Today is not my son's birthday. It wasn't his birthday yesterday either. In fact he will not celebrate another birthday for three years. You guessed it. Leap year baby. My little Leapling.
I knew he was going to be born on that day. Even on the day which I suspected to be the date of his conception I mentioned to my husband that he might be born on leap day. I thought it might be special, particularly as he is a fourth child. His due date was actually 22nd February, a date on which I was not keen for historical reasons but I never really worried because I knew he would be late. The other three were.
On the 29th February 2004 I woke up in labour. I knew I would be so I was all ready to go. My mum came to sit with the other three and off we headed for hospital. We got booked in, hooked up to the monitor and then everything stopped. No contractions. Nothing. "You can go home and come back later," they said. No way. I was there. My childcare was in place and my baby was going to be born on that day. I could see, however, that there was very little point my husband staying so I sent him away and began walking round the grounds of the hospital in an attempt to kick start labour again. I walked a circuit around the perimeter fence all day, stopping only to eat and wee ( so quite a lot of breaks). Then finally around 6 I called my husband back and waited for things to get going. Which they did. As it was my fourth labour I knew exactly what to do. It was all incredibly calm. I could even accurately predict how many more contractions I had to deal with before he came out. I say "he". We didn't actually know but I had seen something suspicious on a scan and was pretty certain I was carrying a boy. My husband had never believed me and was astounded when we produced a male.It was 9.50 pm. I had only just managed to achieve my goal.
Now that I had a child with a leap day birthday I started to think about the ramifications in more detail.Does age increase without an anniversary? Would he qualify for things measured by age? Would computers accept his date of birth? And perhaps the most perplexing, when shall we celebrate his birthday? This last question has been a source of great consternation. As far as I am concerned I was still pregnant on 28th February so how can that possibly be his birthday? However, the rest of the family seem to think he has to celebrate in the month of his birth and that a March birthday on the calendar just wouldn't be right. He is too young to choose himself yet although this year I think he would have gone for March if it hadn't been for the undue influence from my eldest.
As he has no birthday in most years I see no reason why he can't just pick a day he fancies. Neither 28th February nor 1st March are his birthday so why confine himself to one of those? Why not choose a nice June day so we can have a bouncy castle in the garden. Only I seem to think that this would be an acceptable arrangement. Does no one else have any imagination?
There is a web site for Leaplings. It's American of course and a bit schmultzy but you can get cool t-shirts that say things like " Be nice to me. My birthday isn't on the calendar!"There's a list of famous Leaplings and a Roll of Honour for all those who share this special day.
Last year of course he finally had a birthday. He was 4/1, as his sisters have taken to describing his age. It felt very special to me although I suspect it was just like all the others to him. Whilst he is quite bright he struggled with the concepts that allow for an extra calendar day every four years. Well I can't explain it with any precision.I really should try a bit harder so that I can cover it properly next time when he is 8/2.
So his non-birthday has come and gone for another year. He is 5/1 and has gone to bed a happy and tired little boy.Only three more years to go.