August is often the busiest month for the nation’s maternity wards, but this year it was certainly the most glamorous. On Aug. 8 actress Catherine Zeta-Jones gave birth to son Dylan, with fiancé Michael Douglas nearby. Three days later, reportedly under more urgent circumstances, pop diva Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie welcomed son Rocco. And on Aug. 15 model-actress Iman and her husband, David Bowie, celebrated the arrival of daughter Alexandria. Here, the stories of those joyful beginnings.
A Rocky Ride for Madonna‘s Rocco
There are limits even for those who like to have it all. With daughter Lourdes, 3, underfoot and another child on the way—an addition that she has said will add to her battalion of “nannies, housekeepers and assistants”—Madonna decided that life was getting a bit too hectic, shuttling between homes in Los Angeles, New York City and London, where she most recently shared a $15,000-a-month, four-story townhouse with Baby No. 2’s father, British director Guy Ritchie. Three weeks ago the Material Mom gave away two of her three Chihuahuas, letting Lourdes keep Evita while farming out Chiquita and Rosita to actor Glenn Shadix. “I e-mailed our mutual friend Rupert Everett in Italy to help convince Madonna that I would give the girls a proper home,” says Shadix, who owns two female terriers. “All four girls get along fabulously.”
It proved a fortuitous bit of advance planning. Late on the evening of Aug. 10, three weeks ahead of her due date and six days shy of her 42nd birthday, Madonna reportedly awoke in her L.A. home to find herself bleeding and seized by abdominal pains. Ritchie, 31, quickly assisted Madonna into a black Mercedes, then sped to L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. According to British press reports, doctors discovered that Madonna‘s placenta (the organ that provides the fetus with nourishment) had detached from the wall of the uterus, cutting off the baby’s oxygen supply and necessitating an emergency cesarean section. Through it all, Ritchie—who calls her Madge in private, jocularly refers to her as “the missus” in public and gave up alcohol in support of Madonna during her pregnancy—remained steadfastly at her side.
At 12:52 a.m. on Aug. 11, tiny Rocco Ritchie made his debut on the world stage, weighing in at 5 lbs. 9 oz. The next day, a hospital insider told Britain’s Sunday Mirror that “Madonna lost a lot of blood. The baby is small and underweight, but it is not a major worry.” Breathless reports followed that Rocco, suffering from respiratory distress syndrome and lung, kidney and liver complications, was still in the neonatal intensive care unit four days after his birth. But Dr. Peter Waldstein, the pediatrician who is caring for Rocco, retorts, “That’s all nonsense. Nonsense. Everything is fine.” Madonna‘s spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg adds that both mother and baby are now home. Rosenberg stresses there was “never a life-threatening moment for Madonna or the baby,” but she declines to speak further about the delivery or the child’s health, saying, “Madonna wants to keep it private.”
The morning before the delivery, during a live radio interview with disc jockey Rick Dees of L.A.-based KIIS FM, the voluble Madonna, whose new album Music is due in stores Sept. 19, recalled Lourdes’s birth. “I completely forgot how scared I was,” she said, describing the pain of childbirth as “root canal times a million.” A few days later Madonna slipped away from the hospital and into an uncharacteristic silence. From Madonna‘s family there has been a peep only from her father, Silvio “Tony” Ciccone, who paused in his preparations for the Aug. 31 opening of his Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in Sutton’s Bay, Mich., to say: “We’re happy. Everyone’s fine and I hope to see the baby soon.”
In her inimitable fashion, Madonna managed to provoke an international incident even as she headed into that most universal and unpolitical of events: childbirth. Since her Evita shoot in London in 1995, the capricious diva has enjoyed a budding romance with the city that eventually bloomed after she met Ritchie at a lunch at Sting’s house on Father’s Day in 1998. Madonna, who counts Prince Charles among her new friends, told Britain’s Heat magazine, “I’m having a love affair with England.” Yet when deejay Dees asked Madonna if she had considered a Britain-based birth, she retorted, “C’mon, have you been to the hospitals in England? They’re old and Victorian…. I like efficiency.”
Even Brits given to carping about their free National Health Service professed shock. Chided Member of Parliament Nick Harvey: “Maternity-ward staff are under enough pressure without having to deal with pampered jet-setters.” Dr. Paul Fleiss, the L.A. pediatrician who handled Lourdes’s postpartum checkups, notes, “In England, you don’t get the celebrity treatment you’d get here.”
Little Lourdes, nicknamed Lola, may find it an adjustment sharing the limelight with her new brother. Until now she has had exclusive dibs on several adults’ affections. Her father, Madonna‘s ex-boyfriend Carlos Leon, 34, visits three or four times a week when Madonna is at her Manhattan duplex near Central Park. And relatives of Ritchie, whose new film Snatch’d stars Brad Pitt and is due to open in Britain Sept. 1, say he is wrapped around the child’s finger. Madonna, who lost her own mother to cancer when she was 5, is a famously devoted mom who’s turned down tours and movie offers to stick close to home. “She spends a lot of time with her daughter,” says friend Trudie Styler, wife of Sting. “She is very fair with her, but she is also quite firm.” Lourdes is allowed to watch very little television, for example, and has a strict bedtime. Shortly before announcing her second pregnancy, Madonna said of Lourdes: “I think she’s incredibly spoiled. She needs a bit of competition.”
