The driveway leading up to Madonna’s Mediterranean-style house is long enough to make the walk for the morning newspaper pass for exercise. But the arduous climb has its rewards. Just inside the glass-and-iron front door, there are two Frida Kahlo paintings. Nearby, on a table, is a breast pump and a stack of magazines. Turn right, and you walk down a hallway lined with many black-and-white photographs. There’s a step down into the spacious, sun-filled living room and a Diego Rivera oil hanging over the fireplace.
It’s a gorgeous house. Yet something seems off to Madonna, who strolls barefoot into the room wearing a low-cut navy T-shirt and a long skirt with denim panels. Her eyes more repeatedly from the display of photos on the baby grand piano of her almost-4-year-old daughter, Lourdes, to the empty space at the far end of the room. “I’m in the process of moving, and some of the furniture has been sent out to be re-covered,’ says Madonna, who recently bought Diane Keaton’s home in Beverly Hills. “Everything’s kind of in disarray right now.”
For Madonna, this is not a time of neatness, order or business as usual. Just three weeks earlier, she brought home her second child. Rocco Ritchie. from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The baby had arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, and his birth wasn’t exactly easy. Since then, Madonna has come to realize that, even with an army of assistants and a hands-on, live-in boyfriend. British film director Guy Ritchie – and even if you’re pop culture’s mother of reinvention – at age 42, having a second child is a big adjustment “I wake up every morning and try to have a really scheduled day,” she says. “But I can’t do it. I t’s really hard when you’re breast-feeding.” Like many new mothers, Madonna is feeling a bit housebound. “She’s dying to put on clothes with a tight waistband, some high heels, do her hair and go out and be fabulous,” says actress Debi Mazar, a friend from New York since the mid-1980s. “She’s ready to have fun.”
But fun will have to wait a while. At about 2:00 P.M., Rocco, who has light hair like his father, begins to stir from his lunchtime nap, his cries and whimpers audible from down the hall. Madonna shakes her fist and reveals the steely attitude that made her so convincing in 1996’s Evita. “There will be life after breast-feeding!” she declares.
Madonna likes to cram as much as possible into each passing moment, which is why scheduling is so important to her. Ritchie’s new film, Snatch, premiered in London on August 23, and her much-anticipated new album, Music, hit stores September 18; she had planned to give birth to her second child the first week of September. In fact, a C-section had already been penciled in to her calendar. But there was an abrupt change of plans on August 10, when early in the evening, Madonna, while home in Los Feliz, began to bleed – and immediately summoned Ritchie from a Los Angeles screening of his film. “He met me at the hospital,” says Madonna “Though he likes to think that he carried me inside.”
In an ideal situation, Ritchie, 32, might have indulged such a chivalrous impulse, but this was a serious matter. Months earlier, Madonna had been diagnosed with placenta previa, a complication that develops in about 1 in 250 pregnancies when the placenta covers part or all of the cervix, causing the mother to hemorrhage and the baby’s blood supply to be cut off. “Basically, because you can hemorrhage, they tell you that they don’t want you going into labor,” she explains. “So I had arranged to have a C-section two weeks before my original due date.”
But of course Madonna showed up at the hospital two weeks before her appointment, in no condition — or mood — to wait. “When I went in,” she says, “they were like, ‘You can have your hair done. You can have your nails done.’ And I’m like. ‘Are you kidding me? I don’t care about that now. Just give me some morphine.'”
The nurses complied, and so did Rocco, who was born, weighing five pounds, nine ounces, about three hours after Madonna entered the hospital, at just before 1 A.M. She had already decided to name him after one of her uncles. “I went through all my relatives – Guido. Gatano, Silvio and Rocco.” says Madonna. “Guy kept going, ‘No, no, no, that’s way too fancy.’ Finally I said. ‘All right, he can have your English last name – its actually Scottish – and an Italian first name.'”
Contrary to rumors, Rocco’s life was never in danger. “It wasn’t as dramatic as everyone portrays it,” says Madonna. “But because he was a month premature, they put him in intensive care to make sure his lungs were developed enough.” Though she was released from the hospital after two days. Rocco stayed the rest of the week, requiring Madonna to show up every day for feeding. “I sat in a little room next to intensive care, reading books and running in there every three hours,” she says.
Finally, on August 16 — her birthday — Madonna and Ritchie took Rocco home. Later that night, some close friends and family joined them, and Rocco’s big sister, for a small birthday dinner. “The whole week was emotional, as you’d expect, but I’m not going into every little detail,” says Madonna. “Let’s just say the day we brought him home was a very happy one.”
That feeling radiates through the household. “Fatherhood is unbelivable,” Ritchie said a few weeks after Rocco’s birth. “I suppose it’s like a huge wave of love but much stronger than that.”