Birth Race 2000
by D. Trull
Even as early on as the first months of 1999, most of us are already feeling like the year 2000 has sorely worn out its welcome. I'm sick and tired of irrational doom-mongers saying the world's literally coming to an end. I'm sick and tired of clueless oafs wrongly calling 2000 the start of the new millennium, and I'm equally sick and tired of all the tedious and unending explanations of why it isn't. I want to take a pair of pliers and a blowtorch to the abbreviation-happy computer geek who coined that most godawful, pointless and gratuitous buzzword of the not-quite-millennium, "Y2K." The whole thing gives me a bad case of Y2P (Yearning 2 Puke).
Come on, folks, it's just an arbitrary number changing on a calendar that only part of the world uses. Let's get over it. Yes, a lot of computers are going to go haywire and cause some major problems, but if you're concerned with whether the human race will survive beyond the year 2000, consider this: sexual intercourse is certified 100 percent Y2K compliant.
In fact, some individuals who are extra optimistic about continuing the species plan to seize upon a rare window of opportunity in the first quarter of 1999. Prospective parents can attempt to deliberately schedule their reproductive activities in hopes of conceiving a child who will be born on January 1, 2000. But that task may prove nearly as formidable a challenge as wrangling with that pesky computer bug.
Manipulating the miraculous moment of conception is a notoriously imprecise enterprise, to say the least -- no less when the object is to achieve fertilization than to avoid it. We all know it takes nine months to make a baby, so you might figure April Fool's 1999 would be the day for gettin' jiggy with it if you want Junior to make his debut on New Year's 2000. But since the period of gestation generally does not precisely amount to 270 days, fertility specialists have offered more accurate estimates of when couples should try for a 1/1/2000 baby. The problem is, even the experts can't agree what day that would be. One estimate pegs the optimum date at March 17, while another says April 9. Somewhere in there should be about right. Or maybe not. This thing called life is all a big crap shoot, anyway.
"Most of fertility is random chance so you have to be lucky enough to be ovulating on that day, have intercourse, be lucky enough that that particular egg wanted to fertilize and implant," said Richard Fisher, co-author of the book Making Babies, who recommends the April 9 target date. "And then you have to have a pregnancy that lasted exactly 38 weeks... and then come into labor."
And finally, provided that a zillion unknown variables somehow cooperate with your little scheme, congratulations! You're the proud parents of a bouncing baby born on the first day of the last year before the actual arrival of the new millennium (albeit the first year ever to have the numeral "2" followed by three digits)! Hurray!
If that sounds like an appealing prospect for your progeny, then go for it -- but don't be too disappointed if the kid decides to have a boring birthday like December 23 or January 20. There's good news for would-be fathers aiming to sire a 1/1/2000 baby. As with most other sweepstakes and lotteries that are long on odds, the closest thing to a valid strategy for winning is simple: enter early and often.
"There are a whole lot of old wives' tales about saving up and not having intercourse three or four days before ovulation," Fisher further noted. "The best sperm is fresh sperm... It's like ice cream and chocolate. The nearer it is to being manufactured the better it is."
Umm... now there's a simile that'll stick with you a while. Try and keep that image out of your mind next time you're at Ben & Jerry's.
That ugliness aside, you might think that the quest for having one of the first babies of the almost-millennium is a harmless enough pursuit that's all in good fun. But some have deemed Birth Race 2000 to be distasteful and immoral. Among the offended parties is an organization that's ordinarily tickled pink when people intentionally set out to have babies: the Roman Catholic Church.
British television network ITV, which has chosen March 17 as the best date for couples to plant their crops, is planning to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime occasion with an evening of "sex-orientated programming to get the nation in the mood." The special lineup of prime-time erotica on what is being called "Bonk Night" will include a nature documentary depicting sexual relations in the wild kingdom. ITV is also interviewing ten selected couples hoping to have a baby on 1/1/2000, and is planning to provide coverage of pregnancies that look like they might hit the mark. All this will culminate with live coverage of Britain's maternity wards on New Year's Eve.
I think it's hilarious, and it's definitely the best commemoration of year 2000 insanity that anyone's yet come up with. But some folks with no sense of humor consider the network's obstetrical odyssey an exploitative trivialization of childbirth.
"It's making a mockery of what a child is about. Having a child to get on TV must be the height of absurdity," said a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church. Evangelical Alliance representative Gavin Drake agreed with those sentiments, noting, "A baby is for life, not just the millennium [sic]. What matters is whether a couple feel able to offer a lifetime of love and care, not which couple can be the first to deliver on one date." Groups that monitor indecency in the media have also expressed their outrage, accusing ITV of "treating people like guinea pigs."
In their defense, ITV and its programming providers have asserted they have only approaches couples who were already planning to have children and that they are not being paid. No one is being coerced into joining the 2000 baby boom just so they can be on television, although ITV's producers readily admit that "it would be fantastic if our couples were still in that race" on the big night of the blessed Y2K nativity.
Those churches and morality groups need to chill the hell out, because if they're gonna get that worked up over this innocuous minor case of pre-millennial madness, the poor bastards are never going to make it through what's yet to come. Then again, it could be that their protests have ulterior motives. Maybe they're secretly fearful that the Antichrist is going to be born on January 1, 2000, spawned of the unholy orgies of Bonk Night.
But since Satan's supposed to be pretty smart, I'm willing to bet he wouldn't dream of showing up until the dawn of the new millennium... when most everybody will think he's running a year late.
Sources: Reuters; The Times (London).
© Copyright 1999 ParaScope, Inc.