What Is It Like to Be Born on 9/11?
9/11 Birthday Decided in Advance
My daughter was due to be born around the end of September. Due to previous complications having my two sons, we were happy to have an elective C-Section. It was booked for the 20th of September in order to pre-empt labor commencing. After a routine maternity check-up, my midwife phoned me up and said the consultant would like to see me again the following day. He told me they were slightly concerned because she was a large baby and asked if I minded bringing the date forward to the 11th. Of course I didn’t mind… I couldn’t wait to get back to normal again.
The Morning of 9/11
It was a beautiful day. As beautiful here in the UK as it began in New York. There was a few minutes tension as my partner managed to get the keys stuck in the door as he locked the car. There was a little reception committee waiting for us as I was their first ‘customer’ of the day. Everything was light-hearted and peaceful. We had several hours to wait, so settled in and made jokes about the operation and the fact that my partner was dressed in scrubs.
As she was being delivered (I had an epidural so was awake the whole time), the whole team suddenly rushed to the bottom of the operating trolley. Of course, I couldn’t see what was going on and baby was soon delivered and in my partner’s arms. Later I was told that if we’d waited even one more day, the uterus could have ruptured because it was stretched like thin polythene due to the other C-Sections. My daughter was three weeks early and weighed 8lbs 10oz.
My daughter was born an hour before the 9/11 attacks. I was in recovery after a C-section, cuddling my baby when a nurse came in and told me a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Now I’m in the UK and at that time, I didn’t even know where the World Trade Center was precisely. I was still drowsy and said, “That’s terrible,” thinking that she probably meant that it was an accident, a small aircraft. And I went back to focusing on my new daughter.
Fast forward an hour and I was taken to the main maternity ward where huge screens were replaying the horrors that had already occurred and those that were still happening. The whole place was transfixed in horrified silence as the South Tower collapsed. It was 3pm in the UK, 10am in New York. No-one could take their eyes from the tragedy unfolding. We could not imagine the horror of those people caught up in it all. Tears streamed, and babies were held tightly.
That night my brand new baby screamed and screamed. No-one could soothe her or help her. No-one could find anything wrong with her. At 7am the following morning, she finally calmed down and fell asleep.
A Positive Blessing
When I arrived home and got back in touch with my friends in the US, I was surprised how many expressed their warmth and happiness that my girl brought a little light into the world on that awful day. People I didn’t even know got in touch to say congratulations and how wonderful it was to hear some good news. I was so touched and honored and also humbled by the generosity of people who had experienced all this close-up.
What Is It Like to Have a 9/11 Birthday?
In the early years, my daughter wasn’t really affected by her birth date. We turned off the TV and avoided having it intrude on her happy day. However, now she is older and has many online American friends, it affects her more deeply.
I know that she feels guilty celebrating, when so many families are grieving and mourning their loss. I asked her about it, and she says that she doesn’t mention her birthday unless someone notices it on social media. She’s very aware some people may be feeling sensitive.
I asked her about the unavoidable images that are replayed over and over and she says that they don’t affect her because she has learned to disassociate them from herself. It helps that we are a step away, being in another country.
Yet, it is impossible to ignore the fact that her day is overshadowed by something bigger, something so terrible and so sad. I think it is going to become more significant to her with each year that passes.
More Than a 9/11 Birthday
Of course, within the dreadfulness and the horror of 911, there were so many small miracles. Countless heroic deeds. And the coming together of people in a way never seen before. Families reconciled, friendships forged, new connections made and bonds cemented.
It is those things that we like to think about, and celebrate on my daughter’s birthday, and on each anniversary of 9/11. And each time it rolls around we light a candle and remember.
© 2017 Bev