What do you do with your extra day every four years? Dr. John McCarter, an obstetrician, and two of his patients Michelle Chavez and Ashley Pritchett, spent their day in Labor and Delivery at Orem Community Hospital.
McCarter had delivered four leap day babies before 2 p.m. Saturday, a fair amount considering labor and delivery has been unusually quiet lately.
McCarter has been in private practice for nine years, in addition to his residence beforehand, and in all, he figures he has delivered about 5,000 babies — many of them on specialty dates chosen specifically by the parents.
“We really don’t encourage it, but some people like little quirks in the dates their babies are born,” McCarter said.
He said there are some popular ones like Groundhog Day, May the Fourth, Pi Day and Leap Day, to name a few. And of course, there is always the New Year’s babies.
Pritchett, who has been planning for months for her baby girl to be induced, wasn’t too excited for the Feb. 29 birthday. She wanted to deliver the day before right on the 39th week mark.
Michelle Chavez and her husband Sergio Chavez were sure of one thing: They didn’t want a March baby.
Their son Johnathan was born at 6:54 a.m. Saturday, weighing 7 pounds and 3 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. The parents said he has strong lungs and a head full of hair.
Grandparents from both sides of the family and Michelle’s sister were also there. Big brother Michael was the first person after mom and dad to see his brother.
Grandma Teresa Trejo, Michelle’s mother, was proud to greet her sixth grandchild.
“It’s exciting to watch and have a new grandchild,” Trejo said. “We’ll have bigger birthdays (every four years) with special presents for him.”
Chavez was to have a C-section Feb. 28, but there were some complications that delayed the delivery.
“We’ll have special birthdays every four years,” Michelle Chavez said.
Ashley and Austen Pritchett’s daughter, Demi, was born at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. She weighed 6 pounds and 3 ounces and was 19 inches long.
Ashley Pritchett, who was interviewed just one hour after her delivery, said between the stuffed leaping frog toy the hospital gave them and being interviewed, having the baby on Feb 29 went from bad to better.
“I didn’t want to have her on the 29th,” Pritchett said. “But it’s been so fun. The doctor gave us this date to be induced six months ago.”
The Pritchetts have three other girls at home with the youngest being 11 months old. The fourth one was a surprise.
“She kept wanting to postpone the delivery,” Austin Pritchett said. “We’re going to tell her (the baby) how cool it was.”
Austin Pritchett said their third baby was born on Pi day and the hospital delivered pies to the rooms.
There is one thing that both moms agreed on: They were happy their very own doctor McCarter was the delivery doc on call and that they had their babies at Orem Community Hospital.
“I love it here, it’s a totally different experience,” Ashley Pritchett said.
Both families said they are doing great. They are just waiting for those first birthday parties in four years.
To find out more about leap year birthday parties, Chavez and Pricthett could chat with Payson resident Cameron Spotten.
Spotten, who owns the Chillon Reception Center in Payson and deals in parties, knows how to celebrate. With a leap year birthday, he turned “12” on Saturday. He likes to say it that way, though he is really 48 years old.
“I have 16 years to go before I can drive,” Spotten quipped. “Traditionally, when I was younger we held my birthday March 1.”
He said his aunt used to keep the family’s birthday calendar and by the time he got to his teens he was allowed to celebrate his birthday any day he wanted.
“I had one on July 4 and on Groundhog Day,” Spotten said.
Spotten said he and a close cousin were due within three days of each other, but his cousin ended up waiting til St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, to be born.
To celebrate Spotten’s every-four-years parties in a special, outrageous way, Spotten’s party Saturday for about 60 people included 40 cheeseburgers and fries from McDonalds, pizzas from Two Jacks, Mexican food from Taco Time, and Chinese food from China Wok.
Spotten said he likes his parties “age-appropriate.”
For gifts, he was hoping for a BB gun. He has saved unopened past presents like a Mr. Potato Head, kites and other fun toys he shares with his grandkids.
“It was hard to be 1 and 2 years old in elementary school. The teachers made a big deal of it. It was really hard to be 2 in third grade,” Spotten said.
For the most part it’s been fun, and he suggests the Chavez and Pricthett families take their Leap Day births in stride.
“We didn’t plan for it but it’s a built-in excuse to party.” Spotten said.