After 24 years of celebrating her birthday every four years, now Erica Austin has twice the reason to celebrate every time February 29th comes around.
The 24-year-old woman from Shorewood, IL gave birth to a baby girl, Arielle Blanchard on her “leap day” birthday at Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL. The baby was born at 1:08 p.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, measuring 19.25 inches long.
Just hours after giving birth, Austin joked, “It’s just different. … And I’ll stay young and my daughter will stay young.”
On non-Leap Years, Austin usually celebrates her own birthday on Feb. 28, and her family often gives her gag gifts like Barbie dolls since she technically has only had as many birthdays as a person one fourth of her age.
Erica’s mother, Sandy Austin, recalls reporters coming out to cover the Leap Year birth, but getting called away to a bigger story when a funeral home right next door to the hospital caught fire.
Sandy Austin said, “She lost her day of fame so she’s having it now.”
Austin made the trip to the hospital several times, starting when she thought she was going into labor early Tuesday morning. Doctors finally decided that she should stay at around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
The doctors had already stated that they would not induce labor just to give the mother and daughter the same birthday. The doctor who delivered Arielle, Dr. John Josupait, did say he was happy to see it worked out for the family.
Josupait said, “I’ve been doing this 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The father, Aaron Blanchard, 27, said he is ecstatic to be a father and called her birth “a miracle.” He said, “It feels really good…I love her so much. I never knew I could feel this way but I do.”
Erica Austin agreed, saying, “I can’t even describe it…It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt.”