“What was your most memorable birthday?” I asked some of my family members last week. I loved hearing their answers. Then, since my in-laws always make sure I feel loved—they asked me.
I paused because I’ve had the worst and the most amazing birthdays possible. Trust me, I’m not exaggerating….
Zeke was born in 2002 and died in January of 2003–in fact, his viewing fell on my 20th birthday in February. People who came to the viewing, told me “happy birthday” AND “sorry for your loss” all in the same d*mn sentence. I appreciated their kindness, but I just wanted my baby back. And after seeing his cold, stiff body in that casket, I swore I’d never like my birthday again.
When I got pregnant after Zeke died, I prayed God would give me a sign that I’d never have a baby die from birth defects again. That same day, I saw a double rainbow for the first time in my life.
Yet, seven years after Zeke’s death (when I expected my last baby), I worried. Contractions started well before my due date…. Maybe I’d gotten stressed and sad on the anniversary of Zeke’s death. Despite the double rainbow and how much doctors told it would “be okay,” fear still crept in.
“I have to push,” I whispered to the nurse around 11:30 p.m.
“You’re not dilated that far, sweetheart,” she said.
But the terbutaline hadn’t worked, and my little girl actually SLID OUT onto the hospital bed! Luckily the (shocked) nurse caught her.
I’d always wanted to name a kid Indiana because of the famous “Dr. Jones.” And after my little girl’s brave entrance, no one argued. “Indiana” has been an adventure ever since.
A half hour after HER birth, we celebrated MY birthday on Groundhog Day. I’ll never forget that afternoon; tons of nurses crammed into my room. They carried cake from the hospital cafeteria. And as I held my gorgeous—healthy despite prematurity—girl, the medical staff sang happy birthday.
After they left, I gazed down at my precious baby and pondered how diverse life can be. If I’d time-traveled to that exact moment seven years prior, I’d be at Zeke’s viewing… Yet, there I sat in the present, experiencing a miracle—one of THE BEST days of my life—as I cuddled my birthday gift from Heaven. It honestly felt like a parallel universe, but I realized it was just the dichotomy within time itself.
People ask me how I can handle cancer and my diagnosis so well…. It’s because life is cyclical. One day might be good while the next will hold challenges. Sometimes, no matter how bad it might be, you just have to stay hopeful and “wait it out.” I’m not scared of the cancer anymore. Not really. It will either take me or it won’t. God has a plan. I might as well have fun in the meantime!
So, I’m just grateful to still be here, enjoying life with the people I love. And today on little Indiana’s 12th birthday, I’m so grateful for her in particular. That little adventurer has brought unimaginable joy into my life!
Happy birthday, baby girl. We all love you so much! 💓
To another year filled with adventure,