Leap Year Babies Have Rarest Birthdays

Mother Jarayle Chambers cuddles baby Ernest in her arms as she watches him sleep. Ernest was born at 12:40am at Howard University Hospital on Feb. 29 making him the hospital's first leap year baby of 2012.
Originally from El Salvador, mother Irina Linares of northwest Washington is thankful for newborn Keiry Cardona, who was born at Howard University Hospital at 8:40 a.m.
Photographs by Hamadi Price, Howard University

WASHINGTON – Ernest Delshawn Redd Jr, and Keiry Cardona are certainly different.  They come from different parts of the city and their parents even come from different countries.

But they have one thing in common that separates them from just about everybody else.  They are Leap Year babies, children with the rarest birthday of them all.

They were born Feb. 29, 2012 in Howard University Hospital.  Ernest was born at 12:40 a.m. and Keiry came into the world at 8:40 a.m.

They were resting comfortably with their mothers a day after their births, Ernest snuggled with Jarayle Cathryn Chambers of northeast Washington and Keiry cuddled with Irina Linares of northwest D.C., originally from El Salvador.

Sure, babies born the first day of the year, or those who come into the world on Christmas or July 4 or even Halloween have special birthdays, but they still don’t hold a candle to those born on Leap Year, which comes only once every four years.

Leap Days happen because it takes a little more than 365 days for the Earth to complete its rotation around the sun, about one-quarter of a day. To compensate for these lost quarter days, a 366th day is added every four years.  Thus, Feb. 29.

Howard University Hospital is used to unique deliveries.  Doctors and nurses at the hospital have delivered quintuplets.  They have delivered quadruplets and triplets.  Still, Leap Year babies are special, said Davene White, director of nursing of Maternal Child Health and clinical instructor of Pediatrics and Child Health at Howard University Hospital.

“Children born on a leap day are special because they only really get to celebrate their birthday’s every four years,” White said. “If you are born on Christmas or New Year’s Day that is special because it is a holiday, but that comes around every year.”

Being born on Feb. 29 can cause be a problem. Computer programs sometimes refuse to recognize Feb. 29 as a birthdate, insurance companies can refuse to accept it as a legitimate date and, for a while, Facebook even blocked users from entering Leap Day as their birthdate

And then, there is the question of when do you celebrate a day that comes only once every four years.

For Dalonte Sharp, who was born Feb. 29, 1988, picking a day to celebrate his birthday on non leap years was quite simple.

“I usually celebrate my birthday on March 1” Sharp said. “I’ve been celebrating it on the first for so long that now that it has unofficially become my birthday.

“But since Feb. 29 is my actual birthday, I go all out and celebrate it on both days every four years.”

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