This day in history

September 11, 2001. A day that changed our lives. It’s been referred to as this generation’s Kennedy assassination — everyone remembers where they were when it happened. As the unbelievable images flooded the TV and the tragedy unfolded, our brains struggled to comprehend the horror of what was happening in Lower Manhattan.

Four planes hijacked and intentionally crashed into three buildings — both towers of the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. That third plane crashed into a remote area of Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target.

I was pregnant with my favorite girl on this fateful day. My #1 son was a toddler in the throes of the terrible twos, and life was hectic. The day before the attack, I suffered what I thought was a terrible thing. I had my ultrasound to check the development and health of my unborn child. We wanted that child’s gender to be a surprise, as it was with my first pregnancy. So many things in this life of ours are structured and scheduled and planned to the hilt that the idea of hearing my OB-GYN say “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” very much appealed to me. My sweet mama, however, did not like that plan because it thwarted her shopping efforts for my unborn children. That motivated YaYa wanted to buy pink or blue, not gender-neutral colors. She disapproved, but I held firm, and we were indeed surprised and delighted to learn of that first baby’s gender at the moment he entered the world.

The men in my husband’s family like to close ranks, and produce lots and lots of boys. My hub is one of four boys, as is his dad and one uncle. There were 14 boys born in a row in that family. Girls seem to not be on the menu, and the hub’s family predicted yet another boy for the clan. When my #1 son entered the world in 1999, they likely smiled smugly at the interloper (me) who insisted there was a 50/50 chance either way. Boy or girl didn’t matter to me; either one would be great.

Fast forward a couple of years later and again I pursued my surprise. Despite the family history of lots of boys, I still didn’t want to know until that child’s birthday. At the ultrasound on September 10, 2001, we peered over my big belly to peek at the fuzzy image on the monitor. The baby on the screen appeared quite clearly and cooperated fully in our efforts to count fingers & toes while avoiding glimpses of the boy- or girl-parts. That baby cooperated fully, but did it with his/her right arm laid across his/her face, as if to convey the inconvenience he/she suffered as he/she afforded us a quick glimpse into that underwater world. Little did we know that this dramatic gesture in utero would prove to be a harbinger of things to come.

We laughed about the dramatic gesture but did not speculate as to the gender of the child-to-be who would act that way, even before being born. We were clear about not wanting to know. We reiterated our wish to be surprised. We said it multiple times in multiple ways. And still, the doctor slipped. My heart was broken.

I went to bed with a heavy heart and a perhaps misguided anger toward that blabby-mouthed doctor. I awoke to images on The Today Show that made no sense. My pity party was officially over.

A few months later, a baby girl was born.

The all-boy trend came to a screeching halt, and sugar & spice became the fragrance du jour. Trucks, dinosaurs, and baseballs were joined by fluffy stuffed toys, floral patterns, and giant hair bows.

Twelve years later, my #1 son and my favorite girl will discuss the al-Qaeda attacks in their social studies classes. A lot has changed in the 12 years since the terrorist attacks. My busy toddler is now a 9th grader, and that dramatic baby in my tummy is a 6th grader. Twelve years later, my little darlings are not all that little anymore, and before long they’ll be spreading their wings and setting off on their grown-up lives. The world is a different place now than it was before the terrorist attacks. More dangerous? Perhaps. Less secure? Certainly, at least in our minds.

We will never forget.

6 Comments on “This day in history”

  1. David Benbow says:

    Indeed we will never forget. The attack took place six days before my son’s first birthday and we were in full planning mode for the big celebration. With flights being grounded, grandma had to travel to the birthday party by train and no one was really sure if we were allowed to celebrate so soon after the tragedy.

  2. Christy says:

    We all remember exactly where we were that dreadful day. 😢

  3. mmr says:

    Yes, it’s our generation’s Kennedy moment. Hopefully the only one we’ll ever know. I remember running to my son’s elementary school around the corner as soon as I saw it, just in case it wasn’t just New York under attack. This mama bear wanted her baby. Sent you a photo I took in NY a few months ago (was on a harbor cruise with said son, now going to college)– feel free to post it if you can. I think others will enjoy it too.

  4. Jody Hicks says:

    Yes, my dear mother-in-law loved her ten grandsons, but no one was more thrilled to have a granddaughter when her fourth son and his wife had a girl at the age of 40. Although we didn’t have to wait that long, I’m sure we were just as surprised and delighted when Macy was born.

    Remember that our cousin Tony flew out of Boston just a few minutes after those doomed flights on 9/11, but fortunately wasn’t headed home to CA or might have been on one of them. His plane was forced down in St. Louis and he got the last rental car available, which was some kind of extremely expensive sports car, so a few weeks after the initial shock and horror wore off, we were able to get a little comic relief by teasing Tony about how tough it must have been having to drive that car all the way to Denver.

  5. […] I wrote about the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and my friend M, who I met through this […]

  6. […] seeing this photo in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, […]

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