Alpena resident Jessica Dietlin celebrates being a ‘leapling’ on her 11th official birthday

Courtesy Photo From left to right, Kaitlyn Dietlin, Jessica Dietlin, and Emily Dietlin pose behind a birthday cake earlier this week. Jessica Dietlin was born on Feb. 29 during a Leap Year and is celebrating her 11th official birthday today. Her daughters say their mom is the same age as they are.

ALPENA — Jessica Dietlin is celebrating her 11th birthday today. Her twin daughters are currently 11 years old.

In reality, Jessica Dietlin is turning 44 years old, but she was born on Feb. 29 during a leap year. That means today is only the 11th time she has been able to celebrate her birthday on the actual date of her birth.

Dietlin said outside of leap years, she typically celebrates her birthday on Feb. 28, except when the month is extended to 29 days and her actual birthday arrives. She said then the birthday celebration is a little larger.

Dietlin said her daughters like to give her grief that they are going to become teenagers before her, in terms of how many true birthdays each has had.

She said having a unique birthday is special and always a good topic for discussion.

“The kids think it is a blast now that they are the same age as me and surpass me in birthdays,” she said. “They always tell me when they are 15 years old, I’m only going to be 12.”

When Dietlin’s actual birthday rolls around every four years, she said her family and friends tend to go out with the celebrations.

“It’s kind of cool,” she said, “I celebrate my birthday every year either way, but when it lands on the 29th, people tend to do a little extra for me. I get a lot of cakes in those years and overall, we celebrate a lot more.”

Dietlin said there have been some pitfalls in being a leap-year baby. She said there are milestone birthdays that are impacted and certain celebrations that need to be delayed a day or so.

“When you want to celebrate your 21st birthday, obviously it is not going to be available to you on the 29th, so I had to wait until March 1,” she said. “The bars will not serve you until March 1. Normally a person would wait until midnight on the 28th to have their first legal drink, but I had to wait.”

According to a parenting website, Parents.com, there are only about 5 million people worldwide who were born on Feb. 29. You have a one in 1,461 chance of giving birth on Leap Day. Those statistics make Feb. 29 the rarest birthday to have.

People who have birthdays on Feb. 29 are often called a “leaper” or a “leapling” and can connect with other leaplings through the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies on social media.

A Leap Year is necessary because our calendar is not entirely in sync with Earth’s trip around the sun.

A common year has 365 days on the calendar while a leap year has an extra day. Their purpose keeps our calendar in sync with the seasons and solar year, or the length of time it takes the Earth to complete its orbit around the sun, which is about 365¼ days, according to timeanddate.com.


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