Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hi guys,

May the New Year be amazing for all of us!  I am happy to look back on 2015 with nothing much to report:  nobody died, nobody got born, nobody died getting born either.  A good, quiet, content year.

In two more days, I will be remembering Adrian's death.  For me, the New Year will always be linked with his loss.  At the same time, I am recalling how in December 31, 2009, I was lying in a hospital bed on complete bedrest, eating store-bought trifle from a plastic cup and a sandwich for dinner (as the kitchen staff went home early that day, presumably to cook and eat better things).  This recollection, far from making me sad entirely, brings me peace that I AM NOT THERE nor will I ever be again.  It was so awful a moment as to trigger eternal gratitude for its passing.

So, what is on the menu tonight?  We had bison ribs with home made barbecue sauce, and a phenomenal risotto (mushroom and parmesan) that I could not stop eating, as well as a white cake which was a bit dry.  By the way, my New Year resolutions must include, among other things like losing weight and not washing my face with hand soap, learning how to make a fantastic moist white cake. Feel free to give me your recipes, that is if anyone is still reading.

Much love to everyone.  Will try to post in two days. Happy New Year!!!

Friday, November 27, 2015

what comes after infertility?

I was shocked to see that I had a comment yesterday, as I seldom do, unless you count spam, which sadly gets filtered out...The comment hinted that I was a bit more self involved and not as happy with my situation as I should be, given that I now have two kids and hence I should not be focusing on other aspects of my life (like running or playing piano), or experiencing negative feelings such as frustration, or sadness.

The writer had not had children yet, and was still battling infertility.  I understand oh so well how one thinks in that position.  I was there, and one does not forget.

One pictures a future that has one radiant child, or maybe two, and the love that surrounds them permeates the vision.  There is nothing in that vision about daily life, brushing teeth, getting the flu, etc, you get the idea.

Conversely, when picturing a future that has no children (I was really good at this one!), one sees grey and black and empty, sad days, surrounded by other women who have what you want and do not seem to be as grateful for it as they should be, or as good a parent as you would be.  A world full of daily irritation and emptiness emerges as the main picture.  However, there is no room in this vision for the good things that might happen from day to day, such as dinner with your partner in a beautiful setting, travel that might bring one joy, deeper relationships with other adults, or a dog that loves you and you can run with every morning.  I don't know.  Something positive will happen, but I sure as heck did not see it as part of this vision.

To put it more succinctly:  you cannot know how the future will unfold, whether you do or do not have children.  Visions of the future took up 95% of my brain function during my infertility years, but most of those visions were lacking the awareness that they were snapshots, not reality, and that they lacked the substance and the emotion of daily life that actually coloured the snapshots.

That being said, I am immensely grateful to have Emma and Daniel.  I pray daily and thank God for this unimaginable good family that I was blessed with.  I love my children deeply, and wish that I never got frustrated with them, and that I were a better mother every day.  Do I succeed?  So far, not really, as the writer astutely noted.  All I can do is stay true to my feelings, write about them, and hope that with daily work I become the kind of mother that deserves Emma and Daniel.

Ultimately, whether I deserve Emma and Daniel actually does not matter all that much though.  What matters is that I love them enough to inoculate them against any mistakes that I make.  Children are resilient and as long as they are loved, they do just fine.  That should reassure all of you mothers out there that also struggle with being imperfect, occasionally frustrated, and occasionally focused on yourselves.  We will be alright, and our children will be alright.

Thank you so much for commenting.  As you can see, a comment prompts a post.  Want to see me post more?  (insert wink).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Daniel is swimming

Yep, my little boy decided that it is ok to put his face under water, and next thing I know we are jumping in and retrieving toys off the bottom of the pool.  He is turning 2 at the end of March, so I guess his chronological age is 1 year and 7 months.

Today I tried to put Emma's skates on his little feet to see if he can balance on the blades, and yep, he did not want to take them off.  In fact he got quite pissed off.  The skating rink is a prime space for tantrums, as he is very frustrated by a whole bunch of things:
- mom makes me wear mittens
-mom is not making the zamboni miraculously appear whenever I ask for "car, car, car"
-Emma and all the other kids are zooming by on their skates and I am just toddling on my boots
-mom is putting these silly bobs on my feet but they are obviously not skates and I do not like them
-big kids are playing hockey too close and too fast for my taste and they freak me out
-I am cold but still don't want to wear my mittens
-Mom makes me go home and I clearly am not ready.  Even though I am freezing cold and hungry-cranky-tired.

