Seymour twins born Sept. 11 share story


When 2,977 lives were tragically lost Sept. 11, 2001, two lives were just beginning.

That morning, Tammy and John Hiester were at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis in preparation of welcoming their twins into the world.

At 8:05 a.m., Arie John Robert Hiester and Aidan Irene Hiester were born. Arie came first and weighed 7 pounds, and Aidan was next weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces.

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Aidan was having some breathing problems, so she was quickly whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit.

While Tammy and John were holding Arie in a recovery room, the OB/GYN and his nurses came in and stood at the foot of Tammy’s bed. She thought something was wrong with Aidan because she hadn’t heard any updates in awhile.

“They were like, ‘There’s nothing wrong. She’s doing amazing. I don’t think we’re going to have her in the NICU more than a day, but there’s big stuff going on in the world,’” Tammy said. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ and they were like, ‘We’re trying to decide if we’re going to let you turn your TV on or not.’”

That’s when she learned terrorists had crashed two planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, and one plane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and another plane went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The twins were born as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. At that time, New York was an hour ahead of Indiana.

John and Tammy still remember the first time they turned on the TV and saw the first tower fall.

“I remember looking at it and I was like, ‘What movie is this?’” John said. “I was so upset. I was determined it was a movie.”

The OB/GYM told him it was real life.

“When the second tower fell, I was like, ‘I can’t watch anymore,’” John said. “The rest of the day was basically spent with me going back and forth between the NICU and Tammy’s room. Tammy didn’t have the TV on at all. She didn’t want to see what was happening.”

Tammy said for several days, the 9/11 coverage was everywhere.

“It didn’t matter what channel you put on, every single channel, every single news, it was all 9/11 forever,” she said. “It was surreal. It was a big panic moment for everybody. It was pretty scary.”

For several days, it was difficult to reach people by telephone. John said he finally was able to get a hold of the Rev. Philip Bloch at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

“I had this incredible joy of the birth of two kids and the biggest tragedy happening in my lifetime,” he said. “The juxtaposition between those two was just phenomenal, and I had a lot of trouble dealing with that.”

Another twist to the story is that it wasn’t until later in Tammy’s pregnancy that she and John learned they were going to have twins.

They already had two children, Andrew and Alexis. Tammy had a miscarriage in October 2000, but she was pregnant again in January 2001.

During her first checkup in March 2001, only one heartbeat was found, and the OB/GYN told her it was strong, so he didn’t think another miscarriage would occur.

By 20 weeks, she said she noticed her belly was bigger than the other times she was pregnant.

“Everybody was like, ‘Well, it’s your fourth pregnancy,’ and I’m like, ‘So fourth pregnancy, is this how big you get?’” Tammy said.

In the ultrasound room, the nurse ran the Doppler across her belly. Tammy said she became scared when the woman looked at her and John a couple of times.

“She goes, ‘Do twins run in your family?’ and I said, ‘No.’ ‘Are you on any fertility?’ ‘No,’” Tammy said.

That’s when they learned they were going to have twins — a boy and a girl.

“They were horizontal,” Tammy said of when the twins were in her womb. “That’s why they only found one heartbeat because the heartbeats were stacked. They found the one and didn’t go up high enough.”

Tammy, who is a dentist in Seymour, wound up working until she was 38 weeks pregnant. She worked Sept. 10 and went to the hospital in Indianapolis with John that night, and the twins were born the next morning via cesarean section.

Five days later, they took the twins home, and Tammy wound up being off work for three weeks.

In 2012, Arie and Aidan’s picture appeared in a twins magazine with information about them and two other sets of twins born Sept. 11, 2001.

Aidan said she remembers being shown pictures and videos about five years after 9/11, but she didn’t understand the magnitude of what happened that day until she was in seventh grade.

“We know on our birthday, we’re still going to see ‘In memory of all of those who lost their lives,’” she said. “We get to see that every time on our birthday, and growing up, we just knew that. I don’t think there was a time we sat down and said, ‘This is what happened.’ I just knew. We would go to school, and everyone’s like, ‘This is the day it happened,’ and we’re like, ‘It’s also our birthday.’”

Tammy said it is hard to be celebratory on their birthday when everyone is mourning the lives lost Sept. 11, 2001.

“That was a really tough thing as a parent,” she said. “Every year, that’s hard.”

Aidan said people stopping to reflect on what happened shows that the world still goes on.

“Every year, we’re still mourning, but we’re still coming together as a nation, we’re still honoring those that are lost,” she said. “Even though that was such a bad day, there’s still good coming out of it. Seventeen years later, we’re still going to see our nation coming together as one and saying, ‘We’re fighting against this. This isn’t going to happen again.’ I think it also taught all of us to fight back, like we can’t fight alone.”

Arie agreed.

“It’s still time to mourn, but it’s not something to stay sad about,” he said. “It’s something to move forward as a people and realize that ‘Yes, this happened, but we need to move forward.’”

Since 9/11, there has been increased security and people taking safety precautions, Arie said.

“I think it has cut down a lot of terrorist attacks, but when they do happen, we are better prepared as people,” he said.

In 2015, Arie and Aidan went on Immanuel Lutheran School’s eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., and Tammy and John were chaperones.

One of the places they visited was Newseum, which features the 9/11 Gallery with pictures and videos from the tragic day and first-person accounts from journalists who covered the story.

“I think that was the one moment that was like, ‘Holy cow! This is so surreal,’” Aidan said. “I was in tears because I just hear the twin towers got hit, but we didn’t know the significance of the twin towers or how many people died that day or what really happened. We don’t really get it just because we were so young. We didn’t get to witness it. It didn’t get to hit us.”

It was a moving moment for Arie, too.

“When I was a kid, you don’t remember much, but that’s when all of the information was dropped,” he said. “As we grew up, there wasn’t much. It was just the twin towers were hit. We never were told the numbers or really anything.”

They also visited the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial during that trip.

John said he hopes to someday take the twins to see the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.

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“Even though that was such a bad day, there’s still good coming out of it. Seventeen years later, we’re still going to see our nation coming together as one and saying, ‘We’re fighting against this. This isn’t going to happen again.'”

Aidan Hiester of Seymour said of remembering the terrorist attacks that occurred Sept. 11, 2001, the day she and her twin brother, Arie, were born


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