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What it's like to raise children born on Sept. 11, a day marked with tragedy

Heidi Finley, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Parenting News

On Sept. 11, 2010 — 9 years after planes struck the World Trade Center towers in New York, at the Pentagon and crashed in a Pennsylvania field — I was hooked up to contraptions halfway across the country in a hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, bringing new life into the world.

My twins, Kayla and Kendall, were born about 5 weeks early that day with a team of about 30 doctors and nurses standing at the ready for not-quite-emergency C-section. My water had broken the day before, but my labor never progressed and the OB filling in for my own doctor wanted time for steroid shots to open up their tiny lungs. Thankfully it worked, and they only spent about 20 minutes in the stepdown NICU with their big sister, Ava, waiting outside. These girls started out showing they’re tough.

Even with that many people crammed in an operating room, it was eerily quiet that Saturday morning, save for a few comments about that afternoon’s football game. We quickly found that when your birthday is 9/11, it tends to stop people in their tracks.

A day marked with sadness

Every time someone asks the question or reads that date on a form, there’s certainly a pause, and there’s usually a grimace of some kind on their face. Are other things even allowed to happen on that day Americans felt such collective trauma and tragedy?

As they’ve grown, I’ve noticed that even other kids take a beat when the subject comes up. A few weeks ago, Kayla was video chatting over Messenger Kids with her friend Noah, who turned 10 at the beginning of summer, as I eavesdropped while making dinner. He asked when her birthday was, and she answered “September 11.”


“Your birthday is 9/11?,” he asked incredulously.

“Yeah,” she said.

And then there was a long pause before the subject changed.

Teaching little by little


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