In a few hours it will be the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2974 people died in the attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed dead.
Seven years ago I was living in Osceola, Wisconsin with my husband and my son. My husband and I had just gotten married two months before though we had been living together for four years.
I had slept on the couch the night before. My husband and I had not had a fight we just weren’t speaking to one another. We had a queen size bed and it wasn’t big enough as far as I was concerned.
I awoke, like any other day, and got my son fed and on the bus for school. I went back inside and took a shower. My husband and I had both taken the day off.
I turned on the Today show and grabbed a cup of coffee while my husband went into the bathroom to take a shower. I glanced at the TV as I was going outside to have a cigarette. A plane had just struck on of the Twin Towers. I didn’t stay to see what had happened. I figured a pilot veered off course and hit the building. I honestly didn’t give it a second thought.
I was too busy thinking about the ride into St. Paul, a 45 minute drive, with my husband. I wasn’t looking forward to the awkward silence that I knew we would both have to endure. We wouldn’t talk I was sure becuase we hadn;t talked about it yet and if history was any indication we wouldn’t talk about it. We would soldier through.
We were going to St. Paul because I had to go to the hospital for a minor procedure. At least that is how the doctors described it to my husband. I was going in for a D&C. I was 8 weeks pregnant but the baby had died. I had not miscarried on my own and the doctor wanted to go in and perform the procedure since it didn’t look like I was going to expel the fetus on my own.
I found out I was pregnant about a month after my husband and I got married. I wanted to have at least one more child. He said he did as well but wanted to wait a bit until we were more settled. I was surprised to learn I was pregnant since I had so much trouble getting pregnant with my son and because I was taking birth control pills. I was surprised to find out I was pregnant but I was elated too.
My husband was not. He did not respond the way I had hoped he would to the news though he did respond the way I knew he would. He accused me of trying to trap him. Which illustrated that I had obviously married someone who was not too bright. I had already bagged him so I didn’t know what good trapping him would do. He left the apartment when I told him I was pregnant. I don’t know where he went but I assume he went out to the piece of property we owned that we were planning on building our dream home on. He came around to the idea of being a father a couple of weeks later but he was still scared to death. At least he was trying.
When I found out a week or so later that the baby had no heartbeat I was heartbroken. I called my husband who made all the right noises but frankly sounded relieved. The doctor told me I might expel the pregnancy on my own but if I didn’t I needed to take another blood test in a week to confirm that indeed the baby had died. He needed that confirmation to do the procedure he explained otherwise it was considered an abortion and he didn’t perform them. He said if I didn’t want to wait a week he would give me a few names of doctors who performed abortions. This was not my first miscarriage and it would not be my last. I told him I would wait the week and see what happened.
Which brings us to the morning of 9/11. I finished my smoke and came back inside. My husband was still in the bathroom so I sat down and watched the TV. Katie Couric was still talking about the plane that had hit the tower. No one seemed to think that it was terrorists until another plane hit the other tower. I sat there stunned. Suddenly my little drama didn’t seem all that important. My husband came out of the bathroom and I told him what was going on. He reacted the same way I did when the first plane hit and went into the bedroom to get dressed.
He came out of the bedroom a few minutes later, grabbed a cup of coffee and told me we had to go if we were going to get there on time. We drove in silence, as I expected we would, but for the radio which was now broadcasting that the Pentagon had been hit as well. Before we made it into the cities the first tower had fallen.
“Oh my god!” I kept repeating it over and over. I couldn’t believe this was happening. There must be thousands of people in those buildings. There was so much confusion on the airwaves that it was hard to keep track of what was really happening.
We arrived at the hospital for the 45 minute procedure. We were told we wouldn’t be there any longer than two hours. After filling out paperwork the nurse gave me a gown and showed me where to change. I could wait in the waiting room with my husband. We sat there and watched as the other tower came crashing down.
Six hours later the nurse called my name. I followed the nurse to another room where my doctor was waiting with more paper work. He signed it and dated it. He then looked at me and circled the date. He had written 9-11.
“That is the international sign for emergency.” He said when he circled the numbers.
I didn’t know what to say so I said nothing and waited for the next stage of this bizarre day. I just really wanted to get out of there. I walked into the procedure room where they hooked me up to an IV. I was given something to help me relax but not to knock me out. The whole thing took minutes. My doctor described what he was doing as he did it. I was concentrating on not crying.
If I could make it through the whole ordeal without crying I would be okay. I didn’t want to start crying because I knew if I did, even a little, I wouldn’t be able to stop and I didn’t want my husband to see me cry. More importantly I didn’t want to cry in front of my husband and my doctor or the nurses becuase I knew my husband would just stand there with his hands in his pockets. I didn’t want to make a fool out of me and I didn’t want to make a fool out of him. I could handle it.
In post-op the nurse apologized for the long wait. She said that all the staff were waiting to see if they were going to New York to help with the wounded. She also said that it didn’t look like there were many wounded. She talked about how horrible it was and seemed to forget why she was helping me. She noticed my hair and said that I was lucky since I would probably have a baby with red hair. She had always wanted a red headed baby. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t think I would be having anymore babies. I did mention that my son was a toe head however.
I refused any drugs and the wheelchair ride to the door. I could walk just fine. My husband met me at the front of the hospital with the truck. We drove back in silence.
When I returned I buried myself in CNN. I watched in horror as they started listing the names of the people who were on board the airplanes. All presumed dead. I watched in horror as the news anchors described the thumping sound the bodies made as they landed on the ground. The jumpers. I was struck by the silence outside since all air traffic had stopped and it was silent except for the rare care driving along the interstate.
I stood outside in the silence and I cried. I cried for the victims of this horrible terrorist attack. I cried for their loved ones. I cried for our country that was no longer immune to these senseless acts of violence. It could indeed come to our shores. I couldn’t cry for my loss, I couldn’t cry for my baby. I would eventually but at that moment my problems were nothing compared to the people in New York and DC. After I cried I did something I hadn’t done in ages. I prayed.
Readers are welcome and encouraged to share their 9/11 stories in the comment section.