Today is a strange day.
I'm sure September 11th is strange and sad for a lot of people. Eight years ago, I was 37 weeks pregnant with my oldest daughter. I woke up, showered, and made myself as presentable as a 37 week pregnant woman can be, and got in the car, heading to an OB/GYN appointment all without turning on the radio or the TV. The reports were mixed and chaotic, and it took five or ten minutes of listening before I caught the gist of what had happened. I called my husband who was home playing the xbox and told him to turn on the TV because it sounded like the United States was at war. It wasn't until I got home later that afternoon that I saw the footage of the planes crashing into the towers and realized the magnitude of the event.
Growing up, I heard stories of where my parents were when they heard JFK had been shot, or my grandparents tell of the landing on the moon. I will tell my children that I remember driving up 7800 S, wearing my green-checked maternity shirt with my hair up in a clip. I will tell them that I remember how quiet everyone was that day, and how we cried with the rest of the nation. I will tell them about the flags that appeared up and down our street for the next week. And they will shake their heads and think I'm old as they read about Septmeber 11, 2001 in their history books.
But that's not the only reason that September 11th is a weird day for me. New Years Eve, 2005, I peed on a stick and after almost a year of trying to get pregnant, the test was positive. I immediately looked at what my due date would be. September 11, 2006. We were thrilled about the baby, and started making plans for our first homebirth. And then I had a horrible, unexpected miscarraige in March of 2006. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I can almost say I'm grateful for that experience. We weren't ready for the complications that came with Max- there is no way we would have been able to deal with his medical problems emotionally or financially at that point. Plus, the year that followed led me to doula work, filling my lives with pregnant moms, babies, and friendships built attending births. As I went through invasive and sometimes humiliating fertility treatments and testing, attending the births of others reminded me that birth works, and that someday I would be able to carry a pregnancy to term. My life headed down a different road because of that miscarriage, and I am grateful for the path that I am on. But every September 11th, I can't help but think of the baby that we thought we would have- a baby that would be turning 3.
But that's not the only reason September 11th is weird for me. Last year, on the evening of September 10th, I got a call from my friend Kayleen who was in labor. She was having her second daughter, and had asked me to be her doula for her homebirth. Her gorgeous daughter Tessa was born at just after 1 am, after a labor that Kayleen made look easy. I made it home just after 4 am, bleary-eyed and happy, thinking about how healing it was to attend a birth on a day when I was feeling a little melancholy. I got an hour or two of sleep before I woke up to engineer the school morning rush.
I had just dropped Ashlynn of at Kindergarten and was looking forward to the prospect of a long afternoon nap when the phone rang. It was my dad. "Stacy, I have some more bad news. You need to sit down." He proceeded to tell me that my oldest brother Curtis had died sometime earlier that morning. Five weeks before, my family had been through the heartache of my youngest brother dying of a drug overdose. Things were just starting to get back to normal after the funeral, burial, flowers and grief had started to subside, and now it was all happening again with a different brother.
My oldest brother Curtis never had an easy life. He started down the road of drugs, alcohol and crime when he was in high school. He spent cumulative years in jail. He had been excommunicated from the church, but had started getting his life back together. He had been rebaptized and preparing to go through the temple for the first time. But my brother Jay's death five weeks before had been the hardest on Curtis. I think he felt responsible in some ways, and had a hard time forgiving himself. He relapsed, and had a heart attack in the shower after work.
Going through a second funeral for a second brother was difficult for everyone, to say the least. I don't know how my parents lives through that kind of grief and survived. I can't imagine the grief from losing one child, let alone two in the same summer, both from drug related incidences.
So today is somber day. In some ways, it feels like any other day. I got up before the sun and Abby and I practiced for an hour and a half before school. I laughed on the phone with a friend, and nursed the baby. But later today, I'll call my mom, and we'll probably cry a bit. I sent a birthday card to sweet Tessa who gets to have her first birthday today. I'm thinking a little about what it would be like to have a three year old running around my house. And I'm remembering all the ways in which September 11th has changed me.