I have always been a huge fan of celebrating my own birthday, mainly because it is the only personal holiday you get each year, but now that I have children, birthdays take on a whole new dimension. You see, when you battle infertility and are not sure you will ever be a mother, the day your child is born—and every day after that—truly is a time to rejoice.
My husband and I started trying to get pregnant pretty quickly after our wedding. Within six months, I was diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes. My only hope was to undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF). When the doctor told me this news, my world came crashing down around me. It felt like the worst-case scenario at the time. I was extremely afraid of needles and did not know if I had the strength to endure all the pain, hormone fluctuations, and potential disappointment. Why was this happening to me?
Going through three IVF cycles was a very rough time in my life—as many women like me unfortunately experience—but those two amazing miracles made it to this world and fill my life with blessings every minute of every day. I still look at my children in amazement that they are part of our lives because during that excruciating process my heart was overcome with fear that it would never actually happen. Now my son is seven and my daughter is three.
It took so many steps, multiple doctors and medical tools, and a lot of perseverance and prayer to bring these children into our lives. It is not an experience that I can just put aside and forget about, especially when my children reach another birthday milestone. So, around the time of their half birthday, we start planning their next parties—one in April and one in May. They get so excited to choose a place and theme, and to write their guest lists. I love discovering new, creative ways to celebrate their birthdays and always use my handy tracking spreadsheet to keep the details organized.
When my children blow out the candles on their birthday cake each new year, tears flood my eyes and I am overcome with true joy and awe. I am filled with gratitude that we made it another year together, and that they are even here at all. Did I really create these people who keep growing before my eyes? What will the next year bring?
So, let’s get back to last winter when I realized I would still be recovering from surgery on my daughter’s birthday. I had already booked the gymnastics party for her birthday weekend, and was feeling so stressed about what to do. Thankfully, I was able to move the party to one week later, but I knew that attending it would still be difficult for me given my expected six week recovery time.
I was pretty out of it and in a lot of pain on her actual birthday, but I was home in bed and able to wish her a happy birthday and give her a big hug. I am forever grateful to my husband and parents for making that day meaningful for her even if mommy was not well enough to participate in family time.
After a tough week in bed recovering, the birthday party arrived. I woke up, pushed myself out of bed, put on a nice dress, and smiled through the pain. It was my daughter’s special day and she needed her mommy there. It was not easy, but I participated in her birthday party and played hostess to all the guests as if I was on top of my game.
There were moments when I really did not think I could stand there and be part of the festivities. However, I’ve learned that when you love someone enough and know how important something is to them, somehow you are able to muster up enough strength and just do it.
It is amazing what we are able to endure for our children.
I hope she will remember that day and many more birthdays ahead. Hopefully I will be there with her for a very long time, but no matter what she will always have the memories of these birthday parties and know how much I love her.
Everywhere we turn we are reminded about the fragility of life—from pregnancy challenges to terrorist attacks to heartbreaking stories we hear from friends. Life is so spectacularly precious and truly something we need to be thankful for every moment. We must remember to celebrate the good times and appreciate life to the fullest.
This is why I will never stop throwing birthday parties for my children. (At least until they are cranky teenagers and tell me to stop already!)
Sandi is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in wellness, environmental issues, parenting, and human behavior. She enjoys analyzing everyday life using science, humor, and a passion to improve the world. Her blog, Happy Science Mom, is a parenting toolkit for raising happy, balanced children. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and to learn more about her work, please visit www.sandischwartz.com.
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