I’m going to start off about what I like about those born on a leap day, that is the 29th day of February (today), which only comes on the calendar every four years; they are forever young.
Assuming, I was a February 29th baby and I clocked 30 this year, then I can claim being 30 years old for the next four years, until my date comes on the calendar again, and that’s not cheating. Or give my technical age, 7 years old, after all that’s the number of times my birthday has come on the calendar since I was born ☺. While I like it, babies don’t like it, and even some moms don’t like it. They do all they can to have their baby on the 1st of March, or 28th of February.
Take a little girl I know, whose name is Rodiyat. Four years ago, when she was turning four, she insisted on a big production birthday party,with cartoon characters. She actually dictated what she wanted the party to entail, right down to her cake and her dress. She also wanted lots of people to attend, both children like her and adults. Back then, I told her mom that she was having four years worth of birthday parties in one go.
Even as her mom was calculating costs, and wanting to let go of somethings, by playing the daddy card, Rodiyat was able to have her way and get exactly the birthday she wanted.
Here’s Rodiyat’s leap day birth story, which I learnt about during that big production birthday, a few years ago. While pregnant with her, her second child, her mom had been told that her EDD was the 28th of February. She actually did not pay much attention to that EDD business, as her experience with her first birth had proved them wrong. She gave birth a full three weeks before the EDD, and her baby was no preemie.
Besides, none of her seven sisters had ever given birth on their EDD, so it was dismissed. The possibility of giving birth on the 29th of February wasn’t even on her horizon.
Guess what happened! She did not give birth weeks before her EDD, as she had expected. As the EDD got closer, she became anxious about being induced, and she was so tired, she wanted the whole business over and done with. Well, her EDD passed, and on the 29th, her first point of call was the hospital to complain that her EDD had passed, and what were they going to do about it.
Her doctor laughed at her, and said he was going to give her some more days, and if she still did not go into labour, then he might have to induce. That was the word she did not want to hear.
She went home and all her focus was on that inducement. I guess the fact that she was so worried about being induced, actually induced labour, because she went into labour later that day, and gave birth to her daughter in the last hour of the day.
It was only after she gave birth and was being congratulated on her baby’s birth, that it was brought to her notice that her baby is a leap day baby, who will only have a birthday once every four years. And she was all like, “That’s cool, having a special baby!”, much like her niece, who was born on the 1st of January.
That cool feeling started to erode on the day her daughter started to ask questions about why she did not celebrate her birthday like every one else. The fact that her brother gets a birthday cake, and distributes goodie bags every year, while she didn’t have an actual date until her fourth birthday, did not help at all.
After her fourth birthday, they started to do something special for her on the 28th instead. Even though she wasn’t appeased initially, the now 11 year old Madam seems to have been well appeased.
While it just happened for Rodiyat’s Mom, this mom of twins, who are having their first official birthday today, had preemclapsia, and it was a medical emergency that led to the babies coming out early, before anything went amiss.
It had been a textbook normal pregnancy, until the last few weeks of the pregnancy, when her doctor noticed the symptoms of preemclapsia. They managed the situation until her 36th week, and immediately scheduled her for a C-section. The date picked was February 29, as that was the closest date. Asked if she wanted to wait, she vehemently said no, and it was not because she wanted leap day babies, but because she wanted her babies out and safe.
It was only later that the uniqueness of the day dawned on her. She tries to make a big deal of their birthday, which they had always celebrated on the 28th of February, but their date on the calendar is an even bigger deal this year; apart from the school party, she’s planned to take them for a play spree, from the fun zone to virtual 3D rides, and, of course, lots and lots of sugar bingeing. Their dad has been mandated to come home earlier, so he will not miss the celebration for this very special birthday.
Again, I love the fact that they are forever young, imagine being 40 years old, conventionally, but you are technically celebrating your 10th birthday. Sweet, I tell you! As the years go by, even your children will become older than you are.
February 29th babies are indeed special, as the chances of being born on this day are one in 1,461, and there are approximately 4.8 million people in the world with this special birthday.
Do you know anyone whose birthday is today? Biko, celebrate them! Their birthday is like the rare moon; once in four years. And for the moms who worry about birthing their babies on that date, worry no more! What’s more important is that your baby is healthy. Birthdays can always be sorted when the baby is here.
Happy birthday to those celebrating, and baby dust to all!
Oluwakemi is a member of The Fertile Chick family, and she is a writer, dreamer and mother of two sets of twins. She is passionate about issues that concern women, and does not shy away from airing her views. And words are her weapon of choice! She is reachable on her handle @oluwakemi
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