The Goddess Speaks

By Catherine E. Toth

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Y2K baby boom
is troubling

THOUGHT GenXers had problems? The Year 2000 will introduce a whole new breed of offspring with issues: the Y2Kids.

Couples worldwide are vying for the exclusive and apparently lucrative title of parents of the Millennium Baby, the first child born in the year 2000.

Pregnancy used to be simple. You gave birth; you lived with the result for the rest of your life. But with the race on for the Millennium Baby, it's not enough. You have to be pregnant at the right time and deliver that child at midnight, whether that means holding the anxious baby in or pushing the stubborn one out. As if just giving birth isn't pressure enough.

Surveys in Great Britain showed that as many as 1 in 10 British couples were trying for a turn-of-the-century baby in April, the last month to conceive with a chance of having a New Year's baby. Hotels, radio stations and stores from Los Angeles to New York jumped on the bandwagon, offering free trips and wads of cash to the lucky couple. The BabyCenter Store in San Francisco sold more than 1,000 Millennium Baby Conception Kits, which included a guide to fertility, an ovulation predictor, pregnancy tests and scented candles.

Do these couples want a child or a rainmaker?

Twenty-nine percent of people surveyed on the BabyCenter's Web site said the race for a Millennium Baby "trivializes the miracle of childbirth." Half of those who responded supported the ambitious couples, while 19 percent were more concerned with the Y2K bug in hospitals than the race itself.

Why aren't more people concerned about the frightening rationale -- or lack thereof -- of having the Millennium Baby?

Picture this: Overflowing hospital rooms nationwide. The countdown to midnight begins. Women screaming for labor-inducing drugs or epidurals to prolong it or even worse, being wheeled in for their "scheduled" Caesarean sections.

That's enough chaos to imagine, even without adding the potential pandemonium if the Y2K bug does, as people dread, exist. And for what? To be the parents of the first child born in the century? What are the odds? You have a better chance of profiting from a trip to Vegas than on a baby's delivery date.

WHAT about the thousands of babies born a little too soon or a little too late? It's not their fault. They don't care about corporate sponsorships or TV events. But they've let their parents down. No modeling contract. No trip to Tahiti.

If couples want to ring in the new century with a baby, that's fine. The millennium is the start of something new; it marks change and progress. And if that's not good enough, there's always the year 2001, which purists say is truly the start of the next century. That gives couples another year to try having a baby ... unless having a baby isn't the priority, the goal is having the Millennium Baby.

So while women around the world, now in their fourth month of pregnancy with their lucky Lotto ticket tucked away in their bellies, crave ice cream and pickles, I hope they're thinking about what they're doing. They're bringing a child, not a celebrity, into the world.

I hope they remember there will only be one Millennium Baby, but thousands who came close. And we don't need a generation with a complex, a bunch of Y2Kids who may be treated like the almost-but-not-good-enoughs.

Catherine E. Toth is a former Star-Bulletin editorial assistant
now pursuing her master's degree in journalism
at Northwestern University.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
send it to: The Goddess Speaks, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O.
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