To my baby, on your first birthday

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My darling baby boy,

Today you are one year old. A whole year since that exhausting, frantic, world-changing day when you entered our lives. Today you are a man. Oh no, wait. That’s what you say when it’s your Bar Mitzvah. We still have twelve years until that whole deal. For now, you are still a baby. Officially a toddler. Just saying that word, “toddler,” makes my heart hurt a bit. Weren’t you just this wee little thing curled up on my chest five seconds ago? Please stop growing so fast. I’m not ready.

How amazing it has been to watch you change every day, learning and exploring and discovering. So much development packed into one year. You’re crawling now and so curious about the world around you. I love watching your little brain work as you try to figure out how to shut your bedroom door (a glimpse into what is to come, I’m sure), or how to take an object from one spot and hide it somewhere else (usually in a pair of shoes). You have turned the mundane into the extraordinary. I could sit and watch you all day. For the most part, that is exactly what I do.

The beginning of our time together wasn’t easy. Let’s face it, we were both miserable. You cried all the time. I cried all the time. You didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep. We threw ourselves a pity party and it felt like the party would never end.

But then it did end.

A cloud lifted and we both decided, hey, this is kinda great. You saved your first smile just for me when you knew I so desperately needed it. And then you laughed, and that was pretty much the end of me. You know that feeling where you’re somehow sad and overwhelmingly happy at the same time? When you feel so much emotion that you can’t even describe it? That’s how I feel when you giggle. Your infectious howl shoots straight through me. How did I create this magical little being? Sometimes I swear I must be dreaming. To be this lucky. There’s a really corny saying: After every storm comes a rainbow. Or something like that. You are the most spectacular rainbow after a really nasty storm. Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate your many vibrant colours.

As I was going through another round of “what do I want to do with my life” recently, I asked myself, if I found out that I didn’t have a long time to live, how would I spend the time I had left? And the answer was so clear: I would spend it with you. I’m already living my dream life. You are it, baby boy.

I dreamt about you for so long, even when I was worried the dream might not come true. And now that you’re here, you are so much more than I ever could have imagined. I won’t say I didn’t know what happiness was before you came into my life, because that’s kind of a silly thing to say. But I will tell you that I’ve never known this particular kind of happiness. I’ve never felt a more pure sense of joy than when you look at me. Like I am your whole world. Guess what? You are my whole world. You are everything.

What is it that I love about you? I could go on forever, and the list would be much too long. I love your wild head of hair that makes strangers come up to us wherever we go. I love how you scream with glee and crawl to the door when your daddy comes home from work each day. I love that you’re sensitive and gentle with others, without me having to teach you to be that way. I love all the silly sounds you make; they are the sweetest sounds I have ever heard. I love your toes and your fingers, and watching those fingers wrap themselves around mine. I love your kisses, when you finally give in and plant one on me. I love how you make even grumpy people in the grocery store smile and laugh. You’re already making this world a better place and you’re only a wee baby. I think that’s pretty special. You are pretty special.

Sometimes my mind wanders way into the future, and I imagine all of your firsts. First day of school. First sleepover. First best friend. First crush. First love. First heartbreak. So much of life ahead of you. But none of that right now. For now, for a little bit longer, you are still my baby.

Actually, scrap that.

You will always be my baby.

Happy birthday, baby. How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.

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Looks like I made it

Tomorrow is August 9th, also known as my birthday, and also known as the day I turn THIRTY.

Yes, my friends. Little ol’ me who still gets mistaken as a high school student is turning the big 3-0.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember one of the first (of many) frantic thoughts that flew through my head was, what if I don’t live to see 30? I made it my mini goal, to “make it” to 30, because it seemed like a realistic amount of time to still be alive.

And whaddya know – I am alive! A pat on the back for me for being able to check off that box.

I am so happy to be turning 30 and say sayonara to the 20’s. Do you know how many Facebook posts I have seen of people crying and whining over their 30th birthdays, acting as if it is some sort of tragic occasion? So many. And I always want to yell at those folksΒ and remind them that there are many people who are not fortunate enough to see their next birthday, and would gladly trade places. I said it last year, and I will say it again: getting older is a privilege. Getting old is my DREAM. When I think of being truly “old,” I get all weepy, because I worry it might not happen for me. This might already be my “old” stage. I have no idea.

But for now, I am content with having made it through another year, and having pushed my way into another decade. What a glorious thing. I don’t know what my next goal age will be. I’ve been really scared that I won’t make it to 40. So I don’t think I’m ready yet to think that far ahead.

In fact, no goals right now. No wondering about next year, or the year after that. I made it to 30. And that’s something worth celebrating. Another year, and I’m still here.

Happy birthday to me!

**Same deal as last year — If you feel like giving me a birthday gift, please donate to my team and support breast cancer research and programs at the Princess Margaret. Do it! It’s my birthday!

29

Greetings from Jamaica! The sun is shining, and I’ve eaten my weight in food, and I am so very happy to be here.

I assume that that sentence will be true by the time you are reading this post. I, in fact, am cheating a bit and am writing this post in advance of my trip and scheduling it to appear while I am gone.

If I have done this correctly (and it’s very possible I have not), today should be August 9th. This glorious date is also known as my birthday. The big 2-9. Happy birthday to me! (And a one-day belated happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, best sister in the whole wide world. I love you sissy!)

My birthday cake from my 21st. Thanks mom!

This birthday feels like a pretty significant one for me, as I say goodbye to twenty-eight. It was right after my birthday last year, at this time, that I found a lump in my breast and my entire world changed after that moment. Twenty-eight was a hard year; a year filled with many lessons, challenges, and triumphs. I’m sure for most people, twenty-eight is not necessarily a particularly significant year in their lives. Eventually all the years start to mush together, and become periods of time or life-stages, rather than an individual 365 days. But in my case, I am quite confident that I will never forget the 365 days of being a twenty-eight year-old.

I think many people who have had cancer would say that birthdays take on a new meaning after you have been diagnosed. They truly do become a celebration, and an accomplishment, rather thanΒ just another year. I have noticed that most people view getting older and aging as something to fear, and something they don’t want to face. It seems everyone makes comments and complains about how old they are getting, or how much they’re dreading turning 30/40/50/60, etc.

I am no longer part of this massive majority of humans who fear birthdays and wish for eternal youth. I dream of getting old. I dream of turning thirty. Occasionally, if I’m having an overly optimistic day, I may even dream of what it would be like to be forty. Forty, right now, sounds ancient to me. I wish I could be forty right now, and have 11 more years under my belt. And if I’m really fantasizing here, I wish I were ninety right now, with all the life experiences one is supposed to have had. Ninety, with cancer. Still not ideal, but I’d take it over twenty-eight, with cancer.

I think getting older is a gift. It’s a privilege, to make it through another year, and have your health. It’s not a given, and it’s not your right. With each birthday you are fortunate enough to celebrate, comes a certain amount of luck. I feel very lucky to get to have another birthday, and to be able to share it with the person I love most in the world, while sitting on a sunny beach. I’ve earned this day, and I’ve struggled to get here. And now that I’m here, getting older never looked so good.

Here’s to twenty-nine, and the dream of thirty.

If you’d like to give me a birthday gift, please help fund breast cancer research, which is the only gift I really want. Thank you!