Anne-marie O'neill
September 21, 1998 12:00 PM

Call them the El Niño kids. For months-last fall and winter, fierce rains pulverized the Pacific, sending even the most incandescent stars scurrying for cover. And what did they do when they found it? Maybe you should judge for yourself. Given this summer’s bumper crop of celebrity babies, we know we have our suspicions.

Consider this: In July alone, Jada Pinkett Smith, 27, and hubby Will, 29, welcomed son Jaden Christopher Syre to the world; The Avengers star Uma Thurman, 28, and her new husband, Ethan Hawke, 27, greeted daughter Maya Ray; and Grammy-winning singer Shawn Colvin, 42, and photographer husband Mario Erwin, 42, sang a first lullaby to Caledonia Marie.

Adoring parents, no doubt. But none of the new moms mesmerized the public the way Jodie Foster did when she gave birth to 7-lb. 8-oz., 20½-inch Charles Foster at 5:53 a.m. on July 20, two months earlier than expected. (Foster, 35, had suggested when announcing her pregnancy in March that delivery might be in September.) “It’s not a premature baby,” says Foster’s close friend, producer Randy Stone. “She pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

As for the illustrious Charles, Stone reports that the blue-eyed babe sleeps well and looks just like Mom. And the infant has exhibited a certain robust ‘tude since even before he made his debut. “I put my hand on her stomach and the baby was kickboxing,” says Stone. “This baby is just like her. It’s going to be hiking in the mountains.” In the meantime, both deliveree and deliverer (Foster told Mirabella she put on only 17 pounds and “enjoyed every minute” of pregnancy) are not wandering far afield. “Jodie is doing most of her work from home,” says Stuart Kleinman, Foster’s partner in the production company Egg Pictures. Foster, whose next project will be to direct Flora Plum, a period piece about a young woman who takes a lethal toll on a circus, made a brief appearance last month at the debut of Egg’s Showtime film The Baby Dance, staying long enough to see the movie and hobnob for a few minutes before dashing home. “The baby is on a schedule where he has to be fed every three hours,” Kleinman explains. “Jodie is totally devoted to him.”

So much so that despite having a nanny, she is doing most of the baby chores herself. “She doesn’t have a staff; she’s not that kind of person,” says friend Renee Missel, a producer. Missel adds that Jodie is being protective, even asking her to leave her 10-year-old at home when visiting to prevent the spread of germs. Still, Mom and Charles, who Missel says boasts a luscious shock of reddish-blond hair, share a certain sense of tranquillity when together. “He’s not fussy and never cranky,” she says, “and Jodie has an inner calm.”

So, discounting effects of meteorological anomalies, what accounts for this Hollywood baby boom? Best guess: biology. Apparently even the frantic pursuit of fame and fortune can’t dull the procreative urge. “Maternal instinct takes its effect, no matter what,” says Dr. Judith Reichman, a Beverly Hills ob-gyn and author of two books on women’s health issues. And she expects most of these new moms to warm to their roles. “The fact that you’re famous or have money to pay for a nanny does not diminish the awesome responsibility,” says Reichman. “They may not realize how hard this is until they’re faced with it, but they’re very committed.”

Foster echoed that thought when she told PEOPLE in March, “I know everybody’s been through pregnancy, but it’s still a big deal.” Some feel it’s an even greater challenge when there’s no costar in the picture. Going it alone as single mothers are comedian Sandra Bernhard, 43, who produced Cicely Yasin, and Princess Stephanie of Monaco, 33, who remains coy about the identity of her partner in the parenthood of Camille Marie Kelly. As for Foster, who was raised by a single mother herself (Brandy, 69, a former publicist and arts dealer), she’s not telling how she got pregnant. Estranged from her brother Buddy, 41, who runs a construction company in Minnesota, and her father, Lucius, 76, a real estate developer, she may also have limited family support. But then she is used to flying solo. “I do everything alone,” she told Vanity Fair.

Jane Mattes, author of Single Mothers by Choice, says Foster’s decision could help dispel the social stigma attached to single motherhood. “Jodie is a smart, talented person, and I think she is a great role model for our kind of choice,” says Mattes, adding that “you can get married anytime, but you can’t always have children.” She also notes that the 1990 census reported a 300 percent increase of single mothers aged 30 to 40. Experts expect that figure to climb by the year 2000.

Single or paired, there’s no doubt that celebrity mothers can enjoy certain perks not available to the masses, starting with the delivery room itself. For as much as $1,150 a night, on top of regular hospital fees, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles offers two-and three-bedroom deluxe maternity suites with individually catered dining, a laptop computer and a 24-hour doula (a sort of instructional nanny for nursing mothers). Talk show host Leeza Gibbons, 41, fondly referred to her room as “the diva suite.” After giving birth to Nathan Daniel (her third child, with husband and actor Stephen Meadows, 47) last October, “I was having a hormonal letdown,” she recalls. “So when the doula asked me what would make me feel better, I said, ‘Would you shave my legs?’ And she did.”

