Yesterday I had my 33rd birthday, and I also hit my 36 weeks pregnant mark. Needless to say, this particular birthday has been unlike any other I’ve had.

I feel strong. Yes, every inch of my body aches, my feet are unrecognizable, and I basically need a pregnant lady crane to get upright these days, but I can’t stop looking at my bump. I feel like that bump is one of my best accomplishments in life. I’ve managed to grow a really big, perfect, incredibly wiggly kicker of a bump. I’ve avoided all the stretch mark remedies because I want to see the full progress my skin has made growing that bump–they are my own growth chart. I’m already starting to miss being pregnant even though I can’t wait for this H sprout to get here. It’s going to be strange not to have my constant companion this close. Kicking my iPad off of my belly when I’m watching TV, wiggling like crazy when I’m (she’s) hungry or reading a really great story to the kids at school. In complete honesty I can say that I’ve loved every single minute of being pregnant, even the far from glamorous ones.

Maybe it’s because I’m 33. I’ve lived a solid, full life up till now. This year marks 15 years since I graduated high school, and when I think of all the things I’ve done since that moment marked me as an adult I’m kind of in awe of who that girl with the frizzy hair and terrible eyebrows turned into. I’ve had my heart broken, discovered I’m an artist, lost a parent, stopped biting my nails (mostly), found (more than a soulmate) a real partner in life, traveled to 15 countries, made a home, learned to cook, gotten my Masters, worked hard, put my foot in my mouth more than once, thrown some amazing parties, read untold number of books, gone through 4 cars, moved from North Jersey to the Jersey Shore (that’s huge, people–like crossing oceans), built a career, and (most of the time) figured out my frizzy hair. I’ve taken my time living, loving, and experiencing the whole wide world. So I feel prepped and ready to live, love, and experience the whole wide world as a mom, with this bump about to be fully realized as H Frances Reeve.

So that made this birthday an interesting one. I really didn’t *want* anything, because I’m good over here. I’ve got everything I could possibly, humanly want. I didn’t want to jinx it with Stuff. (I was like this at Christmas, too, hugely sentimental and impossible to shop for). I didn’t throw a Big Event like I usually do. I didn’t run through the halls announcing my special day to everyone; I had a quiet day at work, finishing up preparations for my maternity leave, which is still 3 weeks away since I’m going right up to the end. Adam and I went to the diner for dinner because, really, where else does a proper Jersey girl go to celebrate something? And still everyone managed to pull out some incredibly great and surprising gifts to make it even better. My mom got me a pregnant VT Teddy Bear, Adam got me The World of Downton Abbey and the complete fat quarter bundle of Aneela Hoey’s “Walk in the Woods” fabric collection. My in-laws gave me a Kindle with a fierce pink Kate Spade cover. My brother-in-law Thomas sent over How Baking Works, which is perfect since I’m obsessed with finally learning the science behind baking and cooking. So it was already a perfect day made even moreso by lots of thought and love from everyone.

This weekend I’m going to plan out a quilt for H with my new fabric, prepare for Sunday night Downton Abbey bliss, play with my new toys, and revel in this time before my 40 weeks are up and H gets here.