Sean and Christina McPartland rode out Hurricane Sandy in their Little Egg Harbor Township home with their 2-year-old toddler, Xzavier.
The McPartlands did not experience serious damage to their home, but they were stuck in the house for two days with no power. Sean McPartland missed a couple of days of work. Christina McPartland is a stay-at-home mom.
They played hide-and-seek with their son, cleaned up the debris that fell in their yard and helped neighbors down the street who were worse off than they were.
About four weeks after their unexpected time off, Christina McPartland, 29, woke up one morning and wasn't feeling very good. She took a home-pregnancy test. She was pregnant for the second time.
"It's nice when you don't have the television to distract you or the phone to distract you. You get to just be together as a family, and then my son went to sleep," said Christina McPartland, whose second son, Oliver, was born July 21 at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus.
Some area doctors said they saw an increase in births this past July over July last year, suggesting the McPartlands were part of a Hurricane Sandy baby boom.
Numbers from southern New Jersey hospitals, however, say otherwise: the number of births in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties were all lower this past July compared with July of last year, according to the preliminary data from the state Department of Health's Office of Vital Statistics & Registry.
Babies born at the Roger B. Hansen Center for Childbirth at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus, in Pomona remained about the same number as last year: This July, 222 babies were born, compared with 223 last July, spokeswoman Jennifer Tornetta said. Shore Medical Center in Somers Point had a decrease from 112 in July last year to 101 this year.
Southern Ocean Medical Center, in Stafford Township, and Cape Regional Medical Center, in Middle Township, reported little change in their birth totals.
Still, Tornetta said, many AtlantiCare patients have said their children were conceived during Sandy.
Some New Jersey residents will look back on Hurricane Sandy and remember the devastation and tragedy the storm brought to their homes, property and businesses. Others will think about the weather event differently: They were able to ride out the wind, the rain and the flooding without much damage, and the time they spent together at home and away from work gave them an opportunity to start or expand their family.
Dr. Sal Carfagno, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, said that in his private practice in Absecon, he saw a bump from about 30 births in July 2012 to 40 births this past July.
"In times of stress and strain of a catastrophe, people tend to come together," said Carfagno, who is affiliated with AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.
People seek out connection in times of stress, according to family theory, said Sara Martino, an associate professor of psychology at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
"When there are things going on in society, families have a tendency to band together. You get closer, you think, 'Let's expand our family. Let's live closer together. Let's hunker down and be close'... During that time of stress, it actually brings families together, so it's pretty common after things like 9/11 or a natural disaster that babies end up being born out of that crisis," said Martino, who is also a couples and family therapist.
John Edward Borkowski Jr., 28, and Lindsey Borkowski, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, were fortunate that the derecho from late June 2012 brought down most of the trees that would have come down when Hurricane Sandy hit.
Lindsey Borkowski missed a couple of days of work as a receptionist after Sandy. John Borkowski Jr. missed three days of work and did not have to do his two-hour, round-trip commute to his public relations and sales job at the Internet marketing company Webimax in Mount Laurel, Burlington County. They moved their mattress downstairs from their bedroom on the second floor to sleep in their den/TV room in a more stable area of their house on the first floor.
They work crazy, intense schedules and can be tired at the end of the day, Lindsey Borkowski said.
"It was nice to have a long weekend together," said John Borkowski Jr., who added they had their fireplace burning the entire time. "It was a minivacation. There was nowhere to go and nowhere to be. It created a lot of opportunity."
Lindsey Borkowski gave birth to John Edward Borkowski III on Aug. 1 at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus.
Dr. Todd Liu, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Southern Ocean Medical Center, said he had heard patients say they were dislodged from their home, or their home was still under repair, and they were having a baby.
The McPartlands said they discussed expanding their family before Hurricane Sandy. They were together a long time, eight years, before they were married, Christina McPartland said. She and her husband enjoyed just being a couple for a few years, but they wanted to have their children close in age, McPartland said.
"We didn't have an exact date when we were going to start. Sandy gave us a good excuse," Christina McPartland said.
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