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Anniversary of September 11th brings new life and new hope

 


Jennifer Delorenziz put the horror of her escape from the collapsing World Trade Center behind her when she gave birth...on September 11. Dublin-born Jennifer went into labour as thousands gathered on the first anniversary of the terror attacks to pay tribute to those who died.

Jennifer, who survived after fleeing her crumbling office in the building linking the Twin Towers just in time, planned to spend the day watching the memorial service on TV. But instead she became mum to Jessica Carolyn, a healthy 6lb 5oz, in a New York hospital.

Jennifer, 32, says: “I wasn’t due to give birth until September 22 and I never thought my baby would be born on September 11, of all days. “My maternity leave hadn’t even started. I was supposed to be at work but our new offices overlook Ground Zero so my doctor advised me to stay away because the area would be too crowded for a heavily pregnant woman.

“I had planned to stay at home, relax and watch the memorial service on TV but I started having contractions. At first I thought, ‘This can’t be happening — not on September 11.’ But the baby was determined to be born on that date.

“I was rushed into hospital and by 6pm I was cradling Jessica in my arms. The staff were crying when I told them my story — no one could believe it."

Jennifer & Jessica

John & Jennifer married in Ireland

Jennifer left Dublin for the US in 1991 and got a job as a PA for financial company Refco, on the 22nd floor of the Green Building beneath the World Trade Center towers. She met electrician John Delorenziz and they married in Ireland in April last year.

She was back at work on September 11 a year ago when the first plane hit — and the impact rocked her building. She says: “I rushed to the window and a burning body fell inches from my face. I was terrified. Flaming jet fuel covered the sides of the building and debris and more bodies were raining down outside. People were jumping from the top floors and you could see them falling — it was horrific.

“When the second jet hit we were told to evacuate. The explosion broke all the lifts so we had to fight our way down 22 flights of stairs, pushing through the choking dust. People were so terrified that they were silent. All anyone could think about was getting out. When we reached ground level, we were told to meet in Liberty Street, by the towers. But instinct told me to get further away and I ran uptown. Thousands of hysterical people were streaming through the streets and I was picked up by the human tide and pulled along.

“I had just started running when I heard a huge roar and looked up to see the first tower collapse. If I had been standing on Liberty Street I would have been dead.”

After the second tower crumbled, Jennifer walked 14 miles to her home, covered in dust and debris. She was found by a Red Cross worker who contacted her desperately worried family.

She and John had previously talked about starting a family but after Jennifer’s amazing escape they decided not to wait. John, 33, was shocked when Jessica was born on the anniversary of the nightmare but Jennifer says: “I knew it was a sign from God that he is looking after me — and my baby.

“I was in tears that she’d chosen this date to be born. Jessica’s birth has given us hope for the future that something wonderful could be born from something tragic.”

The birth was also a surprise to Jennifer’s family back in Ireland, who were reliving memories of their agonising 11-hour wait last year to find out if she was alive.

Her sister Amanda, 31, also a PA, from Dublin, recalls: “I was at work on September 11 last year and when the first plane hit one of the towers we all presumed it was just an accident. When the second jet hit, I was terrified. I realised it was a deliberate attack and my sister was caught in the middle of it.

“I rushed home to find Mum and Dad watching TV in tears. When the towers collapsed I was hysterical. We didn’t know if she was alive or dead and I was sure she was buried under tons of rubble. Our relatives were ringing every few minutes but we told them to get off the phone and keep the line clear in case Jennifer was trying to call us.”

The family tried to contact Jennifer but all telephone lines to New York were down. Back in America, John was frantically calling her mobile but the networks were jammed. He set off to the rescue centre at New York’s Yankee stadium but could not find his wife and began to fear the worst.

But at 9pm her family got a call saying Jennifer had been found alive. Amanda says: “When the Red Cross rang to say she was safe, it was like winning the lottery. We were screaming and crying and hugging each other. But we still couldn’t quite believe it and we were worried in case there had been a mix-up and maybe she wasn’t OK after all.”

At 11pm Jennifer finally managed to phone her family. Amanda says: “When I heard her voice, I broke down. I was sobbing my heart out. September 11 changed all our lives — but for the better. Before we used to speak once a month, now we talk every week and e-mail almost every day.

“We were thrilled when we found out she was expecting a few months later but it never crossed our minds that the baby would be born on September 11. When Jennifer went into labour we knew it was a wonderful sign that life goes on and there is hope.”

Now the family are planning a trip to New York for Jessica’s christening.

Amanda says: “It will be the first time we have all been together since Jennifer and John’s wedding. We feel blessed that Jennifer got out alive — and we are doubly lucky to have little Jessica.

“I know many people will remember September 11 as a day of mourning but we are happy we can remember it as something to celebrate. It brings a little bit of light back into the world.”

 

Jennifer hails from Dublin originally and is the daughter of James Joseph Kavanagh and Therese Smyth. She has three sisters - Amanda, Olivia and Suzanne.

 


Copyright © Jane Barnes & The Sun Newspaper