March 13th was the last time I hugged someone who wasn’t my husband or one of my four children. I’ve had exactly four safe social distancing hangouts with people who don’t live with me. For an “etremeovert” like me (extreme extrovert) these are not happy times, ya’ll. And still…
I count myself lucky! I’m healthy. I may be quarantined in my house, but I’m “stuck” with people that I genuinely enjoy and get along with. I’m still able to go on daily walks with my dog throughout our neighborhood where Spring has definitely sprung – and the beauty both astounds and restores me. My meditation and yoga game is strong and both have helped ease any anxiety about how long this might last, or what is yet to come.
And blessedly, I’ve been able to continue my work with expecting and new families as they navigate their pregnancy, birth and parenting journeys. I know I speak for so many other helpers within this field when I say, that doing this work virtually is really, really challenging! We’re used to being present with the families that we work with: physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.
We understand how important it is to put a comforting hand on a partner’s shoulder, to sense some unspoken concern, to read a couple’s energy and find ways to either soften or strengthen the emotion coursing between the two of them.
We know that the right words at the right time can literally change the course of a family’s life (even if we’re only in their lives for a short time.)
It’s hard to believe that this connection might still be possible in current times – that we can touch others through a ZOOM class or well-timed text messages. But I’ve been connecting with families in the past eight weeks in both of these ways, and I know from their feedback that this connection is still possible… and more importantly, that it’s needed more than ever!
Pregnant people and the partners that love them are feeling lots of things right now: confusion, anxiety, grief and guilt about bringing a baby into all of this mess!
These feelings are, of course, valid and understandable. But it’s the guilt and grief that concerns me the most. So, I hope the following might be the right words at the right time, to provide expecting or new parents with a bit of comfort and relief.
I was pregnant with my second child, Alejandro, when 9/11 happened. I wasn’t very far along – in my 1st Trimester, still throwing up and wondering why I thought having another baby was a good idea in the first place!
We were in the middle of having new carpeting put down in what was to become Big Sister Elisa’s bedroom now that a baby was on the way. The carpet layer had the radio on and suddenly screamed out so loudly that we ran into the room to ask what was the matter. We quickly turned on the TV.
Watching the two planes fly into the Twin Towers over and over again as the news poured in that what we were witnessing was not some sort of freak accident, but instead a terrorist attack, was shocking! I remember the intense confusion and anxiety that I felt in the immediate aftermath. But in the days and weeks that followed, these feelings quickly morphed into grief and guilt.
I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I’m bringing a baby into a world where something like this is possible!”
I know that there are all SORTS of things in this world that challenge the idea of bringing a baby into it, but 9/11 was a huge, unexpected event that exposed the flaws in our existing systems and resulted in fear of the unknown and destruction of our sense of security on a global scale.
The disturbing images and news stories being played on repeat in every news media outlet intermingled with the pregnancy hormones coursing through my body and caused me to fear for my baby’s future. “The 9/11 Babies” were born into a time and place where everything was uncertain. And as their parents, collectively, we expressed serious concern and questioned what the future held for them. (Sound familiar?)
The “9/11 Babies” are all grown up. And here’s what I can tell you about my own son and every other 18-year-old I know right now.
I’m not alone in saying that these “kids” – the same ones who are missing Prom, Senior Skip Day, and Graduation due to COVID-19 – are pretty remarkable people! They are strong, resilient, peacemakers. They are mature beyond their years. They are change agents. And they haven’t even started adulting yet!
In short, the circumstances that the world was reeling from while they were still developing in utero or being born at the time of 9/11 became a part of them. And it’s my belief that they are the people this world needed then – and now!
So take heart all of you pregnant or newly parenting families in the world who are feeling deep grief or guilt about bringing your babies into this particular mess…
Your babies are the ones this world needs right now! They are the ones this world has been waiting for.
I believe they will prove to be resilient in the face of challenge or crisis. I believe that they will be attentive, and prioritize connection to one another – because that’s something we’re all longing for right now. Eighteen years into the future, you too will marvel at who they have become – who they’ve always been. Rest assured they’re going to be okay despite this global pandemic… maybe even because of it.