Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Proud parents, Luis and Erica Ochoa, with Dennise, their second Leap Year Day baby.
Maybe Luis and Erica Ochoa should play the lottery.
After all, the births of their two daughters defied two sets of odds. There is a 1-in-about-1,500 chance of giving birth on Feb. 29, because the day comes only once every four years. Erica did that in 2008 with the birth of their first child, Lluvia. When she became pregnant again and was given a due date of March 11, her husband had different ideas.
“I told her the baby would be born on the same date, but she didn’t believe me,” said Luis Ochoa.
Lluvia didn’t want to become a big sister on her first real birthday, either.
“She’s always told us she’s the baby,” said Luis. “We told her she was going to be a big sister, but she didn’t want to share her birthday.”
The couple defied the odds again when Dennise Ochoa was born at 5:45 a.m., Feb. 29 at Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale. A hospital official said five babies were born there that day.
One Internet site lists the odds of two siblings being born on successive Leap Year Days as 2 million to 1.
“We’re still in shock,” said Erica Ochoa. “We still can’t believe it.”
For four years, the Ochoas celebrated Lluvia’s birthdays on either Feb. 28 or March 1.
“We’ll have two of them now,” said Erica. “We’ll have to do the same thing twice.”
The couple, who live in Jonesboro, met in Mexico, but didn’t connect romantically until they were both in the United States at the same time. Luis works as a mechanic.
Some moms would cringe at having single children who share the same birthday — multiple parties, multiple gifts. Erica Ochoa is not looking forward to having two girls share the same odd birthday.
However, her reasons go deeper than the superficial aggravation. It is tradition for Latin American countries to celebrate a girl’s 15th birthday in a lavish ceremony called a “quinceañera.” The celebration marks a girl’s transition into young womanhood.
“The 15th birthday is a big deal,” said Erica Ochoa, obviously disappointed. “But they won’t have the real birthday, neither one of them.”
Luis Ochoa said he understands the significance. “It is like a wedding,” he said. “There are seven boys and seven girls and the 15th is the main one, the one with the birthday. She won’t get that.”
Feb. 29 comes once every four years, including this one, and usually in years divisible by four. Leap years are created because a solar year is about 365.25 days long. Those four quarter days come together every four years to create an extra day in February.
Babies born on Feb. 29 are known as “leaplings” or “leapers” and have an actual birthday only once every four years. However, most observe their birthdays on Feb. 28 or March 1.
Celebrity leapers include actors, Dennis Farina and Antonio Sabato, Jr., motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, and the world’s only living Triple Crown-winning trainer, Billy Turner.