Dana blogs at Feast After Famine where she writes about everything and nothing at all. Doctors once told her she was infertile but now she has four children. Apparently, doctors aren’t as smart as they think.
When I turned 30, I wanted to usher in my new decade on an adventure in the mountains of western North Carolina by myself. It seemed brave, raw, daring. Everything I wanted to be as I transitioned to a new stage of life.
Instead, I hid in the comfort of a well-appointed log cabin near the Tennessee border with my husband, crying over our second miscarriage and still hemorrhaging bits of a short-lived pregnancy.
Kent may have sang “Happy Birthday” but I doubt I joined in. There was nothing happy about it.
A decade passed, marred by repeated heartbreaks, upheaval, hard work and a catastrophic accident but blessed too by four children whose very existence still boggles my mind.
I stand on the verge of 40 with a wholly different perspective than when I prepared to greet 30. Back then, I was a newlywed, cub reporter and recent world traveler still intoxicated by love and filled with unbridled optimism.
But my 30s? They broke me: five miscarriages, a failed adoption, a bike accident that sent my brother to Shock Trauma where he fought for his life for seven months, a big move to a new city, four children, premature menopause.
I fractured and split, then shattered into a million jagged pieces that I only recently started to collect from the floor. I’m piecing things back together with duct tape and determination and now I’m looking ahead to 40. When I plan an event so brave, so raw, so daring it makes my solo backcountry camping trip look like a stroll down the promenade.
In April, two months shy of my birthday, Kent and I plan to tackle a Tough Mudder event on a mountainside in Pennsylvania. Billed as “Iron Man meets Burning Man,” the challenge unfolds over a 7-12 mile course that includes slogging through mud pits, carrying logs up hills, scaling rope walls, running through burning bales of hay and jumping off planks into freezing water.
I hyperventilated just reading the suggested training schedule.
It sounds insane even to me but it also feels exciting. It fills me with terror and yet makes me want to ROAR! It’s a birthday present to myself. A way to celebrate my strength, my grit, my partner. An adventure to remind myself what I learned in my 30s: I’m one tough mother.