Friday, September 11, 2009
September 11, 2001
I already started to write about this, but it was a post that could go on forever. It's a date that is still surreal to me. It holds a lot of significance to me. It is the date that marks a total change in my world. I woke up on September 11th expecting it to be like every other day, but hoping the day would hold a major change for me. It was a date that I had been fixated on for over two months. It was the date I was expecting to go into labor.
I got up at 8am that day to watch Rugrats on Nickelodeon as I did every morning that Summer. (I love that show.) My routine was to watch Rugrats and then immediately flip to TLC to watch Baby Story for the next hour. I had a 2pm appointment with my midwife that afternoon and was hoping she'd strip my membranes so I could go into labor two weeks early. I was desperate to hold my baby in my arms.
Rugrats ended a few minutes early that day and since Bryan was home, I decided to flip channels (So I didn't look like a robotic couch potato on a fixed TV schedule) from Nick to TLC. In doing this, I came across the footage of the World Trade Center with a plume of smoke coming out of the side. I yelled for Bryan to come watch. I was certain that a terrible mistake had just happened. As we sat and watched the story unfold, we sat in disbelief as we watched a second plane fly into the other tower. At that point, I was convinced that a sadistic air traffic controller was behind this. How else could two planes fly in to the WTC? The thought of a terrorist attack never even crossed my mind.
For the next 4 hours Bryan and I were glued to the TV. I watched the twin towers collapse. I watched footage of the Pentagon engulfed in black and orange flames, and I watched footage of a black plume of smoke coming from a plane that crashed in PA. When you live on the East Coast near a major city, seeing this strikes panic into your heart. I have family who live in Staten Island and Long Island, NY. So while I was slightly removed from all of this living in Southern NJ, I had family who were personally affected by this event. Before I left my job due to pregnancy related issues, I sent financial documents and had daily contact with people who worked at the WTC. It was something that would stand out to me later when seeing people pleading for help finding their loved ones who perished in the collapse.
By 5pm on 9/11 I was in labor with Madeline. I had reached a point where I realized that I was not bringing my child into a world that I knew. It's a horrible feeling. By this time, I knew that the attacks were terrorist attacks. I honestly didn't understand why anyone would want to attack us, and I was terrified that I was about to bring my child into a world that would see a war. At 9pm Bryan and I made our way to the hospital. The next 4 hours and 33 minutes found me focusing on the news and the recovery efforts being made in NYC, instead of worrying about my labor. Apparently, a good news story can take your mind off of labor. I can vividly remember pushing and simply focusing on whether or not they were going to find anyone in the wreckage.
The day is still vivid in my memory and amazingly surreal. About 16 1/2 hours after the first plane hit (1:33am EST), I sat in a hospital room holding my firstborn, Madeline. I felt helpless. I was in awe of my beautiful child, but I felt guilty that I brought her into an uncertain world. I can say that the world I woke up to the day before I had Madeline is not the same world that I woke up to the following morning. I'm sure lots of people can say that about their transition to parenthood, but for those like me who had their child hours after a watershed event like this, the world didn't just change for us personally, but for those around us as well.
Every year I tell Madeline about what happened in our world the day before she came. She doesn't understand why someone flew planes into a building. I still don't understand it. She finds it amazing that planes did not fly in the skies from the afternoon before she was born until she was a couple of days old. How many people born in this day and age can say that no planes (other than military planes that were authorized to be off the ground) flew on the day they were born?
We have a huge stack of papers from the day Madeline was born. Many of the papers are filled with disturbing images of people falling to their deaths. I was deeply disturbed by these images when I finally sat down and looked at them months after her birth. The local paper for the day she was born had the headline that sticks out the most to me. It is a quote of George W. Bush's speech from the night before. "Today our nation has seen evil." What a headline for the day you were born.
Words will never fully express the way I feel about this date. They're totally inadequate. I will never forget the events of 9/11/01. The images and sounds of the day are ingrained in my memory. I'll never forget the sobering feeling of that day. Surreal is perhaps the only word that can come close to describing my feelings on the whirlwind of emotion and activity of that day.