I love birthdays.

Mine and everyone else’s. For me, celebrating a birthday is honoring the day that a person came to be, a whole human being that came into existence from seemingly nowhere, and you just can’t beat that.

But when I turned 30, I briefly considered no longer commemorating my birthday because turning 30 meant I was getting older and getting much closer to having to face my own mortality. I hated the thought of dying, as evidenced by the huge dose of health anxiety, previously known as hypochondria, I felt on a regular basis since my late 20s, so anything that reminded me I was getting closer to death had to go. Little did I know that death was closer to knocking at my door than I ever realized.

Nikki by example | www.nikkibyexample.com

Me on my 30th birthday! I love this tiara and have worn it every year since I got it.

I had a heart attack when I was only 32 years old, shortly after giving birth to my beautiful baby boy. I say that hated the thought of dying before it happened, you can probably imagine how frantic and terrified my brain was of death after it happened. My health anxiety kicked into overdrive for several months and even now I feel like I barely have a hold on it. Needless to say, the idea of celebrating a birthday — one more year of life after such a traumatic and scary experience — took on a whole new meaning. Of course I should celebrate my birthday and every other day I’m alive!

Now I plan to celebrate each birthday with great vigor, as it’s even more joyous for me. My birthday this year, which is New Year’s Eve, will be the second after my heart attack, the second year that I’ve had a new lease on life. And that is definitely worthy of celebration!