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Where do World Series babies come from? 'Rain delay was a perfect opportunity'

October 18,2017 04:07

Liam is a member of an elite club of babies conceived during the Cubs' long-awaited World Series run and ultimate victory in 2016. Studies show that major sports victories can yield birth booms. And naturally, that pattern would follow the end of the ...


Erin and Bill Hans know how it feels to wait.
For months, they waited. They tried, and they tried again.
They analyzed and consulted professionals. Erin Hans, 32, couldn’t help but wonder, “Why can everybody else do it, and I can’t?”
For some couples, getting pregnant can be as elusive as, say, winning a World Series after a century of futility.
But sometimes miracles happen.
“The Series made me not really even think about it,” Erin Hans said. “The stress and the worry of, ‘OK, we have to test my ovulation, OK, we do it on the hour’ — I wasn’t even thinking that. That whole month, I was just focused on the Cubs.”
On Aug. 10, the Hanses, of Niles, welcomed their first son, Liam Joseph, at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
The couple had been unable to get pregnant for over a year, Bill Hans, 33, said. But with the combined distractions of playoff excitement — Erin Hans grew up rooting for the Cubs, and even worked as a Wrigley Field seat vendor in 2003 — and her birthday on Oct. 30, they were finally able to conceive.
“I just kind of want to thank the Cubs,” Erin Hans said. “For helping us have him.”

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

Liam is a member of an elite club of babies conceived during the Cubs’ long-awaited World Series run and ultimate victory in 2016. Studies show that major sports victories can yield birth booms. And naturally, that pattern would follow the end of the longest drought in North American sports, 108 years in the making.
A spokeswoman for Northwestern Medicine said July and August are typically busy months at Prentice Women’s Hospital, and this year was no exception. Advocate Illinois hospitals, which are spread throughout the state, saw more babies born in August than in the previous 12 months, according to a spokesman for the network.
Here are just a few of those stories from parents around the region who had World Series babies.
That infamous rain delay?
The 2016 World Series was a tough-fought battle between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. The Series went all seven games in the best-of-seven contest. The final game lasted 4.5 hours and went into extra innings with the game tied 6-6 — and on top of all that drama featured an excruciating 17-minute rain delay between the end of regulation and the final 10th inning.
But that rain delay wasn’t excruciating for every Cubs fan anxiously waiting to see his or her team achieve the impossible. Once that tense break began, Sarah and Matt Jenny decided they needed a diversion.
“We were trying for a second baby,” Sarah Jenny, 29, said. “The rain delay was a perfect opportunity, so we took full advantage.”
The Jennys, originally from the far western suburbs of Chicago, now live in Woodbury, Minn., with their son Easton, 2, and daughter Emma Renee, born July 23. Matt Jenny, 28, “knows everything” about the Cubs, Sarah Jenny said, and when the couple began dating about eight years ago, he indoctrinated her into Cubs fandom.
“The whole week of the World Series was my ovulation time,” Sarah Jenny said. “It was a no-brainer.”
Out of your control
Lincoln Park resident Kelly Hansen, 30, said that as the end of her pregnancy drew nearer and she began going to weekly appointments in June, she and her husband, Mike, 32, noticed an influx of Prentice patients.
“We never had a problem getting a parking spot in the garage, and all of the sudden the last three or four weeks it was always full,” Hansen said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is just a bunch of World Series or playoff babies.’”
Kelly and Mike’s daughter — Jill Ivy, named for the famous foliage that adorns Wrigley Field’s brick outfield wall — was born July 3, just over eight months after the Cubs claimed the World Series trophy.
Originally from Libertyville, Mike Hansen grew up a die-hard fan. He said he and his father listened to the Cubs play on the radio and went to games whenever possible.
“The Cubs have kinda been woven into our relationship just because of Mike’s love for them,” said Kelly Hansen, an Indianapolis native.
After Kelly’s blood pressure read unusually high at a checkup, her doctors decided to quickly induce labor. Jill, the Hansens’ first child, came out weighing just 4.5 pounds.
“In all things, and in baseball, there are things that are out of your control,” Kelly Hansen said. “Sometimes those things are tough, but they end up really great. That’s what happened in the World Series, and I think what happened with Jill, too.”

