Hurricane Irene: Blessings in Disguise

Last Thursday was one of the craziest days I have had in a very, very long time. I was up at 5AM packing lunches, writing notes for the babysitter, finding a broadcast worthy blouse, and loading up my suitcase for a weekend trip to Los Angeles. Justin left at 7:30AM to take one of the biggest, most significant exams of his life up to this point: the first half of the National Boards for Dental School (an eight hour long test on everything he has learned in DS the past two years). This also happened to be my very first day as the Director of Social Media at RedRover.

You could say that our life was busy and stressful that week, but that would be a gross understatement.

I kissed and squeezed by babies goodbye hurriedly, knowing that I wouldn’t see them for a couple of days. They were so excited to show the new babysitter all of their toys that they barely looked at me as I left. Sigh.
I was en route to broadcast a live, online segment at Fox News about Tommee Tippee’s new site The Day Baby Was Born, as I am the new “face” of the particular site-and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Shortly after the 7 minute segment, a car picked me up and whisked me off to JFK airport, where I was to board a plane to Los Angeles for the World Premiere of the Lion King 3D. I love that my life is exciting right now, and am embracing every single moment, however the unexpected impending doom of Hurricane Irene was right on my heels- excitement that none of us neither needed or wanted. With the news loud and blaring about Irene’s massive wingspan fast approaching Manhattan, I considered de-boarding the plane and heading right back home. No one seemed to think that she would leave much more than a whisper, so I decided to continue about my travels and tried to remain confidant and calm.

The 5 hour flight in silence didn’t bring me much peace amongst the deafening worry in my mind, despite the glorious views.

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I was greeted Los Angeles by gorgeous skies, warm weather, and that ever-familiar feeling of being back on California soil. It’s not quite as nice without my family with me, but I appreciated it all the same.

I checked into the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire and headed out to explore Rodeo Drive with the darling Colleen Padilla of Classy Mommy. Both of us had left our families in the path of Hurricane Irene, and spent much of that evening trying to figure out how to get back home ASAP. The news was not promising. Irene was on her way and we would both mostly likely be stuck in California for days to come.

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On Friday at noon I received the first notice (including urgent phone calls) of mandatory evacuation from the management of the complex where I live in Manhattan with my family.

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Sure enough, our buildings began to get boarded up and I immediately arranged to have my husband and kids head to a hotel in midtown. Hotels throughout the city were filling up with people from evacuation areas, labeled Zone A, and I wasn’t about to have my family somewhere unsafe or unfamiliar. I called our beloved Four Seasons and they not only had a room but were also able to accommodate our kitten, Charlie. I knew that this was somewhere that the kids would think they were on vacation and it would be an adventure with daddy-taking focus of the stress of the hurricane and my absence away from their attention.

My superhero husband packed the kids, cat and everything else they might need into the stroller and headed out into the calm before the storm. The following photos of my children smiling both brought me to tears and helped me get through the following day that they would be weathering the storm.

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They were excited to see the little gifts that I had sent for them waiting for them upon check-in!
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Charlie was the only unhappy camper. She did not like her foreign surroundings and found comfort in a bathroom drawer. Ingrate!

The hotel was not even halfway staffed and had completely shut down room service, but made sure that their guests would be safe throughout the hurricane and possible tornadoes threatening the city. This in and of itself was priceless to me, especially knowing that I couldn’t be there to take care of them myself.

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The following morning, after the storm had passed, I received this photo before just after they had gotten the call that it was “OK” to go back home to our apartment. There hadn’t been any damage to our buildings whatsoever. We are all very lucky.

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Everyone was safe, sound, and happy. Thank goodness.

I was in the process of wrapping up my trip in Los Angeles a the time, and learned that due to all of the flight cancellations to and from the airports in NYC, my next flight back home wouldn’t be for another week. So, I flew upstate to the Bay Area to stay with my mom-and I’ve been there ever since.

I miss my family and friends so terribly when we are in New York City, so this extra little blip of quality time with them has been truly a blessing in disguise. We almost didn’t even know what to do with ourselves!

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Myself, mom & sister out to dinner in Los Altos

It still feels quite unnatural and almost awkward being away from my children for so long, but this is the first time during this pregnancy that I’ve been able to actually focus on myself and baby #3. I’ve been trying to relax by sitting by the pool, having lunch dates with friends, and catching up on lots of work. I haven’t had this kind of time to myself since way before my first child was born. It’s so foreign!

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While I’m in my old town gaining perspective about finding alone time, prioritizing, re-evaluating and “finding balance”, my dear husband is gaining a little on his own. Today marks day seven of being alone with the kids-seven straight days. He’s a champ though, and even found it in his heart to give me a little bit of credit: “I now understand why you can’t keep the house clean ALL the time”.

Thanks, babe.

My flight leaves tomorrow, and you can only imagine how thrilled I’ll be to see the kids and my darling Mr. Shyba. It’s been so nice spending time with my people at “home” in California, but my home is with my children, and my heart is aching without them.

Join the Conversation


  • Just reading that made me so anxious! I can’t imagine how it felt for you. Glad everyone is safe and sound. You look fabulous, btw, and I’m happy you had so much fun in CA. Will definitely be a story for the ages!

  • Nice glimpse into the parallel universe you were existing in over those few days. I’m so sorry that it was so stressful, but it was great to see you and have your participation. If/when I make it to NYC, I’ll be hitting you up. : )

  • what a crazy time it was in NYC… even I left to head out east where it was expected to be much lighter of a storm!

  • audrey was looking at this post with me and when i scrolled to the belly shot laying out, i didn’t say anything at all, and she said “oh, a baby is going to come out of that belly and nurse.” so there you have it, jessica, straight from the mouth of babes. πŸ™‚

    also? so glad you have had this time with your fam! and your husband is truly a rockstar.

  • This is awesome. Every single part of it. Except for worrying when pregnant.

    And? I love the Four Seasons: every time you post about them, I drool and daydream: just complete proof that bloggers like you are the best possible marketers around.

    Four Seasons: Jessica Shyba is the smartest connection you’ve ever made. You had me at Emergency Kit.

    • I was thinking the SAME THING! Now I want to stay there.

  • oh mama, i know that was so stressful for you. i’m so glad you were able to have a bit of a silver lining with awesome pics sent to you from your man. and i’m grateful that everyone is ok. hugs to you!

  • It’s amazing how strong that mother-child bond is sometimes…the fact that you were safe and trying so hard to get BACK to your kids during a dangerous storm. It would make no sense to most people, but as a mom I felt myself willing you back to New York as I read this so you could be there for them.

    So glad everyone stayed dry and cozy and safe!!

  • Here is why you win at motherhood… you thought to have little gifts for them at the Four Seasons.

    I’m glad you got some time to yourself. You deserve it.

  • Thanks so much for posting this. I’m quite homesick for NYC now that we just settled in Atlanta. Seeing the pictures and knowing it all worked out for the best made me feel a little more connected.

    Glad your family weathered it all like champs and the silver lining of your California family being with you was such a treat.

  • Wow what an eventful couple of days, so glad everyone was safe!

  • Oh man,I can’t wait till my feet are on california soil again. Home Sweet Home, both LA and Walnut Creek..home. I don’t think I realized you were in CA for quite that long! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but your mom, sis and you are all gorgeous! Moms got the secret to staying young, doesn’t she?

  • i can’t imagine being in that situation. glad everything worked out. πŸ™‚

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