Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Birthday Reflections

“Do you know how many weeks you were premature?”

“I was born at 29 weeks.”

“Wow.”  I watched her face ponder my answer.  It took a moment for her to respond, but she finally spoke.  “For how old you are, that’s pretty incredible.  Your parents are…lucky.”

When March 26th rolls around every year, I’m not quite certain how to react.  Like the weather, I can’t decide if I should open myself up to the warmth of spring or retreat in the cruelty of winter.  I’m not sure whether I should celebrate or mourn because….

March 26th, 1984 was a dark day.

My story started not with tears of joy after nine long months of anticipation, but rather quickly through an emergency C-Section in an over-heated operating room.  I emerged into the world weighing just 3lbs. 2 oz.

It was a day when I just couldn’t get enough oxygen to my brain cells; a day that began my life-long journey with cerebral palsy.

The events of March 26th, 1984 served as an introduction to my life where many painful chapters followed:

Learning to Walk


Braces and Physical Therapy.

Chapters where there are no pictures because the journey became internal:





The origin of all of these experiences will celebrate their anniversary today, but if the painful chapters of my life are all I see when I think about the significance of March 26th, then I’ve lost the plot.

Today is the day when despite all the challenges that were before me; I was given the gift of life!

“Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting?”  1 Corinthians 15:55


  1. I love this line: "Like the weather, I can’t decide if I should open myself up to the warmth of spring or retreat in the cruelty of winter." Even though there was fear and uncertaintly attending your birth, I sense God's huge delight in your arrival. May you find the grace to bless your life on your birthday and every day.

    1. Thanks Judy! That means a lot coming from an English professor! I worked hard on that line, so I'm glad it shows! Yes, above all else, I am glad that God is sovereign and that in the midst of everything else, my life was saved and sustained! God is good!

  2. What a painful, terrifying, yet lovely life journey you have been on each year. When I read your post today, I thought of your parents -- what they have been through and struggled with, the love and tears that they have shared with you. You have lived a truly amazing life so far, and I am so excited about what the future has in store for you. Happy Birthday, Jenny! Hope to celebrate with you soon.

    1. Thanks for your comments Emily! I think that my parents have their own journey and story of pain that began on that day, yet redemption, grace, and healing is part of that story too! Yes, let's get together in April! Jenny

  3. Jenny,

    Although we do not talk often, I wanted you to know that I'm so happy you're here despite all the challenges! Hugs!

    1. Thanks Danielle! I'm glad I'm here too :)

  4. Hi Jenny,

    We don't know each other personally, but I just wanted to say Thank You so much for sharing your story through this post. I was born at 29 weeks weighing a little over 2 lbs on April 12, 1985 and diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy called Spastic Diplegia. I can relate to all those emotions you've felt because I have been there myself. These last 27 years have been a roller coaster of highs and lows, but I'm here for a reason and God has blessed me regardless with the gift of life. Kudos to you!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story as well! My understanding is that the survival rate of babies born at 29 weeks in the 80s was around 10% (although I haven't been able to find an authoritative source to back that up.) I think my CP is technically spastic diplegia as well. It's great to know there are others out there like me walking this same journey. Take care, Jenny