today is my birthday

stephanie klein purple

I’m 34. I was scared about the idea that I was nearing 35. But now that I’ve slept well and and have awoken to flowers and birthday cards, things seem brighter. Before falling asleep, I told Phil I was nervous.


"Because 34 is closer to 35, which means no more babies." I realize, of course, that plenty of people have healthy babies well after 35, but I’ve never quite loved the fact that "35" is that marker of a number–the one that determines likelihoods and in my mind is associated with chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. I am my father’s daughter, a needless worrier.

"Can we discuss this in the morning, please?"

"Yes, baby."

Of course there’s nothing to discuss. It’s not that I want more babies–I don’t think I do. It’s the idea that if I wanted to have another baby, I’d have to decide that soon. Basically, I’m getting older, and as that happens, it seems our bodies start to limit our choices for us. 

The good news?

I’m going to paint my toes a shocking color today.

I will smear my name off a cake with my pinky and wear it on my nose.

My babies will sing me the Happy Birthday song–for once on my actual birthday!

There will be cream cheese frosting, and I will eat more than one slice.

There will be twirling. And candles. And ribbons. And photos. And memories.

I might even wear a dress.

We’ll have a fancy romantic dinner at Hudson on The Bend, where all toasts will be made in my honor.

I will go to the movies!

I will read the babies Fancy Nancy with a fancy voice.

And because I repented for all my naughty sins yesterday, I will start the year off clean, without apologies, without regrets.

But the really good news is that I’m a year closer to wearing purple.

A YEAR AGO: Birthday By the Bushel And A Peck
3 YEARS AGO: Reversal of Fortune, With Two Cats in the Yard
4 YEARS AGO: Wine, Raisin Bran, & Radishes



  1. Happy Birthday! Mine was Sunday and I’ve been saying the same thing, “only a few years left to have babies”. Worrying about this and that is what Libras do. We can’t help it when the scales tip! Have fabulous day!

  2. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! The day you’ve planned sounds amazing, I hope you enjoy every minute of it and don’t worry too much about “ideas.” Happy 34th!

  3. Happy birthday!! Cream cheese frosting (insert Homer Simpson mmmm here). I’ll be 48 in 2 months and am no closer to dressing in bright colors than I have been since I’ve been able to choose my own clothing (Barbara, why black? Black is for funerals! No one’s dead! Yet.) Maybe it’s funereal, but black and other neutrals are much much kinder to the aging face than reds, purples, etc.

    I’ll add my 2 cents to the SAHM debate. IMHO, full time parenting is roughly akin go watching grass grow, except that grass can’t ask you the same damn question for hours on end, and grass doesn’t poop itself. Can’t you break up the day into writing time/mom time/phone & email & networking time/cooking & home & kid time? You have household help & don’t commute. Just get organized, make a schedule and start your new year & the Jewish new year (happy 5770!) on a new footing.

    Have a 3rd piece of cake for me, ‘k?

  4. Well it sounds like you have the perfect day planned out. Much better than we could have done in LA. I wish you many days in the next year just like today. Happy Birthday! xox

  5. Happy Birthday! If you like purple you should wear it now. But please skip the red hat. :)

  6. I had my second baby at 35, a beautiful, healthy baby girl to join her handsome older brother. We decided at the beginning of this year to try for one more baby, and just through the year. I told myself that I wouldn’t become obsessed with it, I know that at 37 my chances of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and having a healthy child go down. And wonders! I became pregnant quickly – expecting a Thanksgiving turkey baby. Even knowing the risks, I was completely devastated by my miscarriage in May. And the subsequent waiting time before trying again. And now I am beginning to feel a bit obsessed. And my birthday is coming up soon. And the only reason this is semi-relevant is because I found you and your website in May when I was searching online for someone that I could relate to, about the feelings that go along with a miscarriage. Your Feb 2006 post really helped me. So thank you.

    Oh, and have a fantasic birthday!

  7. Please save this entry to read on the eve of your 45th, 50th or whatever future birthday! Believe me, 35 isn’t anywhere near the end of anything. My birthday gift to you: remember that the future can begin at any time.

    And please: enough with the purple shizz. Those red-hat ladies make me want to die young!

  8. I’m 33 and I wear purple. Actually, today I’m wearing my Rainbow Brite militant look: army green sweater, denim skirt, and rainbow tights.

  9. Happy Birthday! Twirl around till you are dizzy and make a good wish!

    ps. Since I am currently carrying “Straight up and Dirty” around like a bible I will forgive you for reminding me that I am 1/2 way to 35 and my bfriend and I just broke up.

  10. Stephanie – I read your blog daily years ago….right before you moved to TX. For some reason, I thought of it today and searched google for a few minutes before finding you again. I can’t believe it’s your birthday and you have 2 kiddies! Congrats on it all! Can’t wait to start reading again!

