Originally created 06/25/02

Babies, babies and more babies



The baby boom hasn't happened - but it's coming.

Attention has been drawn to a fairly typical disaster response to Sept. 11 - an increase in the birth rate nine months later. But despite recent media attention given to the expected phenomenon - both nationally and locally - the baby boom has barely begun, say those who work with expectant mothers.

The real boom is going to happen three, four or even five months from now, they said.

"We think there's been a little bit of a delay," said Kelly Fleming, the owner of Pickles & Ice Cream, a maternity store in Surrey Center that tracks the due dates of its customers. "For June, we have 50 due dates on file, and that should be the biggest month. But we already have an equal number for September, October, November. And those numbers will keep growing as we get closer to those dates and more women start coming in."

The boom is delayed because everyone didn't set out on the week of Sept. 11 to get pregnant.

The swell of pregnancies after a disaster doesn't grow out of some drive to repopulate the species or to affirm love or other noble emotions, said Lawrence Devoe, the chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Medical College of Georgia.

It's about being stuck in the house together with nothing better to do.

"Generally, after a major disaster, there does appear to be a little blip (in pregnancies)," he said. "But I don't think there's a single psychological drive behind it. People spend more time at home afterward, they travel less than they did, they spend more time with their families - and you have some natural consequences when couples spend more time together. Things happen. It's not like 'The world's gonna end, let's have a baby."'

Similar increases appear seasonally farther north, where harsher winters keep people indoors, Dr. Devoe added.

"I'm from Chicago, and we had three disastrous winters in a row that you literally could see the effect of," he said.

His department has seen a 5 percent increase in pregnancies recently, he said.

Beverly and Brian Thompson hadn't planned a pregnancy in the wake of Sept. 11 - in fact, Mrs. Thompson had been undergoing treatment for ovarian cysts and didn't think she was able to conceive yet. But the North Augusta couple found out a week before Halloween that she was pregnant.

"I didn't think about it until we started hearing about the phenomenon on the morning shows and the talk shows," Mrs. Thompson said. "Then I realized that we were right in the middle of it."

Their son Tillman was born June 13, the tip of the coming iceberg.

Similarly, Emily Sheppard's pregnancy was a surprise for her and her husband, Trey - particularly since Mrs. Sheppard's sister and sister-in-law already were pregnant.

"We've made my parents into grandparents three times in a year," the Sandersville woman said.

The baby is due July 27.

"We had planned to have children, but we've only been married a year," Mrs. Sheppard said. "So this was really a surprise."

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.