SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Pope Paul III, famous Montreal Canadien Henri ‘The Pocket Rocket’ Richard, and rapper Ja Rule have all come into the world on leap days, and now little Grace Mitchell of East Greenwich joins them. Mitchell is the first-born leap baby at South County Hospital in 2012, and her parents are overjoyed that their daughter has come on such a unique day.
“It is exciting and doesn’t come very often,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Grace’s mother. “She came on actual due date and I wasn’t sure she’s be on time, but she was ready.”
Dr. Mary Christina Simpson, who delivered the Mitchells’ leap baby Grace, has always enjoyed the moments parents share when their children are born on a day which occurs every four years. The toughest part, says Simpson, is for parents to decide when birthdays will be held in non-leap years.
“I always ask parents when they will celebrate the children’s birthday, and the best answer I get is the following Saturday,” said Simpson. Parents are always very excited, as well as for the physicians because it happens so rarely. A leap day is like New Years Day, which are the most exciting days to deliver.”
“Every four years, they’ll have a really big party,” she added.
The Mitchells do not yet know how they will celebrate Grace’s birthday on non-leap years.
“I think it will be hard, but we will probably celebrate her birthday on Feb. 28,” said Mitchell. “It will be awkward, but my husband says she will be able to stay young forever.”
The leap day is inserted into the modern calendar because the earth makes a full revolution around the sun in 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds, thus accumulating almost a full 24-hour cycle every four years. The extra day is added in order to better align the calendar with the sun’s position in the sky.
Because the extra hours, minutes, and seconds do not add up to a day completely, however, a leap year cannot be so unless it is divisible by 400. 1600 and 2000 were leap years, for example, but not 1900 or 1700.
As the first leap-year baby of 2012 at South County Hospital, Grace Mitchell will always have an interesting tale to tell.