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Why Your Birthday is not just Your Birthday

The day you were born was a big day. When you were a small child, did you have a modest get together with your family and a few close relatives? Or did your parents send out party invitations and invite all your friends to your house to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Hot Potato before enjoying your delicious Cinderella sheet cake? Did you have a more extravagant party? Maybe your parents hired a clown, a magician or even a pony or two and decorated the whole house inside and out? Or perhaps everyone was invited to meet you at Chuck E Cheese’s, a bowling alley, miniature golf or the amusement park?

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And as you grew older, did you tell everyone that it was your birthday? Were you announcing it even a few days to a week before? At school your teachers, your classmates, the kids on the playground, they all said “Happy Birthday” to you. And at work? Does everyone celebrate you on this day? Is there a cake with candles for you to make a wish? And when you get home? Does your spouse make it a special occasion with an intimate dinner for two? Or do you prefer your favorite restaurant where the waiter might sing as other diners turn their heads with a nod and a smile? Some of you might even take the weekend off and enjoy a road trip, or if your birthday is a milestone, you might throw a party for everyone you know.

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It’s not just your birthday. Think about this for a moment. The day you were born was a big day, but it’s not just about you. Perhaps you think it is because your parents told you this was your magical day, but there are others that feel your day is their day, too. This idea may not have occurred to you, and that’s perfectly all right, but can you guess who might be thinking that this day belongs to them, as well? How about the person who gave birth to you. This is a day she thinks about all the time. And not just on your birthday but at other times when something will remind her of all the emotions — excitement, joy, worry, pain, concern— she felt on this day.

On my daughters’ birthdays, I think about how they were both born early and were very sick. One was only two-and-a-half pounds and almost died. She had to stay in the NICU for six weeks. And I was sick, too. I was put in the ICU overnight and never saw my baby until over twenty-four hours later. And when I was able to be wheeled down to the NICU to see her, I was afraid of what I would see — — all those tubes and wires are frightening, especially to a mother who was hoping for a pink bundle of joy. My second daughter, four-and-a-half pounds, was rushed into isolation and stopped breathing. In order to have these two precious babies, I was in and out of the hospital for almost four months each time. I still haven’t forgotten my fear for them and for me, and I don’t know if I ever will. So while the day of their births are their birthdays, for me it opens deep scars that have never fully healed. So please don’t just think of yourself on your birthday. Think about your loved ones who contributed to this day. Be generous to them, and honor them, as they honor you.

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If you’re interested in reading about Amy and Olivia’s difficult beginnings, read:

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You can read more stories by Danna Colman here.

Writer and copyeditor. “What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about” ~ J. Wright

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