Sandy Babies: A Niche Generation - Birthday Week

By Timothy Dillon

Superstorm Sandy brought about a lot of change. Besides the obvious and devastating destruction that the tri-state area experienced, the aftermath led to politicians breaking party lines in the name of relief, massive adjustments made to various New York waterfronts, and now the latest byproduct of the storm: babies.

Photo courtesy of Eli Christman

Sandy Babies, as they are now affectionately called, are infant New Yorkers who were conceived during or in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. This past May, The New York Times published an article discussing the upcoming baby boom that would befall hospitals, delivery rooms, and midwives — an estimated 10 to 20 percent increase over the average birth rate for this time of year. It’s evident that community building is not the only way in which Sandy brought people together.

Looking beyond the giggle-inducing circumstances of these new New Yorkers, it’s important to note that the Jersey Boys and Girls to be will make up a niche generation in this part of the country.

A Sandy pregnancy’s delivery date is just as uncertain as a normal one, but the general time frame for the surge in births should be throughout July and into August. Jenny Adamo, a Staten Island native and expectant mother, is patiently continuing to work until she welcomes her daughter to life.

“I was just kind of dealing with the idea of being pregnant,” recalls Adamo. She had not really caught on to the hype behind having a Sandy Baby. Even when she started feeling the attention, she has maintained a pretty level head. Her philosophy is simple: babies are born everyday, and plenty will have nothing to do with Sandy.

It’s good to know that something nice came out of a climate wake up call. While Adamo’s family was fortunate after the storm, her boyfriend’s family did not fare quite as well through Sandy. For both sides of the family, their baby girl is a reminder of coming together in the name of common blood. Like families, communities throughout the tri-state area also came together, and Adamo is more than thrilled that her daughter will be able to share her childhood with a new boom generation.

“It’s going to suck having to do all those parties around the same time,” laughs Adamo, “[But] I think it’s awesome that my daughter is going to be able to grow up with my close friend’s kids. I had a lot of friends growing up, especially in my neighborhood. In most every [home] on my block, there was someone my age.”

There is still a lot of speculation regarding this spike, but the baby boom really seems to be an instance of human nature working on a very base level. Realistically there is no one definitive answer, but some things to consider such as many were without electricity or the ability to get around.

This means the availability of contraception was also limited and, obviously, denying women access to birth control will lead to an increase in pregnancies. The baby boom in Romania in the late ’60s to early ’70s direct resulted from the communist party banning contraceptives via “Decree 770”.

Of course, there is also something to be said about anxiety and tragedy leading to a desire for intimacy. There are plenty of romance novels and sitcom relationships that start with ‘well the lights are off and we didn’t know how we would keep warm…’ You get the idea. Not even New York is immune to cliches and stereotypes; in fact, some might say they are born here (pun intended).

The past big baby booms in United States have correlated primarily with both World Wars, as well as the echo boom generation that was a direct result of the prosperity of their baby boomer parents.

Adamo says that when looking around it seems that almost everyone is pregnant; she embarrassingly guesses that at least five or six of her friends are. But she doesn’t just see mothers, she sees new friends for her daughter, her daughter’s prospective boyfriend, a future moving forward.

“They’re not going anywhere. I mean if a big tidal wave comes over Staten Island, that could change,” she laughs. “But right now we can’t imagine being anywhere else.” Hopefully with a little rearranging and some new infrastructure to help New York sustain the shore fronts we still have, Adamo and her new family won’t need to worry about moving anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Merille.

So what can we expect from this new generation of New Yorkers? Baby boomers are retiring, the echo boom, or generation X, are grasping at straws to rewrite the history of trashing the planet, and generation Y is struggling through a recovering economy and  in the form of self-important hipsters. What are these diapered storm refugees going to contribute to the world?

Perhaps community. Perhaps this generation, born to a changing New York, in both climate and topography, will be raised with the same sense of communal awareness and camaraderie required during the tragedy in which they were conceived.

Perhaps not. Only time will tell how Sandy’s aftershock will continue to rock this city.