He has so much character, and if I am not exhausted, I actually find him pretty funny in a very endearing way.  However, lately I am running in the snow, and as a consequence I feel exhausted on my running days, with bone-deep tiredness and aching, headaches from the bright light, and lots of questions about why I keep on doing these crazy outdoor workouts when I have a perfectly good treadmill and a running track (the answer: because it is so beautiful outside, and winter is 8 months long around here, so I have to get out).  So I am occasionally too tired to laugh, and sometimes too tired to abstain from out of control yelling at my kids.

My number one thing to work on: stop yelling at the kids.  I rarely do, but when I do yell at them, it is obviously on days when I am very physically tired, and hence it should be a predictable, maybe even preventable occurrence.  My number two thing:  lose 5 lb of Halloween candy fat.  Number three:  get acclimatized to the snow again so that I can start feeling more human on my run days.

Things are improving since Daniel is not taking an afternoon nap as well.  He used to wake up very cranky, and not get out of that mood for many hours.  Now he is good natured all day long.  He also used to go to bed at 10 pm, keeping me awake way past my bedtime (which is often 8-9 pm when I am very tired).  Now, both kids go to bed at 7:30 pm and I even get some time to blog or play piano, which is so amazing to do again.  I can never play when Daniel is awake, because he comes to sit on my bench and wants to play as well.  Now, I am fantasizing about perfecting old songs, and learning some new ones.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


A few things have happened in the past month to make me recall the pregnancies that I have started to forget.  Firstly, I did a one month rotation in obstetrics, something that I had stopped doing about two years ago.  I felt as if I relived some of the more terrifying moments of the past few years.  I could identify all too well with the low grade nagging anxiety that accompanied all the prenatal visits of the high risk patients.  I felt like every obstetrical complication was familiar to me, a bit too intimately.  And I could also feel the overwhelming relief at the thought that I will never have to go through that again.

Secondly, one of my patients had an abruption at around 22 weeks and went into labour.  I relieved some of the agony of losing Adrian then.  She went on to viability but lost the baby after a few weeks in NICU, and her dazed grief gives me a deja vu feeling that is almost hard to manage.

Thirdly, and likely as a result of the above, I decided to read Ghostbelly, probably because I felt that I could take a closer look at my own pain through Elizabeth's words.  Aside from feeling acutely her agony of trying to decide whether she should have or could have done anything to change the outcome (I think that Adrian would still be alive if I had been pregnant in Vancouver, where anatomy scans are done at 18 weeks, as I had asked to do, and not at 20+ weeks as I was scheduled), the book, of course, made me remember.  I remember the loving peace that I felt holding little Adrian's body, mothering him for the brief time that I had.  I remember looking at the sky and seeing the ice in the air glitter, my senses also unusually sharp and aware.  I felt the pain that she described, at one point so acutely that I decided there and then to close the book and never look at it again.

I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to look too closely at this pain.  I live fully, I have living children that need me, and I think about Adrian all the time with love and longing.  At the same time, I have peace about him, and about my past, about the way things were.  This peace can sometimes be broken scratching the surface of the painful scab.  Is it worth it?

I have no doubt that sometimes my subconscious mind will prompt me to reading books and blogs that will make me re-experience the past.  However, I also know that I do not have the same need to re-experience as I did before, when I had to make sense of the events and hence could not avoid it.  It can now be laid to rest and woken up gently once in a while, when my subconscious tells me that it is time to do so.  In the meantime, life goes on...

Monday, September 21, 2015

A life off balance

I am currently living a life that feels very unbalanced, and I am not just saying it to justify my 21 day absence from the blog (especially after promising not to disappear).  I have started a training program in order to revisit my old OB skills and start applying them again, i.e. attending to births.  It is hard to describe how many hours per day are consumed by this program, but I am guessing that at the moment it is around 10-12 hours, plus multiple commutes daily (some of the work involves going home and coming back to the hospital at all hours of day and night).

