Happy Leap Day! But not always happy birthday in suburbs
Some suburban moms-to-be avoid it, some embrace it
Lynne and Edward Shim had a big choice to make when their doctor told them Lynne needed to have an induced labor this week.
The Roselle couple could let their baby girl, who was due eight days ago, be born on a day that she would share with countless others, or give her a birthday that no one could (hopefully) ever forget.
"She waited this long; we thought it would be nice to have a unique birth date for her," Lynne said about their decision to head to Advocate Lutheran Hospital in Park Ridge on Leap Day morning to bring their daughter into the world.
Labeling Leap Day a good or bad date for a birthday is a source of debate among moms-to-be today.
Many area obstetricians and gynecologists report that most of their pregnant patients don't want to have their babies born on a day that comes around only every four years.
But the Shims, and other mothers who had already scheduled to give birth at suburban hospitals on Leap Day, seem confident they are making the right decision.
"I did research at first because I didn't want our baby to feel like she was given the short end of the stick on this," Lynne said, adding that she also has a special birthday, on New Year's Day. "It looked like people really liked the fact that they could choose (a day to celebrate).
"I think that she would like having a choice between celebrating her birthday on the 28th or the 1st," she said. "And it's always a conversation starter."
Michelle Goetz gave birth to her twin daughters, Kaitlyn and Courtney, on Leap Day 2000 at Advocate Lutheran General.
The former North Aurora resident, who now lives in Manhattan, Ill., was only 34 weeks pregnant at the time, but because of complications her doctor decided she should deliver early.
"It didn't even dawn on me that it was February 29," she said. "I do remember when I had the girls that there was nobody being induced. People didn't want a February 29 baby. Personally, I think it's kind of cool that they're born on February 29."
The girls will turn 3 in leap years today, and Michelle said they find a lot of fun in their special birthday.
"I wouldn't change it," she said. "You work with it. It doesn't bother me, it doesn't bother the girls. I like the uniqueness of it."
Doctors say not all their patients are as easygoing about the date as Goetz.
Dr. Thomas Chen, of Terrance OB/GYN in Oakbrook Terrace, said none of his patients are due today, but when he talked to one patient about possibly being induced on Leap Day, she requested a different date.
"Most people don't want it. I think it's one of those things of, 'When do you (celebrate) their birthdays?'" he said, but added with a laugh, "(A birthday) once every four years is not so bad when you get my age."
Chen said his patients seemed less worried to deliver their baby on Leap Day than to have their child born on Sept. 11.
Kathy Gerber, a nurse at WomanCare in Arlington Heights, said one patient from the practice is scheduled to give birth today, but overall moms-to-be are saying they don't want to deliver on Leap Day.
Gerber said in her experience, women are more interested in giving birth on dates that have the same number for the day, month and year, such as Aug. 8, 2008, or Oct. 10, 2010.
A receptionist for Dr. Brad Lawrence Epstein of Suburban Women's Health Specialists in Elgin said one of Epstein's patients asked that her induction be delayed so her baby would be born on March 1 instead of Leap Day. The patient was concerned about her child not having birthdays every year.
Despite all the negative talk about Leap Day birthdays, some "leapers," like Alice Maupin of St. Charles, love the date.
"For one thing, you'll never grow old," said Maupin, who turns "14" this year. "When it does come around, like it does this year, it makes it an extra special day."
Maupin's mother, who like Lynne Shim also was born on New Year's Day, didn't care what day she would be giving birth.
"As far as childbirth is concerned I would not promote it one way or another — what it is, is what it is," Maupin said. "I wouldn't have any qualms about having a child on a leap year. I've had a lot of fun with it over the years."
And not every soon-to-be mom is avoiding the date.
At Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights three women are scheduled to be induced on Leap Day and one is having a scheduled cesarean section, said hospital spokesman Blaine Krage.
Two scheduled inductions also are planned at Sherman Hospital in Elgin. Both mothers came in Tuesday evening on the recommendation of their physicians.
One sentiment all pregnant mothers can probably agree on is that they want their child, whether born on Leap Day or not, to come into the world safe.
"All we want is a healthy baby," Lynne Shim said. "So if she comes (today or tomorrow) ... we'll be tickled."
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