Today is my 38th birthday and I've been sick as a dog. The only thing I know for sure is that I've got another UTI—my second in the past month. The strep, flu and Covid-19 tests have all come back negative so far, so we're all scratching our heads. My throat feels like it's on fire and if this doesn't turn out to be strep, it's its evil twin.

I promise I'm not writing for you to feel sorry for me. I'm writing to process what's happening, and really, what's happened over this past year of life. I'm writing to challenge myself to embrace the dichotomy, the irony, of what it means to be sick on one's birthday.

Plus, I've actually found some time to blog.

Chocolate cake

I honestly can't remember if I had any birthday wishes when I blew out the candles on my cake last year. But I do remember the cake—it was a delicious chocolate cake from a local bakery. I am usually team vanilla—funfetti to be exact—but last year I wanted something different. I couldn't explain why, but I knew chocolate was the right pick.

Now looking back over the past year I've lived, chocolate feels like a prophetic choice. Nothing this year has looked or gone how I anticipated or expected. Everything's been a little different.

About a month after my birthday last year is when I got the text about an unplanned pregnancy that led to us getting prepared to adopt. It was an all-consuming process, I emotionally felt pregnant yet I had no idea what would happen once the baby was born. As many of you know, the situation didn't go as we hoped. However, the baby did end up in our care and we're now licensed foster parents.

Had you told me last year on my 37th birthday that on the morning of my 38th birthday, I'd be raising two kiddos, it would have been hard to believe. If you would have told me I'd wake up in a different house, I wouldn't have believed that either. (Spoiler alert: we've moved.) But then again... I wanted chocolate cake last year. Something inside of me knew to get ready for different.

Different. New. Unexpected. Big losses and big gains. These are all good words to sum up the past year of my life.

Being sick on my birthday—the one day a year that's set aside for celebrating my existence—by wearing sweats, sipping Sprite and binging Netflix just seems to fit with this past year's theme.

Back to sprinkles

I've taken it slow today, and tonight I'm sitting back and looking for what there is to learn from being sick on my birthday.

For starters—I've learned, or been reminded that, I am loved. I've gotten lots of Facebook notifications, text messages and cards from people near and far. Birthdays are great for remembering that other people on the planet appreciate that you exist. I'll be honest: Sometimes I do forget. But every year I remember on my birthday.

It's nice to be reminded that my life matters to other people.

Today has also reminded me about how fortunate I am to be married to Mikey B. He had a special day planned for us—complete with a babysitter and couples massages—and he canceled our plans and lounged on the couch with me all day. He picked up food and we watched baking shows. He missed his company Christmas party to hang out with his sick birthday-girl wife. He wasn't angry, upset or frustrated. He simply appreciated the time we got together.

I don't want to ever take him for granted.

Today I've learned that you can celebrate your life even when you feel crappy, but it takes mental strength and making a choice. I've had to override the physical beatdown of sickness and the emotional disappointment of celebrations not going like I'd hoped. When I've caught myself wanting to throw a pity party, I've seriously had to choose gratitude. That's made it a little easier.

That... and the cake.

Another reason Mikey B's amazing? He knows cake is the one thing I need each year for my birthday. This year he asked one of our favorite bakers, Ella, to make a homemade cake for me.

I'm not going to lie... I felt a lot of relief when I walked in the kitchen and saw the flavor: back to funfetti.