‘Sandy Babies’ Might Not Strictly Be Sandy Babies, Say Skeptics


What hath Hurricane Sandy really wrought? Apparently, lots of babies. According to overburdened record books of several New York hospitals, the storm, which hit the Northeast just about nine months ago, along with the resulting blackouts, apocalyptic panic, and the epic boredom that comes from being stuck on the upper floors of a condo tower with only bath candles and some tasteful erotica, may be responsible for a looming uptick in births in July and August.

In its report on the purported Sandy babies, the New York Times manages to interview several expecting couples, toss out some statistics from metro-area hospitals, and summarize a sociological study from India that linked declining birthrates with the civilizing influence of electricity without once mentioning birth control. Stuck at home and with nothing to do but be afraid of the sky, the logic of the Sandy birthrate surge goes, couples had lots of sex. Lots of sex. Unprotected, baby-making sex, apparently, because when the power goes out, as everyone well knows, condoms and birth control pills immediately stop working. It’s science. Now, thanks to the Great Sandy Fuckathon of 2013, hospitals are anticipating a 10 to 30 percent spike in midsummer births.

Sure, maybe condoms weren’t high on the list of emergency storm supplies when New Yorkers were pillaging their local drugstores for batteries and peanut butter, but still — did power-outage storm boredom really cause the apparent rise in pregnancies? Maybe not, says Dr. Michael R. Berman, medical director for labor and delivery at Beth Israel Medical Center, although it’s tempting to think so. He told the Times that he initially fell prey to the seductive storm + isolation + expired wine = babies equation, but remembered that little ditty about correlation not implying causation.

When news of the Sandy baby boom first made the rounds back in February, people pointed to the Indian study, but they needed only gaze into the not-so-distant past to see what previous New York blackouts produced in the way of progeny. The 1965 power failure in the Northeast failed to significantly stir anyone’s loins, and no remarkable effects on birthrates were discovered. Nine months after the 2003 blackout, moreover, birthrates actually declined in the New York area.

Sandy, however, wasn’t just a blackout — it was an enormous storm sent from the heavens to remind people in Manhattan that their island, after all, occupies a very precarious position, geographically speaking. Maybe urban dwellers thought they’d be cut-off from the outside world forever and so set about remaking civilization in a way that was most pleasing to them. Maybe normally overworked couples who’d been trying for kids finally found the consolidated fuck time that they’d been missing out on with some unexpected time off from work and no Internet to waste precious prurience on.

However it happened, there will be more births in the New York area this summer, and though it’s probably not quite correct to call this latest fleet of infants “Sandy babies,” being conceived in a fit of passion during a raging hurricane does make for a pretty good origin story. At least, it’s way more dramatic than being conceived after your parents binge-watched Game of Thrones while they killed a bottle of Fetzer Chardonnay together, pajama-draped limbs entwined on the couch, snug inside a cocoon of their own flatulence.

Preparing 9 Months for the Fruits of a Storm [NY Times]

Image via Shutterstock, Zacarias Pereia da Meta.

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