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Name: Joan Ford
Age: 39
Hometown: Aliso Viejo, Calif.

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I was set on never having children. I was happy and comfortable with my life and career. I believed I had enough meaning and purpose in my life without being "shackled" (so I thought) as a woman and person. Then Sept. 11th happened.

One morning, after another sleepless night with images of the victims running hauntingly through my head, it came to me. Life is so short. You never know what's going to happen. Life is difficult; no matter how much we want to believe that it will be easy, it never is and never will be. And life is without deep meaning if you can't share it with someone else.

My husband and I, although terrified, decided to "jump off the deep end" and have children. We didn't know if we were ready or not, but we felt that because of life's transitory state, it was one thing that we would regret doing if we allowed it to pass us by.

We began trying that October (a month after 9/11). I didn't get pregnant until the following August, and by that time, we were so afraid of not being fertile, that we were ready and overjoyed when it finally happened.

We had our first daughter on May 24, 2003. We had our second daughter on October 5, 2005.

The decision to have our children was the best decision we ever made. Yes, we have sleepless nights and trying moments. But we have a purpose and sense future that we didn't have before.

Having children brings you back to the basics, back to the essence of life, back to what's really important -- just as September 11th did -- but more than anything, children give you hope, which is something we all desperately need after 9/11.

***

Name: Katy McCarthy
Age: 46
Hometown: New York, N.Y.

I lived a block from the World Trade Center. I was in the subway underneath the WTC while it was all happening, only to emerge a little bit uptown by work to see the WTC on fire. Not clear or understanding what was happening I went to work to find out.

I never returned home to live in my apartment. I was unable to access my building until late October. Bought all new things and moved in with my current boyfriend in the West Village with no place else to go.

It cemented our relationship that was stuck in neutral – going through all that with him and having him there for me.

We decided to try and have a baby for fear of losing precious time in our life. I got pregnant at Christmas 2001 and our son, Luke Thomas, was born the following 9/12 by a scheduled c-section.

For medical reasons, I had to have a c-section and was given a choice of that week. So we settled on 9/12/2002 instead of 9/11.

It was life-altering and put everything into perspective. And we are still living in NYC -- with our almost-4-year-old son!

***

Name: Bill Coskrey
Age: N/A
Hometown: New Orleans, La.

The events of 9/11 showed me how fragile life is and how quickly and unexpectedly life can end.

I suddenly realized I was unhappy in my daily life, and I left a 14-year relationship and moved to a different area of the country.

I am no longer willing to settle for living in a relationship that does not meet my most important needs.

***

Name: Ann Forbes
Age: 42
Hometown: Atlantic Highlands, NJ

My husband and I were married for almost 15 years before we had our first child. It wasn't for lack or wanting or trying, but we were having significant difficulties conceiving.

I was in NYC on 9/11; it had been only my second time in the city all year and I was just there for the day. I was not at Ground Zero, but nevertheless, it took me about 12 hours to get home to New Jersey.

After finally arriving home, I sat watching the news the next day and one show featured two psychologists who were discussing the emotional and psychological impact of 9/11 and had very different viewpoints.

Once doctor said the event was so traumatic that no one should make any big decisions so soon. That people needed to let things settle down before they make any major life changes. The other doctor's opinion was that, if this event (i.e., 9/11) didn't cause people to reevaluate their lives and make changes, then nothing would.

I chose to take the advice of the 2nd doctor. Two days later, I asked for a voluntary severance package at my job of 15 years and immediately began working with a new fertility doctor.

I stopped working in Dec. '01 and became pregnant in Jan. '02. Today, we are the happy parents of two little girls ages 3 years and 9 months.

Although 9/11 was tragic, it was the wake-up call I needed to seek medical intervention to start a family. Without a doubt, the best decision I ever made.

***

Name: Martha Ott Jennings
Age: 56
Hometown: Columbia, Mo.

I think everyone in the world must have been changed that horrible, memorable day. The events made me launch into an "email and call everyone you know and care about" mode just to say I cared and to make sure all were alright.

I also emailed my high school sweetheart, whom I had not seen or spoken to in over 30 years. That one email precipitated a 4.5 year unbelievably romantic and tumultuous affair with him.

We both felt so vulnerable after 911, and like so many people, felt that "life was too short" to not act upon such strong feelings.

I divorced my husband of 20 years, and he promised he would leave his wife. Unfortunately, this never happened, and just this past April, we parted ways in a not so loving manner. I am working on a book which is a compilation of all of the emails from shortly after 9/11 until April of 2006.

My experience is not earth shattering, or even very significant in the whole scheme of things. I do believe that many of us acted and perhaps continue to act/behave differently since 9/11.

It definitely changed the way I look at the world, and at my own life. I'm sure you will hear many touching, heart wrenching stories from people all over the world. It is something we will never forget, isn't it?

As an aside, I do believe many Americans have become less alert and have reverted to a false sense of security as the years have passed since the tragedy. Not I.

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