The spoils of celebrity motherhood aren’t exclusive to L.A. Jerry Hall, 42, enjoyed an aromatherapy massage during the delivery of her fourth addition, Gabriel Luke Beauregard, in the candlelit birthing unit of London’s St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital last December. While Dad, Mick Jagger, 55, missed the blissful event—he was on tour with the Rolling Stones in Atlanta—he made up for it a few days later, arriving at the hospital with a pair of diamond earrings for his beloved.

For the most part, this year’s celebrity mothers claim to have been blessed with easy deliveries and near-perfect postpartum maternities. Third-time momhood is said to have been a breeze for Christie Brinkley, 44, whose 10-week-old daughter Sailor is “a mellow, sweet child,” according to pal Jill Rappaport, the NBC entertainment correspondent who introduced Brinkley to her fourth husband, architect Peter Cook, 39. After three miscarriages in recent years, Brinkley, adds Rappaport, “is blissfully happy right now.”

Ditto for Jennifer Flavin and Sylvester Stallone. Nervous after their first daughter Sophia’s troubled start (the 2-year-old had successful surgery for a hole in her heart when she was just a few months old), Stallone, 52, and his wife, 30, were relieved at Sistine Rose’s “perfect” premiere, says grandma Shirley Flavin. And Mom, she adds, “is in great shape.” As is fellow modeling mama Elle Macpherson. In February the 34-year-old Australian gave birth to Arpad Flynn (named for his father, Macpherson’s beau, Arpad Busson, 35, a Swiss financier) and declares that she has already returned “to pre-pregnancy form without any special attention to diet or exercise.”

Even on the job front stars enjoy some special compensations. “If an actress has committed to a project, she can usually complete the role before she begins to show,” says Screen Actors Guild legal director Vicki Shapiro. Otherwise she can take a cue from actress Kelli Williams, 28, who was pregnant throughout the entire second season of ABC’s The Practice, though her character, lawyer Lindsay Dole, was not. “By the end of the year, I was holding paintings and standing behind computers,” says Williams. Son Kiran Ram arrived just eight days after the season wrapped. Boasts his writer dad, Ajay Sahgal, 33: “We had this baby planned to the day.”

Though most big stars have at least a part-time nanny (“Hillary Rodham Clinton tells us that it takes a village to raise a child,” says Northwestern University sociologist Bernard Beck, “but the modern approach is that it takes a staff”), family time during work hours can be yet another perk of celebrity parenting. Hands-on mom Rosie O’Donnell works her chat show schedule around her adopted kids Parker Jarren, 3, and Chelsea Belle, 1. “There are days when Rosie can do two shows, and it’s exhausting, but she will always come home when it’s bath time,” says her friend Linda Richman, the kids’ honorary grandma (and, coincidentally, comedian Mike Myers’s mother-in-law). Not that O’Donnell, 36, takes her setup for granted: “It’s a luxury most women don’t have.”

Yet all the perks that money can buy can’t shield the stars from some of the grittier aspects of new motherhood. WB’s For Your Love actress Holly Robinson Peete, 34, who delivered twins Rodney Jackson and Ryan Elizabeth last October, put on 60 pounds and couldn’t prevent stretch marks, despite lathering cream all over her stomach. And the morning sickness lasted all day. “Whoever named it morning sickness must have been a man,” she says, adding that she asked husband and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rodney Peete, 32, to bring her “pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Janine Turner, 35, can sympathize. “I was sick everywhere, and I mean everywhere,” says the Northern Exposure actress, who had to abandon a movie role in her first trimester with daughter Juliette, now 10 months old (Turner won’t name the father). But while her 27-hour labor was a chore, the ensuing five-month career hiatus was not. “A career is wonderful, but having a baby and a family is the most important thing one can do,” says Turner.

Then there are complications that can’t be foreseen. The pregnant former Melrose Place vixen Lisa Rinna felt so sexy that she gladly revealed her six-month bulge in a shoot for September’s Playboy. Then right when she really should have commanded attention, the mom-to-be was upstaged by her man. On June 9, Rinna was beset with labor pains in an elevator of Cedars-Sinai when a woman recognized her husband, L.A. Law’s Harry Hamlin, 46. “I thought I was going to drop the baby in the elevator,” says Rinna, 35, “and this woman saw Harry and shrieked, ‘I loved you in Clash of the Titans.’ ”

And consider Lisa Kudrow’s postpartum blues. Kudrow, 35, told the British magazine NOW that initially she feared having sex with her advertising-exec husband Michel Stern, 40, after the May birth of their first child, Julian Murray, lest she become pregnant again. “People talk about the pain of childbirth, but no one tells you how you’re going to feel after,” the Friends star said. “Those first two weeks were really traumatic.”

And Cyndi Lauper, 45, wasn’t much enchanted with breast-feeding at first. “You look at cows totally different,” says the Brooklyn-born singer, who gave birth to her first-born, Declyn Wallace (by husband and actor David Thornton, 44), last November. Still, “if you can do it for a year, it gives them a solid foundation,” she says. “I never thought I’d make three months, but here we are.”

Which just goes to show, whether she’s handling development deals or diapers, a mother is still a mother, with all the attendant joys, frustrations and fears. “Sometimes,” says Lauper of Declyn, “I’m, like, ‘Oh God, help me do the right thing. Don’t make me make him messed up.’ And when you see that he’s happy—and he’s very happy—then it makes it all worthwhile.”

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