1.07.2017

Remembering 9/11 with a newborn

. I went home on Sunday, September 9th. My doctor said I did “a beautiful job.” And granted us our walking papers. The nurses loaded us down with diaper bags, diapers, wipes, blankets, everything. Geoff proudly drove us home. That afternoon, my father and step-mother came to visit. The baby room did not have an air conditioner in it, but because I had cats and my dad said he was allergic, we stayed in there. The room was quite warm. On Monday, we spent the day laying around until there was a knock at the door. My dad had called and ordered an air conditioner to be installed in the baby room. After that was done, we spent the rest of the day, being lazy and staring at our tiny miracle.
Tuesday, September 11, Geoff had to work. He was doing school pictures at White Station HS, where I graduated and where my sister, Claire was a senior and my brother, Gabe was a sophomore. The day started pretty normal for us. Geoff got up and left around 6:00am to go to the studio and get what he needed to be at the school by 6:45am. Annie, my newborn baby, and I slept until around 7:15am. I decided that I was going to shower and went and got the baby carrier from the kitchen, carried it to the bathroom and proceeded to rearrange everything in my bathroom until I had situated the room so that I could see her in the carrier while I was in the shower, but would not soak her or the bathroom. You know, the usual gymnastics that every new mom goes through during her first shower, post baby, alone in the house. What could go wrong? According to my mommy brain, everything.
I managed my shower ok. Annie slept peacefully. I, of course, assumed something was wrong at least 4 or 5 times and would check on her as frequently. I decided to go ahead and bathe her and then got us both dressed. I turned on the TV. With 5 channels, there was not a lot to choose from. I finally settled on Good Morning America. I remember thinking that what Diane Sawyer had on looked really classy. I sat on the bed, in my self-painted bedroom, the sun was shining, the sky looked pretty out the window and my cat sat licking it’s paw on the end of my bed. Things seemed pretty great. I felt almost normal. I had accomplished something! And then the camera man said, “OH MY GOD!” So loudly you could hear him. And over her shoulder, I watched a plane fly. (As I reflect on this, though I did not watch GMA regularly, I do not recall ever seeing a plane in the background of that show ever before or after.) What happened in the next few hours is recorded in history books, as they say. My children, most of my friends’ children, will never know what life was like before that day. Any time I have left on an airplane for a trip, my children have said good-bye at the drop off of the airport or at the ticket counter. Never, as I did as a child, have they come to the gate, hugged me during boarding and then watched, with their noses pressed to the windows as the plane taxied away from the gate, down the runway and took off.
My brother, at school that day, headed to the auditorium to take his school picture and told my husband what was being shown on the news in classrooms around the building, the Twin Towers in NYC had each been hit with an airplane and were falling and reports were coming in of other airplane crashes around the country.
When Geoff arrived home I had spent most of the morning reacting to the news. I had cried, I had gotten scared, I had held my baby tight. Over the coming days and weeks, my post-partum hormones spiraled into near paranoia about the safety of my newborn child. With the help of my therapist, I recovered fully.
The afternoon of 9/11 Geoff called his mother to check on her. She lived then and still does, in Knoxville, TN. Which is very near, Oak Ridge, TN. Oak Ridge is home to the Department of Energy, Y-12 National Laboratories and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Know what all those places have in common? Nuclear Energy. The military was blocking the interstate and roads around Oak Ridge. No one in and no one out. His mother, safe and sound in Knoxville, could not get to Memphis.

Over the course of the rest of the month, businesses all around Memphis began asking for donations, instead of their normal fees, and donating money to the rescue efforts in NYC. Many of the schools were canceling their school pictures as numerous students were not coming to school, due primarily to parental fear. This gave Geoff and I more time together with our new baby. We began to fill our days by calling to see what area businesses were donating any or all of their funds to the relief and rescue efforts and trying to go to those places. Though it was not for happy reasons, it was a grand tour of our city!
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