This is taking place in Vancouver, where I chose to be in a smaller hospital that would remind me of my home town, and that is within 15 minutes driving from my parents' house.  I brought the kids, and the nanny, to stay here as well, but despite having them here with me, I don't think that they are seeing as much of me as they need.  They are still little, and they are used to me being their primary caregiver, despite the fact that I work about 30 hours per week.  Back home, a lot of those hours are in the evening, and on weekends, and so the daily average is still pretty low, between 4 and 6 in general.  They hate it that I am away from them.  I hate being away from them.  I am struggling to complete this program, and feel that I cannot stay longer than another week, although I initially was going to be here for another week and a half.  I think that I might just skip the last three days, particularly because I am ready to say screw it and give it all up.  Both kids have colds, and diaper rashes, and they fight more than usual, and they cry more than usual and I generally have a harder time interacting with them in a semi-civilized manner in the evenings because they are very prone to fits of temper.

We barely have time to wash and get dressed in the mornings, and to read a book and have dinner in the evenings, with very little time to go anywhere because I am constantly on call and may have to go back.  Swimming in the city is nothing compared to the beautiful and spacious pool that we have back home.  It is crammed with kids, and lessons, and there is not much room to enjoy life, although I do take them swimming sometimes.  I, on the other hand, did not have any chance to swim in the past month. I was able to run this weekend, and got my mother quite upset in the process because she thought that I should have stayed home with the kids and not taken that little time off to myself.  No, she did not have to watch the kids, my husband was looking after them, but that never stops a mother from being disapproving, as we all know. (However, I had not run for eight days, which is forever for a regular runner, and I needed to go, so go I did, even though it was pouring rain.  Best. Run. Ever.  Except that I got to hear it from my mom for a few days afterwards and also I now have shin splints, which is what happens when you only run once a week instead of every other day).

Anyway, I am rambling.  I miss my kids is the bottom line.  I have no idea how people can live with seeing their children only for a few hours at night.  I hate the wasted time in traffic, and feel that my moments with them are shortened by a hundred red lights. I am counting down the days until I finish this gruesome schedule and vow to not undertake such an endeavour anytime soon, although I shudder to think that someday I might need to work this way to pay for my living expenses, which is what I am noticing that more and more people have to do, with expenses going up and wages staying roughly the same.  I would like to know how other mothers cope with full time work and commute in the city, if anybody wants to share.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It has been a century

I miss my blog.  Over the course of the week, I have realized how much I miss having a place to write, and think, a place of my own for self expression and for generally documenting my thoughts as life goes by.

I have not updated here for so long that when I tried to log in, I realized that I forgot my password.  I then reset my password, logged in, and my blog had disappeared!  I thought my, that is a bit harsh, I go away for five seconds months and look, my blog is deleted off the face of the internet.  Then I figured out that hey, I am logging in with the wrong email.  Duh.  In my defence, I am not as smart as I used to be after having the kids.

My blogging time got eaten up by exercise time.  That is because for some reason I have decided that it is now time for me to start getting into some serious athletic shape, after lying in bed for the entire pregnancy with Daniel (and with Emma before), and after never being able to compete in any running or triathlon races due to never ending IVF madness.  After Daniel, I have finally felt that my body was back to normal, my own to operate and shape in any way I want, and I the first thing that I did was to get insanely fit.

I have run two half marathons this summer, one of which was a long mountain race that kicked my butt.  I run 35 km per week, swim with the local masters group, and do cross-fit.  My body is stronger and faster than ever before, even in my twenties.  However, all this takes time, specifically 6 am time,  so there goes my quiet blogging moment.

Regardless, I am in need of writing, and so I will have to find a niche of time somewhere.  I am impressed to see that the blog still gets traffic, I have to admit that it is nice to not be talking to myself over here, but at this point I feel like I would write even if I talked to myself.  Writing allows me to observe the world in a different way, to connect my present with my past, and to use my brain in a way other than pushing myself to run uphill six times more than I'd like.

That being said, creating blogging time will be tough.  I will have to see where I can steal it from.  As it is, Daniel is busy trying to plug a lamp into the outlet, so I have to interrupt constantly to chase him away from the power outlet, lest he plug his fingers in accidentally (or on purpose).  Emma is typing on my keyboard simultaneously with myself, so I have to delete gibberish.  And oh, now Daniel is typing too.  I had no idea that it was keyboard skills class.

