by Mercy's Jordan Larimore
There’s a good chance that a patient of Mercy’s Dr. Charles Albritton, a Leap Day baby and an OB-GYN, could end up having a baby this Leap Day. Seven of the doctor’s patients are expecting additions to their families and could find themselves in labor on Feb. 29. Because the special day occurs only every four years, a Leap Day birthday is a rarity. Of more than 45,000 employees, Dr. Albritton and 33 others are Mercy’s only co-workers with Leap Day birthdays.
Dr. Albritton, who will celebrate his eighth Leapling birthday this year, doesn’t have patients who have asked to be induced on Leap Day, but it’s still possible the Mercy doctor could wind up sharing his birthday with a new baby or two.
If that’s the case, he said he would encourage families to embrace the uniqueness of their child’s birthday.
“It’s a great ice-breaker and you can have a lot of fun with it,” said Dr. Albritton at Mercy Hospital Springfield. “It’s a great excuse to throw an extra big party every four years.”
There is a lot of confusion about whether to celebrate on Feb. 28 or March 1 for non-Leap Year birthdays, he said.
“I fall into the camp that would always celebrate on Feb. 28; it never felt right celebrating outside the month of February.”
Cindy Huelsing, another of Mercy’s co-workers with a Leap Day birthday, said her parents always made sure she understood that even though her actual birthday didn’t come around every year, it was something that made her special.
“My mom always explained to me that it was unique,” said Huelsing, a Mercy St. Louis courtesy van driver. “It was a special time and she’d say, ‘Just always remember that you’re unique in the way God created you and even the day you were born.’”
Susan Cougill, a service center tech with Mercy IT in Oklahoma City, said that as a kid, it was a big surprise and hard to understand only having an official birthday once every four years, and that it even caused some confusion into her adult life. She said that being a Leap Day baby nearly kept her from being allowed to join a celebration for her 21st birthday.
“I had all these people inside for my birthday party, and they wouldn’t let me in the door because it wasn’t my birthday,” she said. “Since it was Feb. 28, technically I wasn’t 21 yet. It took a lot of talking for me to get in that door, but they eventually let me in.”
As life went on, Cougill said she discovered that being a Leapling can have its perks, too.
“Then I got old enough to figure it out and I had kids and I grew to love being younger than them,” she said with a laugh. “My kids got old enough to where I’m younger than they are.”
While most people share their birthday with more than 19 million people on the planet, Leaplings, Leapers, or Leapsters share their special date with only five million people, making it a one in 1,461 chance.
For anyone planning an addition to their family, Leapling or not, download Mercy’s free baby-on-the-way guide below.