Well over 50 years ago, when such things were relevant, a picture of my mother and I graced the front page of the local newspaper because I was the first baby born of that New Year (no need for specifics here).
I came into the world a few minutes after midnight, January 1, and apparently that was newsworthy. Thirty years later, my son Trevor and I graced the front page of the local newspaper because he was the first baby born in Burlington County on February 29, 1984. That the two of us came into the world 30 years apart and made a mark on our very first day, still amazes me. Especially since the journey was anything but easy.
I married at 19 and gave birth to our first child at age 30. The 11 years in between were often filled with heartache, stress, anxiety and tests…lots and lots of tests. But, thanks to answered prayers and good doctors, we were finally where we wanted to be. And then the little one decided to come early.
My husband had just left for work when it became instantly apparent that I was in the start of labor. No cell phones those days so I called my sister, who lived right around the corner. She was in the middle of preparing for my baby shower which was to be held about 8 hours later.
It was going to be a big shower, loads of food, family and friends. She and my sister-in-law had invited all of the people whose baby showers I reluctantly went to over the last 11 years, bearing gifts and forced smiles…all of the people who were truly celebrating this long-sought event, with me and for me. She was decorating when I called to tell her that I needed a ride.
In seconds, she was coming through the front door. “What do you mean you’re in labor?” she questioned with the anxiousness that only a woman who had 12 pounds of meatballs and sauce simmering in crock pots would ask.
“My water broke and the doctor told me to go right over to the hospital,” I answered knowing full well that it was five weeks too early.
We quickly got in the car and were on our way when she turned to me and said “You can’t have this baby today. He’ll only have a birthday every four years!”
“What the heck was she talking about?” I thought to myself. I had no idea what the date was. I only knew that it wasn’t April 4, the date I needed it to be.
Throughout that long, long day, the subject of this “date” kept coming up among nurses, my husband and my sister. Going in and out of awareness, I was picking up that the room was divided on whether having the birthday of February 29 was “unique” or a “hassle” being that the date is on the calendar only once every four years.
At that time, I really didn’t care. This kid was going to be born this day, even if I had to go in and get him! And he was, and all was good! Even being premature, he was almost seven pounds and deemed fit and ready to face the world.
But it wasn't really until the next morning that the significance of his birthdate was brought to my attention again when a photographer from the local newspaper came in and asked if he could take a picture of the two of us. I instantly saw my mother, with me propped in her arms, on the front page of the Courier-Post 30 years earlier. I felt my first connection to her in years. "Thanks Mom," I whispered as I wiped away tears. "It's just a local paper," the somewhat embarrassed, photographer explained. "Well, it means the world to me," I answered as I propped my son in my arms.
Today, 28 years and 7 birthdays later, I am in my kitchen baking a cake and wondering if Trevor feels the same way that I do about this “special” birthdate he owns. “I like it,” he answered when I called him. “I like not being like everyone else.”
Well, there is truth to that statement in so many ways...good ways, unique ways. But there is still a small rub, though, when it’s not a leap year, the two of us have an ongoing debate on which day to celebrate. I say he was born the day after February 28, “no matter was the date is.” He steadfastly maintains that he was born the last day of February, “no matter what the date is.” So, for three out of four years there is always some confusion as to what day we should light the candles on his cake.
But the fact that we even have that confusion is still viewed as a blessing to his father and I. He is here, and that is all that matters. And, ironically, his birth cured whatever fertility issues we were having, because 11 months later, his brother, Kyle was born—another February birthday. And since Kyle celebrates his birthday as if it were a national holiday, it’s probably best that he has one every year! My husband and I celebrate them both every day. February 29, 2012. Happy 7th Birthday, Trevor! I hope you have at least 20 more!