*Miscarriage and infant loss trigger warning

I hate my birthdayPhoto: Unsplash


I hate my birthday.

There… I said it.

It’s an odd relief to just say exactly how I feel about this one specific day that comes every February.

For so long I didn’t feel free to express my birthday lament because it seems so juvenile, or worse… emotionally immature. *Gasp* All I need to tell myself is “that’s so emotionally immature” and I immediately go into this frantic mental tailspin that sounds something like “OH MY GOSH I NEED TO FIX MYSELF NOW!!!”

But really, there is no self help book, pep talk, or inspiring podcast to fix my head when it comes to my birthday.

I just hate my birthday.

But let’s not leave this alone, because I actually think there is some encouragement here in this weird topic for so many of you reading right now and questioning my… ah hem… emotional stability.

WHY do I hate my birthday (this is where you might begin to see yourself in my birthday mania…)? I only recently became aware of the reasons: dreams and disappointments.

This past New Year’s Eve I listened to friends expressing their heartache about leaving behind the year 2015… the year that their babies were born and also went to Heaven. The pain takes a person to the very edge of what is even humanly bearable. Maybe even beyond. These dear mothers all spoke of the anguish of leaving the year that their baby lived in and it feels like time is forcing them to leave their babies behind and move into the new year. Incredibly painful and a huge disappointment in life.

Another friend talked about how hard New Year’s is when he feels like he didn’t accomplish many good things in the previous year. When a new year should feel like a fresh start, for some it’s just a difficult reminder of failure.

So many people experience Valentine’s Day depression. We try to pretend like the day doesn’t mean anything, but it still does.

Anniversaries that should be a celebration of love and a life lived together can be miserable when the day doesn’t feel happy for any variety of reasons.

Christmas time is a season of depression for so many. We expect December to be full of love, happiness, family, and celebration. As usual, our expectations and being faced with our life disappointments lead us into holiday blues.

Now you might be understanding a little better why I hate my birthday. I don’t experience the common blues associated with other special days… my birthday is the day.

My birthdays as a child and teenagers were wonderful, magical, fun days. My parents were absolutely amazing at making those days special and memorable. But as an adult… well, birthdays are just way less fun! I’ll admit that I’ve spent several birthdays in bed crying most of the day.

My worst birthday was my 32nd. Just a few months before that day I had miscarried my second child. My miscarriage experience was extremely traumatic for so many reasons. Unfortunately my 32nd birthday fell on a Wednesday. My husband was a youth pastor and our youth night was every Wednesday. In the church world it is incredibly difficult for a pastor to take a Sunday or Wednesday off. Like, VERY difficult. Even if you can get everything covered by other leadership so you can be away, you just feel the disapproving eyes of everyone on you. You also know that this will mean no family vacation this year because you’re only allowed to miss 2 Wednesdays or Sundays a year. Since we lived far from our families, we needed those few and precious days off to be able to visit them. (Maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to tell you our story of ditching ministry life… be prepared to be offended because I can tell you we are so much happier now… gasp!)

So that terrible Wednesday found me home alone with my daughter all day. My husband was very sweet and left a card and flowers for me to find when I woke up (on Wednesdays he would be out the door by 7am and not home until 10pm). The depression was immediate. I opened my eyes that morning and my body flooded with sadness.

A sweet friend called me to wish me “Happy Birthday” and asked how I was doing. My voice cracked as I said “not good.” With sincere concern she asked why and all I could say was “my birthday is always the day I seem to reflect on the year before. Today I have nothing but sadness to reflect on.”

Dear friends, I have to tell you that I was a completely broken person at this point in my life. Just a few months before this birthday I had delivered my miscarried baby in my toilet at home and flushed his little body down the toilet in a panic. Within a week I was in the hospital with a serious infection. I have never felt so much physical and emotional pain. Every inch of me inside and out was in utter agony. Still, two years later I mourn the loss. Even as I write this my screen is blurred through my tears.

So yes, that birthday was excruciatingly painful.

Since my husband had to be at the church all day, I took my two year old daughter to the Olive Garden with me for dinner. She sang happy birthday to me in her sweet baby girl voice as I cried.

When I was finally able to see my husband later that night, he whisked me off to our “home town” (it’s not really our home town, but the one place the two of us had truly felt connected to in our married lives together) of Carlisle, PA to stay for two sweet and restful nights. On the trip there he handed me my computer and I watched the most life giving 30 minute video ever. He had secretly contacted probably everyone I had ever known and asked them to send an encouraging video message to me. He made put them all together. There were definitely a lot of tears as I was shown so much love over and over by the most dear people in the world.

Gosh I love that man.

I still hate my birthday. Admitting this to my friends and family has changed the game. Now, I don’t pretend. I don’t build up expectations in my mind that it will be a happy day. I face the sad feelings head on and I CHOOSE to do things that day that I enjoy.

Friends, when you allow yourself the gift of awareness that certain days will be hard, you can empower yourself to choose your path on that day.

CHOOSE to embrace your sadness. You do not have to pretend to be happy when you’re mourning.

CHOOSE to make plans for an enjoyable day. YOU know what YOU need. Make it happen for yourself. Plan a fun trip to take during those days you know will be hard. Schedule a massage. Go out for breakfast (on my birthday I chose to eat all THREE meals out!). Buy tickets to a movie or show. Call your friends and invite them to do something fun to celebrate with you (warn them that it’s an emotional day for you). Take a walk in nature. Sleep. Just plan to do exactly what you want to do on that day. Here is the key: don’t allow yourself to have the expectation that someone else will make the day happy for you. Take the reigns and make the plans yourself.

