The Days that Everything Changed

By |2018-09-11T08:55:42+00:00September 11th, 2018|Adoption, Parenting After Loss, Pregnancy, The First Year|4 Comments

I was working at a trade show in New York on September 11, 2001. Far enough away that I wasn’t physically impacted by the devastation, but close enough to see the smoke coming from the Towers, the emergency response vehicles in motion, and the panic and fear in everyone around me. We left the Javits Center in a daze, walking back to the hotel, passing by hospital staff at the ready with nothing they could do to help. Initially, looking up at the sky, away from the Towers, it was a crisp blue, where you’d never know the depth of what just took place. Our country was left wondering, Why? What’s next? And how would we ever get through this?

September 11 became my generation’s JFK

Slowly, through the devastation, tears and fears came a new normal. Everything became Before 9/11, and After. The country then started to bond together, finding community in ways we hadn’t before. There was space for grief and sadness. And together, we looked for hope. We needed the comfort that it was going to be OK, even if we didn’t know that for sure.

It dawned on me last week how many similarities there are between 9/11 and pregnancy loss. First and foremost, by no means am I trying to compare the two in scope. What I am saying is that with pregnancy loss, there’s also the daze, the panic and fear, and being surrounded by those who want to help, but can’t do anything. The questions, the devastation, and the need for community and hope are all there too. Each of us who has experienced pregnancy loss or losses, have found ourselves on a new path, living a new normal.

Everything changed the day I heard, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” And it changed again when I delivered our children long before they were ready for this world. There’s the Erin before the losses, and the Erin after. At first, I really didn’t like “after Erin.” I was angry with her. I didn’t trust her. And I felt sorry for her. I didn’t think I would get through. Then I started talking about it, and others started talking back. I found my people.

I was still devastated and afraid, but I was no longer alone.

Choosing to try again after a loss (or losses) is one of the most courageous things a person can do. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one carrying the child, if you’re adopting, or going through a surrogate. There are no guarantees, just hope and desire. So we move forward, while still carrying intense sadness. I had to learn to find myself again, and accept that I was never going to be the same person I was before. My therapist reminded me often that this isn’t good or bad, it simply is. I learned to show myself the same kindness and respect I would have given a friend in a similar situation. And I had to forgive myself. Not because I did anything that caused my losses, rather because I made myself believe that I had.

The Evolution of Normal

Our normal shifted once again when we brought our son C home, thanks to domestic adoption. We say a light turned back on in us we thought was extinguished forever. To tie it back to 9/11, it was like when the folks at Saturday Night Live asked if it was OK to be funny again. Yes, we were beyond happy to finally have one of our children home with us, and it didn’t negate everything we had gone through.

Our lives changed again when I became pregnant with our son J, and again with our son E. For each of the 38 weeks/2 days and 37 weeks/2 days that I carried our younger sons, I found myself navigating through fear and anxiety, combined with joy and excitement on a daily, if not minute-by-minute basis. At some point, I knew I had to let go of the control I never had in the first place in order to survive.

On some levels, I believe that life is a series of new normals. Some are for positive reasons, and others not so much. Then again, maybe there isn’t such a thing as normal because life is constantly evolving whether we’re ready or not. Our story is our story. So this morning as I take in the annual memorials honoring those who perished 17 years ago today, I’ll also be looking forward, and celebrating our son E whose appearance a year ago today changed the way we view 9/11 once again.

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About the Author:

Erin Kuhn-Krueger
Erin Kuhn-Krueger is a 5x miscarriage survivor (including a daughter, Baby Krueger, at 16 weeks 6 days in April 2010), and a 2x stillbirth survivor (twins, Sarah and Benjamin, at 20 weeks 5 days in October 2012). After her 4th loss, Erin created the blog and resource portal, Will CarryOn, for those experiencing baby loss, and learning to live and survive life after loss. She writes from the heart, touching on oft-taboo subjects, showcasing the struggles, determination and hope that have kept her (and her husband) together, and moving forward. She believes the more people talk about baby loss, the less alone those walking a similar path will feel. Erin received a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Drake University where she studied advertising and marketing. She uses her personal experiences and marketing background to shape her advocacy work and community outreach in the adoption, loss and infertility arena. In addition to her writing, and speaking at support groups and conferences, Erin also works as the Community Outreach Director for The Blossom Method, a center providing therapeutic support and counseling for infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, baby loss, pregnancy after loss, postpartum depression, and more. Erin and her husband, Aaron, live in the suburbs of Chicago, and are parents of three sons: C, by way of domestic adoption (May 2013), and J (August 2014) and E (September 2017), after successfully carrying two pregnancies to term. You can find her on Twitter, and follow Will CarryOn on Twitter and Facebook.

4 Comments

  1. Glammy & Pappy September 11, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Beautiful as are E, J and C ❣️😘

  2. Jess L September 14, 2018 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    I’m in awe. I hate that many people don’t recognize miscarriage or losses because they didn’t breath air. Hubby and I lost ours in April of this year and it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through. Now I’m pregnant again and I am checking every single symptom and literally watching every little thing I do to prevent it even though I finally realized it’s not my fault.

    • Erin Kuhn-Krueger
      Erin Kuhn-Krueger September 14, 2018 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Jess. I’m glad you realized that it’s not you fault, and also know that knowing that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. I hope you have a support system around you, and are finding PALS to be a helpful resource for you as well. I’ll be thinking of you, and sending positive thoughts and strength your way.

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