The Invasion of the Sandy Babies: Superstorm Skyrockets Summer Birth Rate

When we hear the word “Sandy,” numerous images come to mind: downed subway lines for days/weeks/months; the Rockaways; that famous New Yorker cover photo of the city shrouded in darkness; the relief money struggles; and, of course, blackouts–if only to name a few. For most of those who weathered it, “aphrodisiac” is not synonymous with one of the worst storms New York City has ever seen. But apparently, that was the case for hundreds of couples across the five boroughs.

From pun-filled stories in the New York Post and the New York Times, we are presented with the sexual side of Superstorm Sandy: This summer, hospitals in the Big Apple will see an estimated 10 to 30 percent increase in births following the storm that hit seven months (and counting) ago. And, since parents have to ruin everything, this incoming batch will be referred to their entire lives as “Sandy babies.”

“We started noticing a couple of weeks ago that we were getting really busy with phone calls and lab results and charts. We were like, what is going on here?” a nurse manager told the Post. “… I looked at between July 15 and Aug. 15, which is when those people would be due, and sure enough, we have about a third more people delivering during that period than we usually have.”

And, looking back on it, that makes complete sense. Couples are stuck inside for at least two weeks, the lack of heat demands constant physical contact, and you can only complain about not having wifi so many times, right? Without Netflix, cellphones, or brunch, all you’re left with is sex (and Monopoly).

In this sense, sex is a result of boredom and, nine months later, the baby is a result of that boredom. Call it fate, call it the circle of life, call it whatever. Hurricane Sandy made people horny–plain and simple.



C’mon, New York City Babies, Learn To Dodge Bullets Already

For the third time since July, a baby failed to get out of the way of a stray bullet in one of New York’s five boroughs — and since the people of Gotham clearly aren’t going to stop shooting each other, we at the Voice feel it’s far time that babies take a little initiative here and learn to dodge bullets; if Keanu Reeves can do it, anyone can.

The latest tot to fall victim to gun violence is only 2 months old. Luckily, the boy wasn’t seriously injured.

According to authorities, the boy, Trayvon Brunson, was getting pushed in a stroller near the Seneca Housing Projects in Hunts Point about 10:30 last night when gunfire rang out.

Brunson was grazed in the back. He’s expected to survive.

In July, a Bronx boy wasn’t so lucky.

On July 22, 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan was fatally shot during a charity basketball tournament at the Forest Houses project in Morrisania.

Authorities say at least 13 rounds were fired from either side of the basketball court and adjacent playground during the brief shootout. One of the rounds hit Morgan in the head as he stood with his mother near the playground.

Just a few weeks earlier, 3-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez caught a bullet in the leg during a shootout in Bed-Stuy. At the time, Isaiah was playing in a sprinkler at a park when the pair of thugs fired multiple shots at a group of people playing dice nearby.

Thankfully, Gonzalez survived.

As if shooting a baby isn’t slimy enough, Matthew Cohen, the attorney for alleged shooter Stanley Williams, tried to argue that the shooting wasn’t the end of the world because, “This is not a homicide” and “the alleged injury is not that severe.”

As we mentioned, Gonzalez is 3 — but oh well.

Again, New York, we wouldn’t continue to have these problems if you would simply teach your babies to dodge bullets.


Watch Congressman Todd Akin Explain Where Babies Come From

Despite making a complete jackass out of himself with his comments that “legitimate” rape victims have the magical ability to wish away their unwanted rape babies, Congressman Todd Akin announced this afternoon that he plans to remain in the Missouri Senate race against Senator Claire McCaskill — even as member of his own party are urging him to call it quits.

To celebrate what we can only hope will be a few more months of Akin idiocy, we bring you a video of a speech Akin gave to a group of Missouri Tea Party-ers last year, during which Akin — and his wife — explain how babies are made at the Akin household.

Don’t worry, Akin steps in before things get too pervy, but the Akin-approved baby-making process apparently involves him, his wife, her womb, and the home the two share.

Unlike Akin’s apparent understanding of how abortion works, it does not include wishing, magic, or a woman’s body’s inexplicable (read: non-existent) ability to tell the difference between a rape baby and a baby conceived with a consensual partner.

See the video below (and kudos to Hunter Walker at Politicker for shrinking the speech down to 30 seconds so we don’t have to watch 19 minutes of a rape-denier
at a Tea Party rally. If you’re dying to see the full speech, though, click here).


Attention, Brooklyn: Stop Blingin’ Out Your Babies!

For the second time in less than a week, a toddler in Brooklyn was mugged for an expensive piece of jewelry. This morning, the New York Post penned an article about the latest robbery with the lede “No toddler is safe in this city!,” and the The Post is right; no toddler is safe — as long as their bone-head parents keep decking out their kids in pricey bling!