And now Daniel pooped in his diaper. I really have to go...for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

At the end of Mother's Day

I find it hard to say Happy Mother's Day today on this blog, because I know that the women reading it (assuming that anybody actually is still reading:) often are not yet mothers, or they lost babies and hence the word "mother" is filled with pain and grief.  Despite that, in real life I blurt out Happy Mother's day to everyone around me (even to a male police officer-don't ask), assuming that everyone is happy to celebrate like I currently am.

Currently.  There was a time when this day was up there on the list of bad days to survive through.  I recall a time when there were women with children and babies all around me, and not a single one I knew was struggling the way I was.  I remember feeling singled out, pitied, unworthy. It was not so long ago...

I wonder if there is anything that I could say today to the woman that I was back then, with the life experience in between then-me and now-me.  It would likely sound like this, stripped bare of all embellishments:  Life is what it is.  What you see now is what your reality is.  Accept it.  Hope is good and necessary, but even more than hope and living in a dream about the future, make the most of what you have been handed today.  Try to limit the amount of time spent feeling sorry for yourself, and ask yourself what you can do now to life today to the fullest.

I know that, although I am happy and fulfilled today, the future will bring more pain and loss.  It always does.  I hope that when it does, I am strong enough to remember this principle.  Make the best of what you have today, and do not linger in the self-pity party.  Go on and life might bring on more joy.

Luckily, for me it did, and after all that loss, there was a day like today, when MrH, Emma and Daniel took me to a restaurant for dinner and I had a chance to look at my living children (I even brought Adrian's urn too) and to feel immensely blessed.  I know that today is the day that we thank mothers, and I did thank mine, for doing a great job of loving and caring for us.  However, even more importantly for me,  I gave thanks to my children today for coming into my life and making me a mother.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday Daniel!

My sweet little man has turned one today!  Here is a picture of him eating his birthday cake
I am seriously in love with my children, but my love for little man is growing and growing as he is getting older and cuter.  He likes to give kisses with an open mouth, nice wet ones, and he likes to put his head on me to rest (any part of my body will do, as long as it is momma).

He is pulling himself to stand, and climbing up stairs.  He tries very hard to go down but has not yet figured out that he needs to turn around.  I would estimate that it will take him a few more months for that kind of discovery, based on what I remember with Emma.

On most days, I cannot believe my luck that I have these two small kids running around the house and driving us crazy.  I mean hello, I am supposed to be infertile hahaha.  In fact I really really am infertile now.  I did some spring cleaning and came across a packet of sanitary pads, which I happily gifted to my friend.  I feel very free without the stupid uterus.  Thank you Daniel for this unexpected bonus that your birth has brought me :)

I am not writing quite as much because I am incredibly busy with work and exercise.  I have become very fit, fitter than I have ever thought I would be in this lifetime.  I just ran 15.5 km (9 miles?) Saturday, and the fun thing is that I do it every Saturday, and have been doing it throughout winter, in the snow.  It is now a fair bit easier actually not to have to fight the snow with each step (we are just going through the melt, and the roads are clear).  If you told me I would be doing forested trail runs in deep winter at -35C I would have laughed, but I did, and I will continue to do them.  I swim twice a week, 2 km each time, and I run three times a week, for a total of about 30 km right now, but increasing steadily each week towards 40 km. I just got my bike out too, and will road bike soon.  I am preparing for a triathlon olympic size in July, and for a half marathon in the mountains in August.

I love being so active, but I would never have been able to do it without my husband's support.  He truly believes that I need time to myself, and has figured that if I exercise I am less anxious and worried, which is a double reason to do it.  MrH has been a wonderful support during this past year, and during my whole marriage to him.  Having two small kids is no small feat, even though we love them more than life itself.  He has done it before, and knows how to put it into perspective for me.

What a year this has been!  one year ago, little Daniel and myself were struggling for life, and now we are thriving and happy and surrounded by love and support.  Thank you God! that is all that I can say.   And hopefully many more of these wonderful years will come.

