I was in the office all day on September 10, 2001. Marika, one of my patients, was pregnant with her first child and she'd had a very difficult pregnancy. Troubled by severe hyperemesis (a disorder that results in persistent nausea and vomiting), she had spent more of her pregnancy in the hospital than at home. On September 10, Marika was barely at term and the fluid was decreasing. Her fetus was small and had not grown well. I spoke to my backup physician and she agreed: Marika should be admitted and induced. I went home and returned to the hospital later that evening to continue the induction. Since this was her first baby, I knew it would take all night.
While I was lying down for a brief rest, another patient, Joyce, called to say that she was in labor. The water had just broken and her first baby had come quickly, so I told her to come right in. I delivered her eight-pound baby girl in the triage area at 6:30 a.m. When I finished that delivery and had entered all the information on the hospital computer system, I went back to Marika. By now, she was fully dilated.
As we started to push, someone (to this day I can't remember who) came into the birthing room and said, "A bomb just blew up the World Trade Center." My mind went blank. My next thought was that the hospital would be next, along with the all the other medical facilities on "Hospital Row" on the East Side of Manhattan. I was speechless. While I was leaning over Marika to help her push, her husband Steve clicked on the TV. The screen showed the first plane hitting the north tower. "That's where I work!" Steve said, stunned. Finally, regaining myself and my voice, before the next bomb -- or whatever -- hit the hospital, I said, "Please turn off the TV and let's have your son."
Reggi was born at 9:23 a.m. A baby boy: small, healthy, and screaming.
The second tower had been hit. The towers fell. My beeper never stopped beeping, but no phones worked to answer it, including hospital phones, cell phones, or pay phones. The hospital computer system went down with the towers. The server was located across the street from the World Trade Center, while the hospital is next to Bellevue Hospital and the Medical Examiner's Office... the morgue. The sirens started and never stopped.
Later, Steve told me I had saved his life, because if I hadn't admitted Marika, he would have been at work. In that day of crisis, fear, chaos, and death, there was joy in their new little family. They were all alive. Now, five years later, Reggi will celebrate his fifth birthday.
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