When Marangely Gonzalez fled the World Trade Center after hearing an explosion from a cafeteria in the second tower Sept. 11, every step she took was a struggle to save not one, but four lives.
Gonzalez, who was 3 1/2 months pregnant at the time, gave birth to healthy triplets Jan. 14 at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Ridgewood.
A reporter for the New York Board of Trade, she was standing in the cafeteria on the eighth floor when the first plane crashed into the adjacent tower.
We saw a big hole and papers and stuff coming down, but we didnt know what it was, said Gonzalez, who has lived on Onderdonk Avenue in Ridgewood with her husband for the past 11 years.
Already visibly pregnant, Gonzalez was helped down the stairs by a group of colleagues, who left her in the care of a friend once they reached the first floor.
She grabbed my hand and we started running to the front of the building, Gonzalez said.
Soon after they reached the nearby Century 21 department store, a second airplane crashed into the tower they had just fled.
We didnt know what was going on, because the plane hit the other side of the building, said Gonzalez, who joined hundreds of others in fleeing frantically toward the seaport.
She again began running when the tower that had held her offices collapsed, sending a cloud of dust and debris down the street toward what she had thought would be a safe haven, about four blocks from the site.
Im asthmatic, so I told my friend, Dont let me go, lets keep running. If that smoke catches up to us, Im not going to make it, she said.
Gonzalez ultimately ran about 47 blocks to the safety of her friends Midtown apartment.
She did not actually learn that the explosions were caused by airplanes crashing into the towers until she returned to her Ridgewood home later that afternoon. But by that point, she had little hope for the safety of her three unborn children.
I was like, they were probably dead, because I ran like crazy, said Gonzalez, a native of Puerto Rico.
But she stopped immediately at Wyckoff after returning home, where a sonogram showed that her babies were doing fine despite her traumatic struggle to flee the crashing towers, which left her dehydrated and in a state of shock.
She gave birth by Caesarean section the afternoon of Jan. 14 to one girl named Samantha and two boys, Joseph and Joshua, all of whom are about 16 inches long and weigh over 3 pounds.
In such cases it is very important to remain positive and keep getting support from the loved ones and from the medical professionals, said Dr. Jagat Sharma, the attending physician at Wyckoff. One of the reasons why Marangely Gonzalez got through this is because she has a very loving and supportive family, and also because she was a very compliant patient.
Gonzalez was released from the hospital Monday, and her babies are expected to spend between three weeks and a month at Wyckoff.
But now her attention is focused on caring for the most recent additions to her family. She and her husband Gustavo already have two daughters, Xiomara, 14, and Gerangely, 12.
We dont even know how were going to fit here, said Gonzalez.
Although fitting five children in a small apartment in a two-family home may prove trying, the challenge of parenting appears far less daunting after she faced the events of Sept. 11.
When the first plane hit the tower, the first thing that came to my mind was, Oh my God, Im pregnant. This is happening and Im not going to make it and Im pregnant with triplets and Im going to die, she said. But I made it.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2002 Community News Group
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