If you could choose to have a leap year baby born on February 29th, would you? This is a question my husband and I posed ourselves when we realized that our second child, whose due date is February 27th, 2016, had a very real chance of being born on leap day which only arrives once every four years. Because our first child was born ten days late via unscheduled C-section, we had the option of electing for another C-section this time around. Though some OBs insist on scheduling the surgery a week before your due date to avoid your going into labor beforehand, mine is very flexible. That meant we could select a later date and February 29th was an option on the table. Or we could try again for a natural birth (VBAC) in which case this baby could still just happen to arrive on leap day.
My initial reaction was, no way! My reasoning was that this child would miss out on the excitement of waking up every year (instead of every four years) on their special day and knowing that today would be all about them. My husband on the other hand thought it’d be kinda rad. He (being mathematically-minded) rationalized that their birthday would be even more special because it is the most unlikely birthday to have BY FAR (1 in 1461 in fact) and odds are that they wouldn’t have to share their celebration with anyone else at school. In other words, if you’re born on any other day of the year, you share your birthday with about four times as many people as a leap day person.
I asked my friends what they would do, and the answers were resoundingly mixed. Some have friends with leap day birthdays who think it’s super cool. It’s a conversation starter for sure, and something that just gets better as you age. Case in point: when you’re 64, you’d honestly get to say you’re only 16. If only it worked that way for real – you’d age at 1/4 the rate of everyone else and live 4 times as long…the perfect candidate for a long space trip to Mars! From a parenting perspective, another friend reasoned that you’d only have to throw one birthday party every 4 years (though let’s get real, there’s no way you can get away with that and not end up paying for your child’s therapy years later especially if they have a sibling with an annual birthday). One more for the pro column: I suspect you’d get to take double advantage of those restaurant promotions like a free birthday dessert, because you could go out on February 28th and March 1st in a non-leap year and they’d likely honor your ID both days.
On the other hand, some friends know people with leap day birthdays who really hate not having a “real birthday” three out of every four years. As a young child it could be really sad not to have that one special day where everything is about you. Conversely, from a parenting perspective, if you decide to celebrate your leap year baby’s birthday on February 28th AND March 1st, that could alienate regular birthday siblings and also set unrealistic expectations of double birthday celebrations for the rest of their lives.
So what is a parent to do? Well, we agreed to roll the dice and let fate decide…to a certain extent. I will attempt a VBAC if this baby decides to come on or around its due date. However we also set a fallback C-section date for early March. That way, if we do end up with a leap day baby, it will be what was supposed to be, and they can never resent us for artificially saddling them with – however you look at it – the most unique birth date in the calendar.