Ainsley Weber, a seasonal resident of West Chop, is getting ready to celebrate her leap year birthday Saturday.
Ainsley was born at Massachusetts General Hospital on Feb. 29, 2000, at 3:59 pm, making her birthday an extra-special occasion.
According to Ainsley’s mother, Bonnie, she thought first babies were mostly late, but when she started having contractions a week before her initial due date on March 6, she was surprised and elated.
Nearly every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar in the form of Feb. 29, according to the History channel. While the modern calendar contains only 365 days, the actual time it takes the earth to travel around the sun is slightly longer than that. To maintain consistency with the true astronomical year, it is necessary to periodically add an extra day to make up for that lost time.
At first, Bonnie’s mother told her that 2000 was a leap year, and suggested it would be cool to have a leap year baby.
Bonnie said she has a friend from England who had a baby and told her, “Oh, it was very civilized. He was born at teatime.”
Bonnie hoped she would have her baby at teatime (4 pm) on the leap year, and she said it was beyond her wildest expectations that both of those wishes came true.
“I started having contractions, and I said to my husband, ‘Well, I guess it’s time,’” she said.
One of Bonnie’s friends was also due to have a baby, but she was “able to hold on past midnight,” so her daughter was born on March 1. One of the questions Bonnie constantly gets about her leap year daughter is when they celebrate her birthday.
“Lots of people wonder whether it’s the 28th or the first of March. I read that leap year babies like to have their birthday in February,” Bonnie said. “But it seems like Ainsley has her birthday continue for a full week. She doesn’t complain about that.”
Bonnie said she had T shirts made for this year’s birthday reading “Ainsley is five.”
Once she had Ainsley, Bonnie said, other leap year parents started “coming out of the woodwork.”
“I think they call themselves leaplings,” Bonnie said.
When Bonnie was living with her family in Chinatown after Ainsley was born, she said people would come up to Ainsley while she was in her stroller and offer her lucky money.
“It was the craziest thing. I guess in Chinese culture, it was the year of the dragon, which is a year of great luck and prosperity,” Bonnie said. “I guess I was lucky too.”
Ainsley told The Times via text that she ends up celebrating her birthday for an entire week because no one knows when to actually celebrate it.
“This year, my friend advertised my birthday as ‘a day that only comes 20 times every 80 years.’”
Her math teachers are always especially excited about her birthday, with one even bringing in cupcakes to her class four years ago.
Last year, Ainsley’s professor proudly announced that her math class had two babies born on a leap day. “The other kid was actually sitting right behind me,” Ainsley said.