News & Politics

The Babies of 9/11: “We Have to Be Thankful”

Amid the tragedies of September 11, 2001, came hope—in the faces of children born that day. Six years later, six families look back and talk about their 9/11 babies.

Nina Patton delivered son Nick around the time the plane hit the Pentagon. “It helps brighten a day that doesn’t deserve brightness,” says her husband, Ken.


Nina Patton’s obstetrician suggested September 13 as the delivery date for her third boy, Nick.

“Is there another day?” Nina asked. She was superstitious.

The doctor said he’d perform the C-section on September 11 instead, even though Tuesday was his day off.

On the way to George Washington University Hospital, Nina’s sister told her, “What a beautiful day to have a baby.”

Nina was prepping for delivery when the terrorist attacks started, but she didn’t know about them. “I had to go into the operating room and keep my mouth shut,” says her husband, Ken.

She could tell by Ken’s face something was wrong. “I’ll tell you after,” he said.

Nick was born at 9:44 am, around the time the Pentagon was hit. Ken told his wife about the attacks while she was in recovery.

“It was so hard to enjoy the moment,” Nina says. “After a couple days, we said, ‘Whoa—we have to also be thankful.’ ”

Because the hospital was on disaster alert, Nina’s mother, sister, and the couple’s older children had to leave. Ken saw gurneys lined up and kept hearing sirens.

“I was so scared,” says Nina. “You think someone’s going to tell you it’s going to be okay. He couldn’t.”

Ken comforted his wife while he watched the news over her shoulder. He looked outside and saw people running. He wanted to get his wife transferred to a hospital far from DC: “We started thinking, ‘We have to get out of town.’ ”

Nick, now a kindergartner who likes dodge ball and Webkinz stuffed animals, was one of the few newborns in the nursery.

“I remember looking at him and feeling sad,” says Ken, who works in commercial real estate for the Staubach Company, “thinking all those people who died were once babies, too.”

The Potomac couple says that sometimes it seems as though their son has “been around the world before.” He holds the door for Nina. If she forgets something, he remembers. When the family went jogging one evening, Nick lay on the track and told his mom, “I’m looking at the stars.”

Says Ken: “Something good happened that day.”

Photograph by Simon Bruty