, been focused around my desire to grow our family. Every year for the past several birthdays I have confidently declared that THIS is the year I have a baby, only to face the reality that not only did I not have a baby, I wasn’t even pregnant 365 days later.
During this time of infertility I have put a lot of arbitrary deadlines on myself, namely that I had to be the mom of a baby by the time I was 30. Truthfully, my original deadline was much earlier than that, so never did I imagine I would actually make it to age 30 without a child in my arms.
Last year my plans changed. We realized we needed to press pause on treatments until Andrew (and his sperm) could recover from a procedure. I remember looking at the calendar, counting out 9 months, and realizing I was going to miss my self-imposed 30th birthday deadline.
Cue the tears. So many tears. This journey is hard enough already, and I made it so much harder on myself by trying to “accomplish my goals” within a timeframe that I simply didn’t have control over. As recently as a few months ago I told someone that even though I didn’t end up having a baby by the time I was 30, I still wanted to be pregnant by my birthday. Yet here I sit, days away from the big 3-0 and on injections for a retrieval IVF cycle (translation: VERY VERY extremely unlikely to become pregnant right now) and wondering why on earth I’ve put so much pressure on myself regarding a specific date that holds very little significance in the long run while I’m in a situation that I truly have no hope of ever being able to control. What a bummer.
And so, I’ve changed my tune. I’ve stopped dreading this transition into a new year and started truly embracing it. I’ve decided to CELEBRATE my life and my time so far on earth. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself to meet deadlines that are out of my control and instead start expressing gratitude for every wonderful thing that has happened in my life so far.
All of that started with an early birthday trip to Vancouver with Andrew last week. After years of struggling to plan fun trips because of time constraints with IVF treatments we decided to just go for it and book a trip to Canada. I told Andrew that I wanted a stamp in my passport for my birthday, so that’s what we did!
Gosh it was so much fun! I am so so happy I decided to celebrate this season instead of mourn the loss of everything I thought my life would be. Believe me, I’ve done my fair share of mourning, and I think it’s often incredibly appropriate and necessary to grieve along the way in this process, but there’s also a time for celebration in this season as well. This is my time to enjoy and celebrate!
I have so much to rejoice in as my twenties come to a close. I’ve served people from all walks of life in my job as a nurse. I’ve built an incredible relationship with my amazing husband. We’ve dared to brave the journey of IVF on six different occasions. Together, we’ve made 3 healthy embryos and are going to get a chance to bring a few home soon.
For the first time in a long time, I’ve let myself get excited about what the future holds! We’ve dreamed and prayed and planned for our upcoming years in our 30s, and I can tell you- even though I don’t know everything that lays ahead- I know the One who does know. I know that His plans for me are for GOOD and not for calamity- they are plans that give me a future and a hope! My thirties are looking BRIGHT- and that, my friends, is reason to Celebrate!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
P.S. This trip to Vancouver will go on my top 10 birthday list for sure! Andrew and I had such a refreshing time together, ate amazing food, and went on some wild adventures! Here are a few pictures from my (early) 30th birthday trip!