Lourdes, it would seem, doesn’t fall far from the family tree. In July, when Madonna decamped with her daughter and Ritchie to Italy for a rare two-week vacation of walks, bike rides and mud baths, she made few new friends at the $6 million, 30-room Villa Carlini that she rented, then subsequently offered to buy, in the country town of Todi. “She made demands that no other guest has ever made,” says housekeeper Silvana Constanzi. “She had us take out the mattress because she said it itched; she even moaned about the insects in the garden.” According to owner Marina Ripa Di Meana, the sale hinges on whether her husband can bear to unsettle their four pug dogs.
While Madonna and Ritchie have given no hints of wedding plans, Madonna, whose only marriage, to Sean Penn, ended in 1985 after four years, told Britain’s The Face magazine, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with him!” In a May interview with London’s ES magazine, the never-married Ritchie, whose parents divorced when he was 5, said of marriage, “Haven’t really talked about it. We’re happy as we are, plodding along….” Either way, they have put out the word: They intend to raise Rocco “as a family.”
For the Lady from Wales, a Prince
Dylan Michael Douglas may have inherited his mother’s thick, raven-colored hair. But it was a trait from his father’s side that leaped out at Catherine Zeta-Jones moments after her fiancé, Michael Douglas, cut the baby’s umbilical cord at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at 5:52 p.m. on Aug. 8. “She screamed and said, ‘Look at that dimple!'” reports proud grandfather Kirk Douglas, 83. The next day, the acting family’s patriarch saw it for himself. “It’s even bigger than mine!” he brags. “That dimple made me feel especially close to him,”
Granddad is not the only one cheering Dylan’s birth. In Zeta-Jones’s hometown of Swansea, Wales (pop. 180,000), Welsh flags were festooned on a local arcade, fans lined up to sign the town’s book of congratulations at the Dylan Thomas Center and shopkeepers popped champagne corks. “We think it’s fab,” says Joanne Joshua, a hairdresser in the seaside neighborhood of Mumbles, where Zeta-Jones often shops when she’s back. “She’s put Mumbles on the map too.” Zeta-Jones’s maternal grandmother, Kathleen Fair, 84, held a gathering for friends at her Swansea home. “We are all delighted to hear they’re doing well,” she told the press. “We can’t wait to see them.”
Baby presents are already on the way. Douglas’s pal publicist Bobby Zarem had a Tiffany’s silver spoon sent overnight, and, says an industry friend, “everybody’s sending gifts.”
As for the proud parents, says producer Edward Zwick, who spoke with Zeta-Jones and Douglas after the birth, “they’re both ecstatic.”
Naturally. The pair have been deliriously doe-eyed since their surprise engagement last New Year’s Eve in Aspen, when Douglas, 55, presented Zeta-Jones, 30, with a 10-carat vintage 1920s diamond engagement ring. By then they were already expecting and had signed on for Traffic, a crime drama due in December, in which the characters of Douglas and Zeta-Jones are on opposite sides of the law. The script didn’t call for a pregnancy, but Zeta-Jones successfully lobbied director Steven Soderbergh to write one in. “I said, ‘I think you can use it,'” she told PEOPLE in March. “And he did.”
The actress, who first made her mark in The Mask of Zorro, worked right up until June, taking vitamins and walking to stay in shape. She relieved the pressure of one long day on the San Diego set with a pregnancy massage and often had quiet dinners with Douglas.
When her part of the filming was complete, Zeta-Jones retreated to Douglas’s mansion on the Spanish island of Majorca with her parents, mother Pat, 56, a homemaker, and father Dai Jones, 54, a businessman. (Zeta-Jones has two brothers, David, 32, and Lyndon, 28, both of whom work for her.) After Douglas finished shooting on June 22, the pair vacationed at his Aspen ranch over the Fourth of July holiday. With them was Douglas’s son Cameron, 21, his only child with ex-wife Diandra, 44. (A nightclub deejay in Manhattan, Cameron was arrested there last year on misdemeanor charges of cocaine possession but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct.)
Older and wiser, his father told the Spanish magazine Brisas that he was looking forward to becoming a second-time dad. “When Cameron was born I was much more dedicated to my career. Now I can be a better husband, spend more time with my son and also share in the success of my wife.”
Make that future wife. The couple couldn’t wed earlier in the year because Douglas’s protracted divorce from Diandra, his wife of 22 years, was not finalized until June. (Zeta-Jones, though once engaged, has never been married.) Instead the couple, who have signed a prenuptial agreement, focused on the impending birth.
Returning from Aspen weeks before the due date, Zeta-Jones relaxed at Douglas’s spacious Beverly Hills condominium. The couple had chosen not to know the sex of the baby before the birth, so there was extra anticipation. “She was just waiting it out,” says Fati Parsia, her personal stylist. “It was a very exciting time for her and Michael.”