My son, may you grow to be a good man, an honest, kind, generous and loving man, the way that your father is, and the way that I try to be (minus the man part I mean).  It is a huge joy and honour to be your mother.  You were the last embryo, and honestly took me by such happy surprise when you implanted.  The fact that you are healthy and happy and smart and everything under the sun today is proof that amazing things happen in life.  I hope you will carry this thought with you wherever you go (and of course don't go too far from momma, my love).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I have been attracted towards minimalism more and more since we have had children.  I made a few mistakes with over purchasing in my past life, and now I am trying to destash everything.  I have gotten rid of shoes today, clothes over the past two days, sheets when we moved two years ago, towels ditto, books in two stages, when we first moved here and also in the past week.  It is like spring cleaning but with the goal of halving all of my possessions.

I took an entire bin of toys out of Emma's room and I don't think it was even noticeable.  That being said, she has the least toys out of all the kids I know.  Most of her stuff is educational materials, like puzzles and blocks.  She has about four stuffed animals or so, and only one Barbie which I did my best to hide (it was a gift).

My kids have only four drawers of clothes (Emma) and one drawer (Daniel) total.  Emma's clothes are bigger so they take up more space.  That being said, I still have three strollers and one bike attachment.  Crazy, huh?  One stroller is a single jogger, one is a double jogger, and one is a high seated Stokke which I love for walks as Daniel can see much better and be closer to me.  I think that the Stokke will be the first one to go, but the joggers will have to stay, since I sometimes need both (like when I actually jog with the kids).  The single jogger I use when travelling, as it folds up very easily.

I also have a total of 25 pairs of shoes, and three runners (metal spikes, trail and flat).  We do have a lot of seasons here, and I need office boots, very warm boots, mud boots, elegant heels, the full gamut, because my life is pretty colourful like that.  And, despite culling my sweaters FOUR times, I still have 15 sweaters.  On the other hand, I have TWO t shirts (one white and one brown) and two short sleeved tops for work.  Summer is brief, what can I say.

Please tell me how you gals have reached simplicity, if you have.  It is a never ending struggle, but I am getting better as time goes on.  I think that with most of my possessions, it is a matter of thinking about each and every one to make sure that it really is pulling its weight.  So far, some things have not, but they are in great condition and classics, so I am waiting until something else hits the dust to put them into heavier use.  I know that it is not the way to destash, but on the other hand it makes me feel safe to have them as backup.

I suspect that this is the feeling that I need to work on, eh?

Monday, February 9, 2015


aHere I go again, not blogging for a whole month.  It seems that life is taking me very fast and I am not swimming fast enough to keep afloat.  In the past month, I have become about 200% busier, at least at work, but also at home.  The nanny had to take some time off for health reasons that came by surprise, and I had to scramble to find another nanny, a lady that has a two year old, and that initially left my house quite messy, creating yet more work for me when I got home, on top of pacifying the kids and making dinner.

I also kept busy with exercise, especially with outdoors running.  Winter running is a unique sport around here, as we run on trails not accessible at all times in summer (bog conditions make them...boggy, and mosquitoes, bears, and other friends chase us out of there).  I ran this morning at -30 C and did not even cover my face, just the chin a bit.  After 50 minutes I felt a bit of frostbite starting to tingle on my face, but by then I was home and did not get any skin burn.

If anybody wants to know what we wear when we run, it is not a lot of extra layers, just a pair of thermal long johns, one pair of lined Lululemon studio pants, smart wool socks (one pair) and Solomon snowcross trainers with metal spikes for good traction.  On top, one long sleeve thermal T shirt, one turtleneck (mine is an old cashmere one) and a studio jacket from lululemon too.  I would wear any of similar weight.  One hat that cover ears, and one neck warmer (that I only started wearing recently after a friend gave it to me). Mittens. That is that.  My iPhone wears a hand warmer to stay warm, but today it died anyway.  The shoes are the most important part.  As long as one keeps moving, one is warm anyway.

I also stated doing weekend and one in four days call at work.  Call lasts 24 hours during the week, and 72 hours on the weekend, and we get called at all hours, so depending on what happens, it can be very busy.  This weekend, the nights were especially busy, as I had to go in at 1 am, and got woken up randomly about once an hour.  And so did the kids who sleep with us in bed.  Crazy life, eh.  I forget how crazy it is when I don't do it for a while, and then I start again and it hits me how this is our normal.

