Sunday, September 11, 2011
My due date was September 19. Or September 18, if you went by the date calculated by my doctor.
Throughout my pregnancy, we didn't put too much thought into exactly what date our baby would be born. I mean, why would we? It was something we most certainly didn't have any control over, so speculating or "aiming" for a particular date would have been a pretty big waste of time. Still, in our discussions as normal, excited expectant parents, there were a few casual, fun conversations about it.
I tend to be "into" numbers, so I'll often comment on how I like the "sound" of certain birth dates. To me, there were dates that I thought would be nice birthdays for our baby. Aside from that, there was one date that I hoped we would avoid--9.11.10. Of course, with a September due date, we always knew there was a possibility of having a baby born on 9/11. But I guess we always thought, "What are the chances?" After all, I was due on 9/19, and the general consensus is that most women go late with their first pregnancies. Plus, there are 29 other days in September; we knew that our baby was more likely to be born on any other day BUT September 11.
There were times that other people mentioned the possibility to me--"Oh! Your baby could be born on September 11!" But there was always a feeling of "Yes, but that will probably never happen."
But then, as my due date approached, so did September 11. On Friday, September 10, Michael happened to mention to me that he had a feeling we were going to end up with a September 11 baby, which was strange--because I had been having the exact same feelings. Before I left work that day, I prepared to be gone for maternity leave, because I really felt like I would not be coming back.
It turned out that I was right. And, Michael's and my premonitions were validated, with our little Nora Grace making her appearance at 3:29 a.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2010.
And you know what? It's fine with me. I remember seeing women on pregnancy message boards commenting about how they were PRAYING that they wouldn't have their baby on 9/11. That wasn't me, because I just don't think that it's that big of a deal. (I prayed for a healthy baby, and an easy delivery.) Is it the date I would have chosen, had I had a choice? No. But there are probably thousands of babies who were born on that date after it became THE 9/11. And thousands of people who were born on it before that fateful day.
So, it is not ME who I worry about. My only concern about Nora having a 9/11 birthday has been due to reactions of others. I would hate for Nora to go through her life with people wincing--or worse, commenting--whenever she shares her birth date.
There are plenty of dates with horrible things tied to them. It could be my birthday. It could be yours. Life and death, all on the same days--in times of grieving, aren't we always told that life goes on? New life is only a reminder of that.
But here's the thing about 9/11: It's the only tragedy that is named for the date. For instance, the attacks on Pearl Harbor occurred on December 7, but we don't call the incident "December 7"--we call it "Pearl Harbor." The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building happened on April 19, but we don't refer to it as "April 19"--we say "The Oklahoma City bombing."
The scope of the attacks on September 11 stretched across multiple locations, times, and spaces. And so it came to be dubbed, simply, "September 11." The date itself is therefore negatively marked for eternity. I will never forget. You will never forget. The sights, the sounds, the shock, the fear--those of us who were alive to witness the events of that day are forever changed by them.
My hope is that Nora's generation will know about September 11, but because they did not live through it themselves, the mere mention of it will not conjure up the same negative feelings as it does for those who are older. I hope that she is able to "own" her birth date and not hesitate to tell people about it.
The truth is that Nora's birth on September 11 forever changed (again) that date for me. When I hear it, sure, I think about 9.11.01; who doesn't? But now, the first thing I think of is my beautiful daughter, and how that date marks the beginning of her life. Some of that negative has been displaced by the best positive that there is.
We should all be so lucky to have a child born on September 11.
I love you, Nora.
And your birthday, too.