CHOOSE to express how you feel. This is not asking for pity or expressing a weird need for attention; it’s being real.


Friends, do you have a certain day every year that is hard for you? Now it’s your turn to talk (comment section below).

11 Comments on I Hate My Birthday – Emotional Trigger Days

  1. Aletha Oglesby
    April 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm (2 years ago)

    Carissa, I can identify with you. I don’t look forward to my birthday like i used to, and it’s not because I’m now a ‘senior citizen”. My birthday is in December, which should be the happiest month of the year. But with my parents gone, and my husband’s, neither my birthday or Christmas are the same. We have sons and grandchildren, but no other extended family to celebrate with, and it hurts watching other families who do. I have started trying to take the day off from work and do something special just for me. And now with social media, I get lots of greetings, some from unexpected people. So it’s a bittersweet day, and I’ve just learned to expect it to be emotional. I’m glad you have learned ways to cope also.

  2. Andrea
    April 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm (2 years ago)

    That is SO true – learning how to do that coming out of a dysfunctional into a functional situation for me – even all these many years later

  3. Hannah Grace
    April 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for the complete honest and open heart. It seems the world expects us to walk around with smiles and kodak moments…
    I don’t have certain day that I feel that way, but those days will randomly come for me. The past few years every special occasion reminds me of what I have lost. My child still lives, but he is lost in other ways. A mom’s heart can break a million times over. Prayers for you sweet girl.

  4. Leigh
    April 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for your openness and honesty. I think it’s important not to try to force ourselves to feel a certain way on a certain day. We feel what we feel, and your advice about adjusting expectations is good.

  5. Starla J
    April 16, 2016 at 8:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this part- “Here is the key: don’t allow yourself to have the expectation that someone else will make the day happy for you. Take the reigns and make the plans yourself.”

  6. kate
    April 16, 2016 at 9:45 pm (2 years ago)

    I am so sorry to read the pain that has made birthdays difficult for you. I pray for healing and that it can someday be joyful again!

  7. Sharon
    September 13, 2017 at 5:53 pm (1 year ago)

    I have hated my birthday since 2013 (one of the unluckiest years
    in history of my existence). On October 13 (note the date), five days before the day, my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) were involved in a car accident. They survived, but the memories remain- especially for me. The other driver walked away unharmed and was not charged.
    I will never forgive him for what he did. Nor will I forget my mother’s reaction to the news. I just want this man to suffer the way my family suffered, for karma to hit him where it hurts the most. To put it bluntly, I want revenge. I hope he never knows a moment’s peace for the rest of his life. This year October the 13th falls on a Friday, and I will
    be hoping he finally pays for his crime-with his life. My anger knows no bounds. When I am wronged, I don’t forget. And thanks to that scumbag, my birthday makes me feel upset.

  8. Anne
    July 3, 2018 at 6:26 am (3 months ago)

    Thank you for sharing. Like you, I hate birthdays. As I grew older I learned how to celebrate my own birthdays in my own style and not to rely on other people to make my birthday a special day. I get a lot of disappointments around my birthdays. I had a wonderful 40th and that is probably the best birthday I’ve had because I planned a week away doing something I absolutely loved.
    It is such a relief to know that there are people out there who hate birthdays.

  9. Autumn Rios
    August 25, 2018 at 12:05 am (1 month ago)

    Carissa, thank you for writing this! I feel I was ment to read this tonight. My birthday is in two days and I’m miserable. I have went to great lengths this year to avoid birthday attention, including changing my birthdate on FB so I dont receive birthday wishes! I just can’t! I googled “why do I hate my birthday” and your article popped up…and as I read I bawled. I lost my daughter, Chloe, in 2016 to potters syndrome…she was born still at 34 weeks due to not developing kidneys. My heart was torn in two. Still is. 6 months later I left and divorced my narcistic husband, only to discover that I became pregnant by him just before the divorce…so I birthed my son alone. Both Chloe and my son were conceived on my birthday….and as both of my babies are blessings, I am just an emotional train wreck right now. Thank you for sharing your story, I am going to quit beating myself up for feeling like I do. I am very interested in hearing about how you exited the life of Ministry, as I left my husband who was pursuing ministry, and I walked away from our church who turned a blind eye to his abusive ways…thank you again!

    • carissashaw
      September 9, 2018 at 6:28 pm (2 weeks ago)

      You really have been through so much pain! Losing a child is the worst pain I can imagine and how much more complicated when in a negative relationship. My heart goes out to you!
      As far as leaving ministry, it’s been four years now and I finally don’t think about it constantly. It was the best decision for my family. It was an incredibly unhealthy place for us. Now, we attend church but certainly see things differently.

  10. Mrs. C
    September 12, 2018 at 9:52 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I also have a birthday coming up (#33). I can understand why people like us just don’t enjoy them. After, having a daughter and being married I see that our families care more about celebrating our daughter or my husbands. I tend to stay home on my birthday not wanting to do anything but, have take out and watch Hulu/Netflix!
    For me, being a HSP, I find it difficult being around big crowds and being at EVERY birthday and holiday celebration with the In-Law’s.. (my husband’s preference).
    If I could I’d just stay home all the time. Hasn’t been the same for my dads side for the past 5 years. (Loss of grandfather and step sister in the same year)


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