  11. Your no more babies comment probably alienated half the women in the country. Ok – maybe not the country, but DEFINITELY the tri-state area. Really Stephanie? Thats an awfully archaic and narrow minded view for someone usually so open-minded. Not everyone got married at age 30…

    1. Author

      It’s not my rule, so don’t blame me. I hate it as much as you do! Like I said, of course people have healthy babies, long after 35. My sister-in-law was 39. All I’m saying is that I hate the number 35 because there are articles, web sites, and facts associated with that age. “Pregnancy After 35” is the title of many headlines for a reason. I didn’t pick a random number out of a hat.

      1. Actually you only have three months until the rule hits.

        “advanced maternal age” is calculated using age at due date.


        (I had kids at 36 & 37 and all was OK.)

  12. Eek! “Full time parenting is akin to watching grass grow…” Thank god many of my friends feel differently or I wouldn’t be so excited to do it!

    Happy birthday! and I had a chuckle about the “35 equals no more babies.” I love my 30s. Couldn’t wait to BE 30. Now I’m nearing 34 and our first is due right before I hit 34. I could care less about being 35, except that now, already feeling like we want another, I’m thinking, “BUT I’LL BE 35!!” And while yes, I can certainly have another at & after 35, it’s 35 which seems to be that magical number for child-bearing. Advanced maternal age and all that. So I feel you!!

  13. Happy birthday!


    your humility
    your honesty
    your humor
    your palpable, but imperfect, happiness
    your palpable, and perfect, love for your babies
    your ambivalence about aging
    your ambivalence about anxiety

    paint those toes. smear that name. scarf those slices. wear that dress. savor that dinner. see that movie. sing that song. read that book. hug those babes. start fresh. you deserve it. we all do. just promise us one thing – that you will keep writing.

    {oh – and, shocker, you are not the only one who is uncertain about this whole birthday thing. i turn 31 on sunday and just wrote about this impending and decidedly unimportant milestone on my own blog {which you are likely too much of a big-timer to check out :) – if not, here is the link }

  14. Happy Birthday to you!!!

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday – fill it with all you love :)

  15. Happy happy birthday! Don’t worry about the age thing – life just gets better. Have a wonderful day with your lovely family and friends.

  16. This post makes me look forward to many more birthdays and getting older.

    A very happy birthday to you from a longtime reader.

  17. Happy Birthday! Ah, the “advanced maternal age” thing… My OB and I used to joke about it. In a day my eggs were old? Anyhow, I spent my 34th birthday holding my 3-week old baby girl – baby #2. I spent my 40th birthday hugely pregnant with baby #4. He’s three and crazy and busy and exhausting and exhilirating. Healthy babies all of them (now 11, 10, 5 and 3…) I’ll be 44(!) next month. Although I know I don’t want any more babies, it doesn’t stop me from thinking, “no more babies” with sadness.

  18. Stephanie,

    I wish you a very happy birthday (or whats left of it anyway). I hope you got to do all the things you wanted to do with the people you wanted to do them with.

  19. I had my first child four months before I turned thirty-seven. My second child a few months before I turned thirty-nine. My boys are amazingly healthy and strangely enough HAPPY :)

    I read all those “Pregnancy After 35″ articles too. And to all of them, I would say POO.

    Happy belated birthday.

  20. Happy birthday, Stephanie. Your writing, today as always, has that perfect combination of introspection, eloquence, and just a pinch of silliness. Here’s hoping you have a great day.

  21. Happy Birthday! I’ll be turning 30 in less than 2 weeks. I’m excited about my 30s. My beautifully-wise grandmother once told me her 30s were the best time of her life. She loved herself the best then. I want to repeat that!

  22. Happy Birthday! I’m right there with you – I turned 35 this week and definitely DO want more babies, but the first came only with IVF. Seriously feeling the pressure about “advanced maternal age”! I say the answer is more cake…

  23. Happy belated, Stephanie. Hope it was wonderful.

    (PS – my mom had us at 35 and 38. Only thing we seem to suffer from is Jewish guilt that she would have passed on at any age :))

  24. Happy birthday late! Mine was on the 26th and I am older than you. I think the thing that I hated most about my 35th birthday was realizing that is was as many years from 20 as it was to 50! YIKES! Now I’m getting so close to that birthday that it judt doesn’t look that old anymore.I lost a dear friend a few months back to cancer so there are worse thigns in the world than!

  25. Hey Steph, just read the lovely poem by Jenny Joseph. Are you sure it’s supposed to say “satin candles”? I think it’s “satin sandals” ;-). Although satin candles are also quite cool to spend your money on…


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