The latest item stolen is a $300 bracelet that was taken from the wrist of a 2-year-old. The last robbery was a $400 chain that was ripped off the neck of a 3-year-old. Both robberies occurred in relatively rough neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Bushwick and Bed-Stuy).

That said, we wouldn’t let a toddler run around in an empty field in Upstate New York wearing anything that costs more than $40, let alone in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn, and here’s why: being completely defenseless aside, babies are stupid.

New York City thieves aren’t evil, they’re opportunistic. When they see a baby wearing a $400 chain, they don’t see a chain, they see $400. They also don’t see a baby — they see $400 that won’t put up a fight.

Your baby getting robbed shouldn’t even be your biggest concern — kids lose shit all the time, and just because something costs $400 doesn’t mean a stupid baby isn’t going to lose it.

A baby doesn’t care how much a bracelet he or she is wearing costs, and that’s because babies don’t have jobs and don’t understand what money is — they have no idea what $400 even means, and don’t care (for more than 20 minutes) when
something that costs $400 is lost or stolen.

Blingin’ out your baby is adorable, and all, but if your kid is robbed for an expensive piece of jewelery by some creep in a bad neighborhood, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Like puppies, all babies
know is that they like shiny things — regardless of how much they cost. So just strap some tinfoil to your
rugrat’s wrist and save yourself the trouble.


Oops! 37 Percent of U.S. Births Unintended

In 1982, 37 percent of U.S. births were unintended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And guess what?

In 2010, 37 percent of U.S. births, the latest year for CDC stats, were ALSO unintended.

Meaning: Public health authorities have kindasortaTOTALLY failed at preventing unintended births.

So what’s up?

These new stats, released today, consider mistimed or unwanted births as “unintended.”

What’s different today than some 30 years ago?

Well, there are fewer unintended births among white women, but this demographic now also accounts for fewer births overall.

The study notes that: “unmarried women, black women, and women with less education or income are still much more likely to experience unintended births compared with married, white, college-educated, and high-income women.”

This suggests that the ability to decide when to have a kid varies depending largely on demographics.

You might wonder why this is so important?

Well, unintended births pose significant economic risks to moms-to-be.

As detailed by HealthDay, women who have unintended births tend to be poorer, and 35 percent of these births are paid for by Medicaid.

“That’s an indicator that she wasn’t ready,” study author William Mosher said. “She wanted to finish high school, college, job training or get married before she had a baby.”

Also, unintended births are expensive, costing the U.S. healthcare system $11 billion annually.


Babies: More Time in The Womb Means More Success in School, Study Finds

Time to further complicate the nature-versus-nurture debate…

A new study published today in Pediatrics suggests that academic achievement and brain development are directly tied to gestational time — how long a kid is in the womb.

What’s unique about this study, which tracked 128,050 New York City births, is that researchers examined standardized test scores of 8-year-olds born within a normal age range — rather than comparing them to premature children.

What it found: “Analyses revealed that gestational age within the normal term range [37-41 weeks] was significantly and positively related to reading and math scores in third grade, with achievement scores for children born at 37 and 38 weeks significantly lower than those for children born at 39, 40, or 41 weeks.”

But what about other variables — such as birth weight, whether the mother smokes, and socioeconomic factors — you might ask?

Well, the researchers figured that into their calculations too, and found that it really didn’t matter: There was still a measurable difference in reading and math ability.

As the Daily News notes, 2.3 percent of kids born at 37 weeks had “severely poor reading skills and 1.1 percent had at least moderate problems in math.”

Only 1.8 percent of kids born four weeks later had these reading problems, and .9 percent had problems in math.

And: “Children born at 37 weeks were also a third more likely to have severe reading difficulty in third grade, and a 19 percent greater chance of having moderate problems in math, compared with 41-weekers.”

Of course, these findings will surely raise a few eyebrows: not only does it prompt questions about the medical definition of prematurity — it also prompts questions about the relationship between early Caesarean sections and infant health.



FYI: Your Birth Control Might Not Work

Here’s some important info if you don’t want a kid: neither the transdermal patch, vaginal ring, nor pill are the best way to go about birth controllin’.

According to a recently released New England Journal of Medicine study, intrauterine devices(IUDs), under-the-skin implants, and Depo-Provera shots work better — they have a 1 percent failure rate, compared to the other methods’ 9 percent rate.

Before ringing up your gyno in a fit of panic — OK, we’re so not the only ones who read about this and flipped a shit — here are some more deets about these popular contraceptive choices.

