9/11 attacksToday, September 11th, is a very moving day for me. Among the remembrances of what happened in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, I also remember the beginning of what became both a devastating experience and a true blessing in my life — my postpartum OCD.

Eight years ago today I was in the maternity ward at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, having just had my first baby, my beautiful Jackson, just a few days before. I was in the hospital nursery, visiting Jackson and checking on whether his bilirubin levels were low enough (he had jaundice) to allow him to be released that morning from the hospital. My husband walked in to the nursery to tell me that someone had attacked the Twin Towers in New York. I thought he was joking. As all of the hospital patients and staff and doctors came to realize what was happening, a strange buzz took over the hospital. New York, DC … no one knew if Atlanta, not much further down the Eastern seaboard, would be next.

I remember begging the nurses in the nursery to get hold of the pediatrician who would decide if my son could be released and get whatever approval we needed so we could get out of there. Threatening them that I was leaving and taking my baby with me, with or without their permission. I remember going back to my room to throw my things in a bag and seeing the second tower collapse on TV, while my husband was relaying that the first tower had already gone down. I remember bundling Jack up in his Piedmont Hospital onesie and a random blanket,with no time to dress him in the adorable “going home” outfit I’d so carefully picked out for him from Baby Gap as I had planned. The shirt from that outfit, never worn, featured, ironically, a little blue shirt with two airplanes doing loop-de-loops.

I remember my husband driving down Interstate 85 at 100 miles an hour to get us home, the center of Atlanta so surprisingly empty, as most everyone had already abandoned the city center by then. I remember in those first several weeks of his life, the songs I sang to Jack were “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” rather than “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Itsy, Bisty Spider”. I remember wondering what kind of world I had just brought my son into.

That experience, among other things, sowed the early seeds of my postpartum OCD, which unbeknownst to me would burst into my life with such cruelty just a few weeks later.

For so many reasons, I will never forget 9/11. God bless America.

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