Daniel is trying to type, so I will let him express himself:

How did he get the Greek characters?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Adrian's 5 year aniversary

It has been 5 years since the day I gave birth to Adrian.  I pulled out his card that joyfully states in blue letters "It's a boy!" and remembered with a twinge how much the cheerfulness of this card hurt me back then (it still does).  It clearly states the time of birth, 10:08, and the birth weight, 409 g.  I know these details by heart, although funny enough I don't know when my living children were born, or exactly how much they weighed (well, ok, Daniel is easy to remember 'cause he weighed 2.000 kg, how can I forget that one?).  It is not that odd, because for Emma and Daniel I have so many more details to remember:  their first days, their first smiles, their first teeth, the crawling days, their baptisms, and just about endless hours of joy spent together.  For Adrian, all I have is this blue card with the stupid birth announcement and the cruel exclamation mark.  That, and his foot prints, tiny and perfect. This year I will post a picture of them, as I love them so much more than the fuzzy ultrasound paper that is starting to darken already.

That's all I have of him, folks!

And, by God's blessed grace, I have two living children who were there with me today when we lit Adrian's candle and said a prayer that he be in Heaven with God, that our love may reach and envelop him, and that we meet one day.

PS.  At dinner today, Emma was very excitedly telling MrH about how mommy had a baby named Adrian who died when he was born, and he is with God, and is flying with wings (that part I never said anything about actually), then about how some mad people burned him in the oven and he died (sorry about that, I obviously did not explain cremation very well, she wanted to know how he got into the urn and I made the mistake of giving too many details, as I was not prepared for that one).  I did correct her and said that no mad people were involved, that Adrian was surrounded by loving people the entire time, and that he was with God when his body was burned to fit into the urn, but I would clearly say that if you get asked this question by a 3 year old, reconsider when mentioning anything about cremation as it is much too graphic and hard to soften as an idea.

I also told her that he died because he was born too small, and that she was luckily born very big and strong.  She seemed pretty happy at the end of the conversation, and I know she will mention the idea again if she does not get it.  Like when she first asked me why Elsa's parents died (in Frozen) about twenty times.

Here I am, posting about Adrian's anniversary only to write an entire paragraph about Emma.  Adrian, your sister is smart and funny, and very inquisitive.  She keeps me busy.  Your brother, Daniel, is getting ready to keep me even busier with his exploratory bent (he is a man, he wants to move, and to find out all about the physical world around him).  I wonder how much you might have looked like them, and decide that the answer is A LOT, since they look a lot like each other.

I was very blessed to have such a rich life so far, my sweet little boy, and I did live it to the fullest, as I have promised you I would.  For you, for me, and now for them too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year

A happy New Year to all my blog friends, and may this year bring joy and fulfilment of your wishes, whatever they may be, particularly those related to pregnancy and childbirth.  May all of the ladies pregnant right now have healthy term babies, and may all of those struggling to conceive have great news waiting in the following months.

I have a few resolutions for the new year, which are remarkably similar to previous years:
-pay attention to my children, educate them myself as much as I can, perhaps teach Emma how to read (if she becomes ready along the way during 2015)
-be patient as a mother.
-continue to exercise intensely, like I do at the moment
-definitely lose the 15-20 lb that I am still carrying in excess.
-blog weekly
-play piano at least three days per week, preferably closer to 5

I have started a low carb diet again today, and will keep going until I am at goal weight.  No better day to start than today.

We had a little party on NYE with six adults and seven children, a lot of happiness, rack of lamb, white and red wine, too much tiramisu and juice on the carpet, you know, the works, all at the time when MrH was on call and had to go out and come back a few times.  Fun, fun, fun.  Emma and Daniel were fast asleep by midnight, but we got to see fireworks just one block away, and it was beautifully festive.

I know it is easy to forget about NYE, especially when holidays frequently remind us of sad times.  In  2009, I spent the entire time from Boxing Day until Jan 2 in the hospital, trying to (unsuccessfully) hold onto Adrian, whom I lost on Jan 2 (tomorrow is his anniversary).  I could choose to focus on that sad day, and not notice that NYE and January 1 also bring with them tremendous renewal, energy and promise, in a special way that only beginnings can.  We only get 80 of these days if we are lucky.  I might get another 40-50 if I am in the lucky category.  I plan on not letting any of them escape uncelebrated.  Bring on the rack of lamb, the friends and the joy, because even though at the back of my mind I vividly remember spending this occasion on a hospital bed, today I am happy and healthy, and so is everybody I love.  Thank you God!