By Crystal Hayduk
The music from my clock radio began to play, announcing the new day. Could it be that time already? Nights seem so short during pregnancy, between frequent trips to the bathroom and difficulty finding a comfortable sleep position. As I struggled to roll out of bed, my 13-year-old daughter came into my room and kissed my cheek. “Happy birthday, Mommy,” she said brightly.
Fatigue had stolen from my memory that this day was special, but Jessica’s greeting reminded me. Today was my fortieth birthday and tomorrow my baby was to be delivered by a scheduled Cesarean. For these reasons, I had purposed in my heart to treasure this day.
The first hour of the day I listened closely to Jessica’s eighth-grade tribulations and watched my husband as he mysteriously went about preparations for the special dinner he planned to make that evening.
After their departure to school and work, I headed for the bathroom, realizing this might be my last uninterrupted shower for a long time. I took advantage of the hour before my 4-year-old daughter awoke to contemplate this milestone birthday. Although middle-aged by society’s standards and elderly by obstetric standards, I was blessed to be carrying new life. Months ago, I had laughingly told my doctor, “I’m only as old as I feel.” She responded with, “Your eggs are still thirty-nine.”
As I went about my morning chores, listening to soft classical music, I pondered life’s mysteries. My back ached and I felt heavier than I ever had in my life. But I reveled in the sensations of squirming and twisting that were evidence of the miracle I was participating in. I knew this was the last time I would feel this way, and I wanted to remember it.
Soon Katie was awake. After today, she would become a middle child. We spent the morning reading books and playing dolls. Katie helped make my birthday cake – chocolate, of course. As she napped after lunch, I meditated on God’s faithfulness throughout the worst of our family’s recent difficulties. During the previous year my mother had unexpectedly passed away, my brother experienced a devastating injury, and I had a miscarriage. God had blessed us with determination, stamina, resources, and physical and emotional healing.
Our family spent the evening delighting in each other’s focused attention. We savored the steak dinner my husband prepared, and thoroughly enjoyed the empty calories of the birthday cake. The girls had trouble falling asleep as they wondered if their new sibling would be a boy or a girl. I ended the day with last-minute packing, musing over my sense of serenity at turning forty.
December 2, 2004 was refreshing because I appreciated each moment. It was an intentional choice made by a woman whose joy in the present is often lost in busyness or concern. That day taught me that peace and renewal can be mine whenever I choose.