Nancy Dodderidge and her husband, Dan, were sitting in a Cornell Hospital waiting area watching the second plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Then they called me in to have a baby. It was very confusing and frightening,” recalled Nancy.
Dodderidge’s husband, Dan worked for Morgan Stanley at the time, which had offices in the doomed complex. Later, he would find out that a dozen people he knew died in the office he frequented.
So it was especially fortuitous that he found himself instead that Tuesday morning at the Upper East Side’s Cornell Hospital telling a skittish physician he needed “100% of your attention and focus,” if she was to perform the scheduled Cesarean section on his shaking wife. The thinking, recalled Nancy, a lawyer, was “let’s get it done before the influx of people” expected in the emergency room, but who never came.
Brooke – one of about 370 babies born in New York City that day - was born at 11:20 a.m. and given the unofficial middle name of “Hope.” Their healthy, beautiful baby was almost a human consolation prize, “the one sign of hope and one happy occurrence that day,” Nancy recalled.
The Dodderidges were not glued to the television like other families in the days following 9/11. “I was nursing her and didn’t want to take in all that anxiety while I was feeding her. I’ve never seen the pictures. I’ve been insulated from all that imagery.”
As has Brooke.
Following the birth of Brooke, their second child, the Dodderidges moved from the Upper East Side to Chappaqua. (Their son, Bradley, is 12.) They have always studiously avoided mentioning anything about 9/11 to their daughter. “We never link the two events,” Nancy explained, because they want their daughter to have an untainted, joyous birthday just like any other child.
The Dodderidges have taken a tactful, “need to know” approach in informing Brooke about the other events that unfolded the day she was born. When she asked why newscasters and other people always seemed to be talking about her birthday, “I told her the U.S. was attacked that day and left it at that,” said Nancy.
Then, last year, Brooke came home crying. “A girl told me my birthday was unlucky,” she recalled.
“We told her that it was a bad day for a lot of people but one of the luckiest days of our lives,” said Nancy, an attorney.
“That made me feel better,” said Brooke. “If it really was unlucky, I might have bad luck.”
Last year, Brooke had a rock climbing party to celebrate turning nine. This year there will be a family dinner and a gathering with friends. Sept. 11 2001, said Brooke, “was such a bad day, but it was a good day for me.”