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

A trio of newborns
The Cubs victory led to a trifecta of celebrations for the Gray family. Cousins Jenn Gray, 31, Kourtni Gray, 28, and Rachel Pugh, 30, are all mothers of World Series babies.
Jenn Gray, who lives in Elgin with her husband, Garrett, said she and Kourtni, who lives in Rockford, were both trying to get pregnant for a few months when the Series started. Jenn’s daughter, Talitha, and Kourtni and Evan Gray’s son, Henry, were born just 10 days apart on July 18 and 8, respectively.
“We were both trying at the same time,” Jenn Gray said. “We’d always talked about having our last babies together.”
But Pugh’s son, Rhys, came as a surprise addition to the duo of newborns. Pugh, originally from Roscoe, Ill., and her fiance, Stephen Williams, live in Cheyenne, Wyo.
A lifelong Cubs fan, Pugh said she worked as a bartender at an Old Chicago restaurant during the 2016 playoffs.
“There’s no better place to be when you're stuck in random Cheyenne, Wyo., and the Cubs are in the playoffs,” she said.
The Grays, a family of lifelong Cubs fanatics, said while they hoped for back-to-back World Series titles, they wouldn’t try to celebrate with back-to-back pregnancies.
“If it happens, it happens,” Jenn Gray said. “But our plan right now is, we’re done.”
While Jenn and Kourtni Gray each have three children, Rhys, born July 3, was Pugh’s first. She said if the Cubs make the playoffs next year, she and Williams might try again.
The OK from Grandma
Cary, Ill., residents Erin Jenkins and husband Mike, both 34, welcomed daughter Cosima Rose on Aug. 9, exactly 40 weeks after the Cubs won the title. She said they conceived sometime after the Cubs won the Series, while they both rode the “high” of a victory many never thought would come.
Jenkins said she and her mother were both reared in Cubs fandom by her grandmother, who moved to Wrigleyville from West Virginia when she was about 18 after a messy relationship ended. Her grandma found “empowerment” watching the Cubs, Jenkins said.

“When Mike and I started dating, my grandma’s first question was, ‘Is he a Cubs fan?’” Jenkins said. “‘If he’s not, you can’t date him.’”
He was and actually took Jenkins to her first game at Wrigley Field, a double-header.
“That pretty much bonded us for life in the Cubs fandom,” she said.
Jenkins said the couple considered giving Cosima the middle name Ivy or Addison, but settled on Rose.
“Ultimately, we wanted her to have her own identity if for some reason she decided she didn’t want to be a Cubs fan later,” Jenkins said.
Cubs life lessons
Superfans Erin Hettinger and husband Dave, of Barrington, named their son Theo, born July 17, for Cubs President Theo Epstein. They also have a Boston terrier named Maddon, after the team’s manager Joe.
Growing up, Hettinger, 32, said, it was a “sin” in her home to be anything other than a Cubs fan. She and Dave, 33, met in Wrigleyville in 2012.
“We kind of started our relationship there and then throughout dating went to Cubs games,” Hettinger said. “It’s always been a fun part of our relationship.”
As the Cubs have become even more deeply ingrained in their family, Hettinger said having Theo be a World Series baby was “fate.”
“They just speak to having a lot of resilience and grit, looking at the organization in general and how far they’ve come,” she said. “That’s a lesson we’d like to instill in our son: doing hard work and having a sense of humor, things the Cubs organization stands for.”

Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune

Once in a lifetime
The Cubs are also a family affair for Chris, 29, and Amber Cervone, 28, whose daughter, Macy, was born July 22. Chris’ father used to pull him out of school for games, and Amber’s extended family would go to Wrigley together about once a year.
The couple began dating when they were 14, during freshman year of high school. They met riding their bikes around the western suburbs and still live in St. Charles.
“He popped a wheelie on his bike, and that was that,” Amber Cervone joked.
The Cervones love to watch games together, at home or in Wrigleyville. Amber said she often gets Chris tickets to see the Cubs for his birthday.
So when the Cubs won the Fall Classic, the Cervones decided, in the heat of the moment, to try to get pregnant.
“That’s a huge, once in a lifetime thing,” Amber Cervone said. “So we thought we should try to make something once-in-a-lifetime out of it, too.”
Unlike the Cubs’ repeated letdowns, the Cervones were successful on their first try. When she learned she was pregnant, Amber raced to Walgreens to buy a Cubs World Series-branded baseball.
On it, she wrote in marker, “We’re pregnant,” and drew a smiley face. She tossed it to Chris to reveal the news.
mpage@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @marissahpage
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