Someday last week, I’m not sure which, between telling people we were expecting, to purging our house and cleaning like a mad woman for no particular reason at all-except nesting, I found out there was a big storm headed our way. The word of mouth, or what we now consider text messaging, reached me before the news could. It wasn’t going to be the kind of snow that you would like to play in, but the kind of snow that you would actually hide from.
Sooner than later, I turned on the news and there it was, full warnings about the snow, it’s possibilities, and how we should act accordingly, take care of our elderly neighbors, and the homeless too. By now, us New Yorkers are used to this routine. No matter what kind of reputation we might have, you can bet your butt that you won’t see a homeless man or woman on the street the days leading up to a storm, and that the topic of all subway conversations between strangers and friends are that of warnings to be safe. There’s this absolute gathering of sorts.
When I finally took a minute to compose myself, cancel my doctors appointments, play dates, and errands, I did what any sane parson does; I went food shopping. As long as we have food we are alright I thought.
All the hoopla of the storm got me thinking of something that happened a few years ago. I mentioned it on Instagram, but I think this story deserves it’s own spot on the blog as well.
When River was just a tiny peanut in my belly, there was this huge storm in New York City. I was only a few weeks away from giving birth, maybe a month at most. If I recall, no one really took the storm seriously. Up until then, NYC had been known for it’s swift clean up, deep in your sleep on any given occasion, with the slightest snow warning, you would hear trucks up and down your block, salting, and salting as they go. In the morning, even before the snow got the chance to stick to the pavement, you would see trucks, passing by slowly, only to repeat the same routine a few moments later, in an attempt to get anything that would stick to the street. Growing up, I always knew snow days in NYC didn’t last long. It comes with the big city package. But that year was particularly different.
Our Mayor, Mayor Mike Bloomberg had completely dropped the ball. There’s no way around saying that and not sounding like a total mean-y but he did. I think eventually, or maybe I’m mistaken he even admitted to it. Now, don’t quote me, but I believe he was away on vacation when the killer storm decided to give New York a real beating. There had been none of the usual salting and salting, and none of the morning plowing and plowing. Nothing. The snow fell, and continued to fall and fall and build up until trains were down, people were stuck in their homes, and the sidewalks and streets were something out of a movie. There was no leaving your house, and if you did, you’d better have a shovel handy to make your way through the sidewalks.
At that point in time my mom lived in a brownstone in Bedford Stuvesant Brooklyn, and Peter and I shared our first apartment in the “up and coming” and hard to get to Bushwick Brooklyn. After spending a day or so at my mother’s house, and getting completely terrified and uneasy about possibly giving birth in her home without my then fiancé I decided to walk. At the time it didn’t seem that crazy. Yes, I was pregnant, and very pregnant at that, but I felt trapped. Everyone felt trapped. Sadly, some people actually passed away because emergency vehicles couldn’t reach them in time. The streets were that bad. I had become accustomed to my little 3rd floor apartment with my man and our already set up nursery. Even though I loved my mom, there’s nothing like having the father of your child around for your first birth. And if I had to deliver a baby in a home, I wanted it to be my home with my fiancé.
The morning was the time I needed to take on that crazy adventure. It was like day three of the storm and most of Manhattan midtown was cleared, so off to work my mom had to go. She had to walk blocks to the nearest train as the others were still down. We walked arm in arm most of the time, laughing and talking, and discussing the craziness of what we both were doing. My mom refused the idea of not going back to work, and I refused the idea of staying away from Peter. In that moment, I realized how much I had become her. So stubborn, but also determined, in a crazy and brave way.
We parted at the train station, and once I got to the nearest stop to my home I was hit with the reality that I had more blocks to walk. Not the normal 1 or 2, more like, blocks on blocks on blocks. I walked on mostly paved sidewalks, holding onto gates, walls, and whatever could help balance out that big ol’ belly leading the way.
I was home.
Looking back, I was down right crazy, but truthfully I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It’s hard not feeling in control during the last leg of your pregnancy.
Surprisingly, maybe the next night, I go to answer my door and there was my sister. Wide eyed and worried. She had walked from my mother’s house to mine in a crazed panic. I forgot to charge my phone for like a day, and she took it upon herself to personally check my well being. Back then Peter worked so many hours through the night and day it was impossible for her to contact him. So, the only ease of her heart was to see me in person. She, was and is just like my mom as well.
This storm was nothing like that. Like the old days, the streets were rattling and booming with trucks salting and plowing throughout the night. Despite that, overall the freezing temperatures were of more concern than the snow. The snow, it turned out to actually be the nice snow, the clean snow. Staying mostly in parks for sledding, snow ball fights and snow angels.