At about 7 a.m. on Aug. 8, the official due date, Zeta-Jones and Douglas headed for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Some 11 hours later, 7-lb. 7-oz. Dylan arrived. By all accounts, Zeta-Jones sailed through labor. The pair “only stayed at the hospital one night,” reports Kirk. “She’s talking about playing golf!” Which is more than can be said for Douglas. “When I first saw them,” says Kirk, “I said, ‘Michael, Catherine looks terrific, but you look haggard.'”
As any parent knows, the real work lies ahead. Pals predict Zeta-Jones will be a devoted mom. “She’ll have the same qualms all new mothers have,” says Zeta-Jones’s costume-designer friend Penny Rose, “but she’ll cope admirably, because she’s a very sensible girl.”
With one happy event out of the way, the pair can concentrate on the next: their wedding. Some expect they might marry on their joint birthday, Sept. 25. Whenever the knot is tied, however, another birth announcement is a distinct possibility. “Michael has wanted to have more children for years,” says longtime Douglas pal George Blumenthal. “And Catherine comes from a good-size family. It’s hard to imagine they won’t have a gaggle of kids.”
For Model Iman, the Waiting Is Over
Midway through her pregnancy, former model Iman bumped into fellow expectant mom Catherine Zeta-Jones at a dinner and wound up comparing girths. “Catherine said, ‘Oh, look at you! You’re looking so skinny,'” Iman recalls. “I said, ‘Don’t believe that! I’m sitting on it.’ And I swear to God, she had a bigger stomach than I and I had a bigger butt than her!”
Next time the pair meet they can swap feeding tips instead. On Aug. 15, just seven days after Zeta-Jones produced a son, Iman, 45, gave birth to a girl, 7-lb. 4-oz. Alexandria Zahra Jones, in New York City. And like Michael Douglas a week earlier, Iman’s husband, David Bowie, 53 (whose original surname was Jones), was there to cut the umbilical cord. “She’s a little bit tired, but she’s doing well and she’s very happy,” reports Iman’s father, Mohamed Abdulmajid, 67, a retired Somali diplomat who lives in Annandale, Va. The baby, he adds, is “very healthy.”
Friends of the glittering pair were quick to wish them well. “I’m sure she’ll be an amazing mother,” fellow model Naomi Campbell said hours after the birth. “I’m happy for her and David both.” Fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo could barely contain his excitement: “It’s fabulous! It’s sensational! It’s another beauty for the world.”
Not to mention another clotheshorse. At a Manhattan shower tossed by Isabella Rossellini and modeling agent Bethann Hardison, Iman was inundated with designer baby booty—along with a stuffed fish with big red lips from Lauren Hutton that was instantly nicknamed Mick. “If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have known that Hermes made baby shoes,” says writer Fran Lebowitz, who brought an 18th-century children’s book.
Iman and Bowie, who wed in 1992, aren’t new to parenthood. Her 22-year-old daughter Zulekha (Dad is ex-husband and former pro basketball star Spencer Haywood) is a senior at Michigan State; David’s son with his ex-wife actress Angela Barnett, Duncan Jones, 29 (who went by his middle name Zowie in his early years), is a student in London. After trying for more than a year to conceive, Somalian-born Iman resorted to an old African fertility custom that counsels a woman having trouble getting pregnant to hold a baby for a day. On a photo shoot last September, she seized her chance, borrowing Christie Brinkley’s 14-month-old girl Sailor. “And boom!” she told Rosie O’Donnell in April. “I got pregnant a few months later.”
Blissfully so. “There’s a huge kind of concern that’s been erased from her face now,” Bowie said in April, “as though everything now makes perfect sense.” As for Dad: He was over the moon. “He looks so silly with his stupid grin,” Iman told O’Donnell, “I keep on saying to him that people might think that he is back on drugs.”
Hardly. In fact, Bowie, a self-proclaimed homebody these days, cut back his concert touring to spend time at home in Manhattan with his wife. For her part, Iman, an entrepreneur who launched her second makeup line in May, spent much of the remainder of her pregnancy knitting, practicing yoga and indulging in massages. “She’s really, really ready for this,” said Bowie, “as indeed am I.”
Maybe too ready? “I told him, ‘You shouldn’t have the baby attached to your bed all the time,'” Iman said in April. “And he said, ‘Okay, then I’ll sleep in the nursery!'”
Jill Smolowe; J.D. Reed and Anne-Marie O’Neill
Reported by: Nina Biddle, Caris Davis and Pete Norman in London; Liz Corcoran and Robin Turner in Swansea; Alec Marr in Italy; Michelle Caruso, Mark Dagostino, Michael Fleeman, Elizabeth Leonard, Jamie Reno and Pamela Warrick in Los Angeles; K.C. Baker, Sharon Cotliar, Alexander Drexler, Danielle Dubin, Jennifer Longley, Elizabeth McNeil, Natasha Stoynoff and Fannie Weinstein in New York City; and Sara Gay Damman in Michigan