What It Meant to Be Pregnant on 9/11

pregnantThe tragic events of September 11, 2001, left a mark on everyone in a different way. From dramatic life changes to small shifts in our attitudes and ways of doing things, no one was unaffected by that day. For those who were pregnant at the time, however, it was an especially transformative time as in those horrific moments the world they thought they were bringing children into became a very different place.

I caught up with five women who were pregnant on 9/11/2001 to talk about how being pregnant on that day was especially significant. They discussed how the events changed their thoughts on parenthood and the ways in which they have raised their children ever since because of them.

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Melissa from Mesa, Arizona, was 34 weeks at the time.

When I saw damage on TV from the first plane my first thought was that it was an accident. When the second plane hit I knew in an instant that it wasn't an accident. My next thought was for my unborn daughter. She was my first child and I felt an incredible instinct to protect her at all costs. I wondered what it meant for her future. I wished she could stay in my womb forever so I could keep her safe.

The events of 9/11 made my responsibility as a parent very real very quickly.  I was going to have to protect this child at all costs no matter what the future held for us. In the uncertainty of 9/11 I also had to consider the possibility that I would have to protect the baby from harm before she was even born. It was a scary time, for sure. I wasn't sure what would be happening by my due date in October. If there were further attacks I didn't even know if there would be medical care available. 

Susan Smith was four months pregnant and living in Toronto at the time.

My husband and I were looking forward to raising a child who would hopefully become a positive and valued member of society. The events of 9/11 just strengthened that resolve. As cliche as it may be, with the future of the planet/world in our children's hands, it reinforced the notion to me that we as parents each have the ability to mold and guide them in a manner which could prevent another situation like this from happening.

If anything, the events of 9/11 and the incalculable loss felt not just by me, but by people the world over, heightened my desire to 'protect' my unborn child. It also reminded me (as such devastating situations are apt to do) that we should strive to embrace life, to live it to the fullest and not to 'sweat the small stuff'!

Sinikka Mondini of Washington, D.C. was 12 weeks pregnant and was planning to tell her employer about her pregnancy on that day.

I'm not sure my views changed immediately, but I know the long-term effects were felt for me up to a year after my son was born. First we endured 9/11 and having armed military personnel walking the streets of DC, then a year later we had the sniper shootings throughout the region. I went from being a very strong competent career woman before he was born, to being rather timid and hesitant to make decisions after he was born. I remember feeling desperate to protect him from all the bad things around us. It was exhausting.  Was that 9/11 or having a newborn baby in our life -- I'll never be sure. I know that by the time the sniper issue came around -- I felt a strong flight (rather than fight) response to being in DC.

I was looking yesterday at photos of 9 year olds who lost their fathers on 9/11. I couldn't help but make comparisons to my son and our lives. He is blessed to have two very active parents in his life. I looked at those photos and felt so deeply for the children who never knew their fathers the way my son knows his father.

Laurie Roiger from Monticello, Minnesota, was six months pregnant with her first son that day.

I was already nervous about delivery, as I had had a full-term stillbirth in January 2000. I was so engrossed in the news media from 9/11 that I hadn't felt my son moving. The next evening I went to the Maternal Assessment Center and had an ultrasound, very nervous that something had happened. He was fine, and three months to the date of 9/11, I gave birth to my son Brayden, on December, 11, 2001. I have another son who is 14 months younger than Brayden. I wanted to have them close together and feel that they will be there for each other during tough times. We're very protective of them, maybe a little too much; but I'm also more encouraged to let them have a "real childhood" because we all grow up way too fast.

Donna Ballman of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gave birth to her daughter just two weeks after 9/11.

I put a magazine that had lots of pictures and articles about 9/11 in her baby book so she would know what was going on when she was born. It’s funny, because it was such a happy time for us, having a new daughter, that the happiness overrode the scary parts. Having her just then made me optimistic for the future. I knew that life goes on because I had living proof of that.

We want our daughters to know they can’t live their lives in fear. There have been scary world events since the beginning of time. Life goes on, and you need to live it and enjoy it while you can.

How did the events of 9/11 change your thoughts about parenting?


Image via Marcelo Cantarela/Flickr

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