Magazine article The New Yorker

Baby on Board

Magazine article The New Yorker

Baby on Board

Article excerpt

Party planners: if you are ever putting together an event for several hundred pregnant women, as TheBump.com did the other day, there are a few things you need to take care of. First, make sure that the escalators required to transport the ladies to the event space--in this case, the basement-level screening room of the Loews Lincoln Square, on the Upper West Side--are functioning: walking down a long flight of stairs when you're thirty pounds over your normal weight can be tricky. Second, ask the theatre staff to turn up the air-conditioning: all that extra blood those ladies are producing for their fetuses is making them feel hot, even when it's not an unseasonably warm day, which it is. Third, if you're going to go to the trouble of serving pregnant-lady-friendly food--peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches, pickles--make sure that the ladies don't have to wait in line for twenty minutes to get some. Standing around while pregnant: not good. Standing around while pregnant and hungry: really not good.

The event in question was a screening of "Babies," a documentary that charts the coo-worthy first year in the lives of four infants from around the globe. They are Mari, a girl in Tokyo (she is seen being rocked, ineffectually, by a motorized rocker, and wailing over her own inability to put a round peg in a round hole); Hattie, from San Francisco (baby yoga, baby biking, baby hot-tubbing); Bayar, a lad from rural Mongolia who, once he is released from his straitjacket swaddling clothes, seems to spend most of his early life snuggling goats; and Ponijao, a girl from rural Namibia, who, like her mother and her many siblings, passes much time sitting on the ground under a tree, in what looks like utter contentment. The director, Thomas Balmes, a Frenchman and father of three, was on hand to impart parental wisdom. "You can take your babies all over the world--take a plane and go to Africa, go everywhere," he told the assembled mothers-to-be, who laughed nervously at the suggestion.

The event was packed--only a hundred and fifty guests got to see the movie, while two hundred and fifty had to be content with goody bags, and more than a hundred were turned away. There was, as a result, a slightly desperate, competitive atmosphere to the evening, which should serve attendees as good preparation for kindergarten applications. Clare Fisher, a pregnancy photographer, was shooting belly-in-profile portraits. LeslieAnn Drye, an assistant principal at a middle school in the Bronx, whose baby is due in September, was one of those with the energy to stand in line. …

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