The party was originally thrown in honor of Patricia Broderick’s 77th birthday. But when friends and family gathered at her Greenwich Village apartment April 5, they learned they had even more to celebrate. Broderick’s son Matthew, 40, and daughter-in-law Sarah Jessica Parker, 37, had arrived with happy news of their own: She’s pregnant. “When everybody found out, they were cheering,” says Matthew’s sister Janet Broderick Kraft, 46, an Episcopal minister who officiated at the couple’s 1997 Manhattan wedding. “Sarah and Matthew have been trying for a while. They are just incredibly thrilled.”
And a bit nervous. As Parker cuddled guests’ babies; the mom-to-be peppered the parents in the crowd with requests for information. “She is trying to decide where she wants to deliver,” Kraft says. “She was asking what she should be eating.” For now, she might try crackers. Due in the fall, Parker has been struggling with morning sickness. “She was walking around but still looked peaked,” Kraft says. “Matthew stood next to her the whole night. He was watching over her and saying he hoped she felt better.”
Nausea aside, Parker couldn’t be happier, says writer Pippin Parker, 41, the oldest of Sarah’s seven siblings. “This is something she’s really always wanted. If she is in a room of adults and children, she’ll often gravitate toward the children.”
The announcement also has had a ripple effect, quieting rumors of marital trouble between the two actors even as it has ignited turmoil on the set of Sex and the City, the hit HBO comedy in which Parker stars as sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. On April 5, after beginning to film two of the 13 episodes scheduled for the show’s fifth season, HBO announced that Sex will take a month-long break. Though no reasons were given, Parker reportedly has phoned in at least once with morning sickness. “She’s worked sick many times before, and being in the situation where that’s maybe not the greatest idea is unfamiliar to her,” says Pippin. Given her long hours, he says, “one reason they took the hiatus was just to make sure that she can commit herself 100 percent to filming.”
Assuming Parker’s nausea is short-lived, the show still faces difficult decisions. With Sex’s season premiere now pushed back to July, Parker’s pregnancy will be well-advanced—in a word, showing—by the final shoot. Either stylish size-0 Carrie will have to be unfashionably sheathed—unthinkable!—to cloak the pregnancy or her thickening waistline will have to be written into the plot. But who will be the father: dumped fiancé Aidan or ex-boyfriend Mr. Big? And will lethally spiked Manolo Blahniks still be an option? “It’s too premature to answer at this time,” says HBO spokeswoman Angela Tarantino.
While Carrie’s presumed pregnancy has fans buzzing, Sarah Jessica Parker‘s very real condition—these days the lady sips ice water, not Cosmopolitans—seems to have stilled rumors of domestic distress. The whispers first began last June when tabloids reported that another woman was coming between Broderick and Parker. In January so much was made of Parker’s failure to thank Broderick while accepting a Golden Globe Award (her third in three years) that the couple felt compelled to address the gossip in a March sit-down with Barbara Walters. Interview-shy Broderick asserted, “I am happily married,” while Parker maintained, “My marriage speaks for itself. Come see me in 25, 30 years when I’m still married to the same man.”
Friends and family are baffled by any talk of a rift. “Ridiculous,” says actor Gary Beach, both a friend of Parker’s since she was 10 and a colleague of Broderick’s in the Broadway sensation The Producers. (After a yearlong run, Broderick bowed out last month and in May will be heading to Canada to begin shooting an ABC version of The Music Man.) Parker’s brother Pippin says he is “totally surprised and mystified” by the chatter, which he calls “completely fabricated and crazy.” Another friend, who calls the pair “a perfect couple,” says that between Parker’s frenetic pace and Broderick’s low-key approach, “they balance each other out beautifully.”
And pals predict they will be equally splendid parents. “Sarah Jessica’s mother was fantastic; it’s the kind of mother she’s going to be,” says actor Ron Rifkin, who has been friends with Parker since 1991. As for Broderick, Beach says he will be “the kind of dad I would like to have.” Dog trainer Bash Dibra, who helps the couple with their Border collie, Sally, says that Broderick already had his mind on fatherhood last August when he asked, “When we do have kids, will Sally be okay with the baby?”
The confident predictions reflect the sturdy family bonds of both actors. Parker had a happy if chaotic childhood after her parents, Stephen and Barbara, separated when she was 1. Two years later, Barbara married truck driver Paul Forste, and Sarah and her three older siblings (Pippin, Timothy, now 40, and Rachel, 39) were uprooted from southeastern Ohio to Cincinnati. As the brood ballooned to eight, money was often tight, but both parents persistently exposed their kids to the city’s free cultural programs. By the time Sarah was 11, she and three of her siblings had launched acting careers—but Barbara made sure family was a priority. “She raised those kids to be great people,” says Beach.
Growing up in Manhattan, Broderick was similarly tight with his parents, actor James and painter Patricia, and his two sisters, Janet and Martha, now 51. Not long before James died of cancer in 1982, Matthew turned down the plum role of Alex Keaton in NBC’s Family Ties to be near his dad. “My father was very attentive to me,” he said in 1999, “and I’d like to do the same with my little kids.”
Already, attention in the Parker-Broderick household is shifting toward kids. The pair plan to haul old furniture and wedding items out of storage for their eventual move with Sally to a larger Greenwich Village brown-stone. But “they are not running out to get an interior decorator,” says Kraft. “They are very modest people.” And still getting used to the idea of parenthood. “I don’t think they’ve done anything since the news,” says Pippin. “They’re not painting any rooms pink or blue yet.”
KC Baker, Sharon Cotliar, Rachel Felder, Elizabeth McNeil, Bob Meadows and Rebecca Paley in New York City