Out of the 7486 study participants tracked for three years, 334 accidentally got pregnant. For women using the pill, patch, or ring, the failure rate was:

“4.55 per 100 participant-years, as compared with 0.27 among participants using long-acting reversible contraception…among participants who used pills, patch, or ring, those who were less than 21 years of age had a risk of unintended pregnancy that was almost twice as high as the risk among older participants. Rates of unintended pregnancy were similarly low among participants using DMPA injection and those using an IUD or implant, regardless of age.”

In other words, long-acting reversible contraception works way better.

One of the study’s author told the Times: “When women say to me that they want to use the pill, I say, ‘That’s fine, but it’s 20 times less effective than an IUD.'”

This news probably won’t make Big Pharma too happy, but hey: Maybe this will silence demands that we pay taxes on our “whore pills?”

[H/T New York Times]


There Is No Right Time To Be A Parent: Quit Worrying And Have Some Damn Babies Already

When I called my mom up on the phone to let her know that I’d had my first child — a healthy, happy baby boy who just happened to be like four months old at that point — she sighed. “Well,” she said, “I can’t say I’m surprised.” It was about three weeks after the first time I met him, in the waiting room of the paternity clinic, and I had the test results in hand. They didn’t surprise me, either. Even though the paternity had been between me and one other guy, from the second I saw that baby, I knew — I just knew — he was mine. Partly because the guy was Italian, and this baby didn’t look Italian at all, but I’m still pretty sure the other part was some kind of paternal instinct. Either way, I was 20 years old and I was a father, and what I felt about that was about 80 percent terror.

I was not what you’d call “prepared” for fatherhood. I knew nothing about babies, had read no parenting books, had never changed a diaper or prepared infant formula or soothed an infant’s cry. I wasn’t what my friends would have described as “parenting material.” I was, rather, a high-school dropout with few prospects who, at the time I took over as the baby’s father, was holding the first job I’d ever managed to hold for more than about five months (that one lasted nine). In retrospect, actually, I’m sure the baby was equally frightened — like, who is this bumbling-ass dude I’m spending every other weekend with all of a sudden?

I was not ready. It was not the right time.

My experience is fairly unique among my demographic — educated 20- to 30-something white people with upwardly mobile careers, most of whom don’t have kids at all, let alone kids who are 9 years old already. I was a young parent. But I wasn’t a particularly young parent when my second son was born nine months ago, when I was 29. He was my girlfriend’s first. She was 27, which is not all that young, either. Still, her decision to start a family even in her late 20s gets a fair amount of raised eyebrows among her grad-school group of peers — particularly, it seems, the women. “Oh, you had a baby? That must be so much to handle!” these women tell my girlfriend, sometimes while actually holding our baby. “Yeah, I want to have kids too someday, but I’m really focusing on my career right now. Me and Mark are just waiting for the right time.” On a side-note, their boyfriends are all named Mark.

And so they wait. And they wait. And the length of time they wait for is, more and more, getting pretty ridiculous. Last week, the New York Times ran a story about an emerging and baffling trend: older parents, who, aware of the maddening ticking of the biological clock, are paying their aging, 30-something daughters to have their eggs frozen in the hope of warding off their rapidly decreasing odds of having grandchildren one day. It’s a revealing example of the bizarre side of what has become the conventional wisdom — reinforced by actual science! — that it’s better to wait to start a brood. In fact, science claims to have pinpointed the figure: a few years ago, the National Institute of Ageing and the National Institute of Mental Health concluded that the best time to have a baby is at exactly age 34, claiming that stress problems associated with having a family tend to drop off steadily until age 34 and then rise again.

Why that rise in problems after 34? Because, of course, in terms of child-bearing, 35 is getting pretty old to be doing it. The older we get, in fact, the precipitously higher the risk of serious pregnancy complications and birth defects associated with eggs that, well, have just been in the fridge too long, so to speak. It’s hard on our bodies. The irony here being, of course, that the cohort of folks paying to freeze their eggs until they’re settled enough in their careers to maybe give parenting a shot is the same cohort of folks most likely to wring their hands about the horrors of teen pregnancy — the time at which our biology most strongly encourages us to have kids in the first place. I mean, good Lord, freezing eggs is hella expensive — the procedure can run a tab of up to $18,000. I’m just saying, if these people had offered to pay their daughters 18 grand to get pregnant when they were still teenagers, I bet they totally would have done it and it would have been way easier. What? I’m just saying.

Bonus: Baby pictures taken before I started balding.
Bonus: Baby pictures taken before I started balding.

