When I was expecting my son, a friend shared a photo on her 36th birthday, cradling her 36-week pregnant belly. “36 weeks in 36 years,” she poetically captioned it. While I loved the idea, I can’t quite steal it and post about 40 weeks in my 40th year.

I turn 41 this week and still have about two weeks to go.

Had our first transfer been successful, I could have (theoretically) completed 40 weeks of pregnancy in my 40th year. But it was not to be.

I’m reminded of 2008, when I ran my one and only marathon, the Flying Pig, here in Cincinnati. Soon after completing the Pig, I learned that the Omaha Marathon in my hometown would take place later that year on my birthday. If I could maintain my fitness through the summer, I could run 26 (plus that pesky extra 0.2) miles on my 26th birthday.

In my head, I’d designed the custom running shirt I’d have made to let the crowds know of my feat. I imagined a short feature in the lifestyle section of the local newspaper, a fluffy human interest piece about the girl returning home to run on this momentous occasion. If only my birthday also happened to be on the 26th, I could have hit the trifecta!

Alas, that was not to be either. The threat of tearing my meniscus put my plans literally and figuratively on ice. In reality, I spent the summer post-Pig walking with a crutch to help the damage heal.

If you had asked me on that 26th birthday how I thought I’d spend my birthday 15 years later, I’m certain I would never have guessed I’d be feting the day with a nonalcoholic beer and a 38-week-pregnant belly.

If you had told 26-year-old me just how much longer it would take to meet the man who would become my husband, and how much longer after that, (and how much heartache and uncertainty) it would take until our family felt complete (and yet never really complete), I expect I’d have been quite demoralized.

Would I have had the fortitude to forge ahead and pursue any of it, had I known how long it would take? Or what it would cost, both financially and emotionally?

Looking at my darling son, who fits in my lap a little less well every week as my daughter nears her arrival, I hope so. And, despite it all, I’m grateful life doesn’t always go along with our best-laid plans. No matter how headline-worthy we might think they are.

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