Birthdays are to celebrate life. It’s to remind us of the day we came into this world and the beauty that has surrounded that life ever since. But let’s face it, we all too often look at birthdays as a reminder of getting older and losing another precious year to the fight against time. I’m not sure when we switch from celebrating to dreading birthdays, but I know it has to be somewhere around my age (34) when we realize our age has started to show a wee bit, and perhaps we aren’t as agile or youthful as we used to be in our 20’s. And so this year I am standing up and shouting to the world, “I want to celebrate life!” I have special reason to this year. Five years ago, May 24th, I gave birth to my first baby, a girl who we named Madelyn. She was born only hours before my birthday which fell on May 25th. It was a pretty good day to celebrate being alive, when you get to gaze into the eyes of your own child – a part of who you are. And almost every year for four years I brought life into this world. In all I gave birth to four beautiful children. Each of them holding a part of who I am. Being content and at peace with the life you have, means to accept the things we can change and the things we cannot change. So when faced with a special opportunity to make change, I jumped at the chance to be apart of something wonderful. Choosing to surrogate always seemed to be in the cards for me. From the time I met my first surrogate years before I had my own children, to the day I met Frank and Norm, I always seemed to be drawn into the idea of helping someone make their own family. I was able to enjoy being pregnant and had very successful births, complication-free, even with twins. So what made more sense when I was done having my own children, then to help another deserving couple. And our journey brought us round circle to my 34th birthday. A day I also turned 20 weeks pregnant with their miracle baby. I wanted to celebrate it with my friends and family, but I also wanted to bring those in my life to meet Frank and Norm and some of the special people in their lives. So I began to imagine this party in my head. But the topper was that at 20 weeks pregnant we could know the sex of the baby I was growing. I couldn’t resist planning a big gender reveal as part of my birthday. So last Saturday, May 25th, people from all over united to celebrate life with us. I met new people for the first time, saw old friends from College, local family and friends, other surrogates, and so many more. We had food galore, beautiful cakes, sweet gestures, and amazing gifts. And at the end of the day we stood in front of a refrigerator box, decorated by my kids and I, and watched Frank and Norm lift the lid and discover that their unborn child was going to be a BOY! Blue balloons flew out of the top of the box, creating the kind of smiles only a real miracle could. It was a precious moment for everyone who came. It brought tears and joy to the happy Dads-to-be. As their surrogate, I couldn’t have been prouder. In a world that we all sometimes take for granted, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be part of something greater than myself- to be humbled with simple smiles that carry such meaning. I get to bring a life into this world that isn’t my own, but will still always be a part of me. And I wonder if this baby will ever fully understand the love that has brought him into this world. Will he realize that he brought two beautiful souls into my life that I will always cherish? And with those two men came so many more beautiful people, each of which hold a special place in my heart. Thank you to all the amazing people who came to celebrate life with us. It was made special because of all of you.