And shit, forget gestation – even if a viable embryo makes it through the pregnancy, the childhood is hard on our bodies. Kids are tireless, perpetual little balls of obnoxious energy, and personally, I’ve got a lot less energy of my own to keep up with it at 30 than I did at 20, no doubt about it. Plus, by the time my first kid turns 18 and I heartlessly kick him out of the house to go and seek his fortune with the advantage of all the character he’s built by having grown up with the uncertainty and adversity of young parents with tenuous financial situations, I’ll be a spry 38 — the age at which many of my peers will just be starting to have babies. And I will pity them, and I will say things like, “Oh, you had a baby? That must be so much to handle!”

To some extent, of course, I’m playing the devil’s advocate. I’m not suggesting that doing it the way I did — being a 19-year-old vagrant and knocking up some chick you barely know and then moving to a different city so it takes her like a year to track you down and let you know you might be a father — is the right way to do it. But it wasn’t the end of the world for me, either. I got my shit together and did the deal. I sacrificed. But I don’t regret it. It’s been a hell of an experience and I wouldn’t change it even if I could.

What I am suggesting is that “waiting for the right time” is futile. There is no right time. Having a baby this time around is easier, yeah, but I’d attribute that ease in large part to already having done it and having a better idea of how to go about it and what to expect. For my girlfriend, I’d venture to say it hasn’t been vastly easier for her at 27 than it was for me at 20. Having kids at any age is stressful and selfless and demanding in a way that people who don’t have kids can’t even begin to imagine. It’s also rewarding in the same way. So if you think that sounds worth it — and I think it is — then what I’m saying is quit waiting for a right time that will never come and just do it already.

Because having babies isn’t fucking rocket science. Unless you wait too long. Then it’s pretty much fucking rocket science.

Previous: Babies Are Assholes: The Problem With Attachment Parenting

Jef Otte is a freelance essayist and writer. He lives in Denver with his girlfriend and two kids, who probably wish he would get a real job.


Bloomberg Backs Breastfeeding: Report

In an article titled “Mike: Do What’s Breast for Baby” (no, really), the New York Post reveals the Mayor’s plans to boost breastfeeding at city hospitals.

“He’s cracked down on smoking, trans fats, salt and sugary drinks. And now, Mayor Bloomberg is promoting a new health initiative: breast feeding,” the paper notes. “The Health Department is pushing a sweeping initiative to prod dozens of city hospitals to get more moms in their maternity wards to breast feed.”

Hospitals who want to participate in the “Baby Friendly Hospital” program can get federal funding for “technical assistance.” The move would involve 24 of New York’s 36 medical centers, and would require that they set up a plan to bolster breastfeeding with new moms.

Compared to Bloomberg’s other public health initiatives — which are annoying if you enjoy good food or the occasional cigarette — this one actually makes a lot of sense.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reiterated that breast-fed kids have fewer digestive tract problems and ear infections — and less obesity in the long-term, as noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Of course, a lot will depend on the program’s execution: New mothers shouldn’t get pressured into breastfeeding — they should be presented with the evidence and make whatever choice without feeling goaded or guilty. Based upon Bloomberg’s past public health scare tactics, it’s unlikely we can trust government officials to do that.

Also, economic concerns must be addressed. Women get three months maternity leave, and Centers for Disease Control recs now suggest six months of breastfeeding.

So, to promote this practice without also pushing for mom-friendly employment policies or workplaces neglects the real, financial constraints of contemporary families.

The Voice has reached out to Bloomberg’s office to get more specs.



Baby In Diaper Found Wandering Streets Of Brooklyn at 2 A.M. No, She Wasn’t Selling Weed

Ya know that routine by comedian Dave Chappelle about finding a weed-selling baby wandering the streets in the ghetto in the middle of the night (if not, click “play” on the video embedded above)? Well, life has again imitated art — that really happened early this morning in Brooklyn…sans the part about the baby slangin’ dope, of course.

The 2-year-old girl was found about 2 a.m. near Euclid and Ridgewood avenues in Brooklyn wearing nothing but a diaper. The wandering baby was brought to the attention of police when a passing cab driver saw the toddler and called 9-1-1.

Babies tend to have parents, so authorities went door-to-door in the neighborhood asking if anyone was missing a 2-year-old — which is when they found the girl’s mother, 30-year-old Lady Rosales.

according to an article posted on the WABC website, had left the
girl in the care of a neighbor (what she was doing at 2 a.m. that
prevented her from caring for her 2-year-old child is unclear),
27-year-old Hugo Luna, when the girl apparently wandered away from
Luna’s apartment.

After being found on the sidewalk, police took
the girl to Brookdale University Hospital, where it was determined that
she was OK.

Rosales and Luna, however, are in a bit of trouble — each were arrested on one count each of endangering the welfare of a minor