Dad makes catch as Leap Day baby arrives at home

Skylar Tyler is one of the beautiful babies born Feb. 29 who share a special birthday.

At first, Joy Tatum worried her baby would be born on Leap Day. Now, she is just glad she didn’t give birth in a car.

Little Skylar arrived so quickly Monday morning, she was born on the couch at home.

Her dad—a football coach and former quarterback—made the catch.

“My experience definitely came in handy,” Uriel Tyler said. “No fumbles.”

Skylar joined a number of Leap Day lovelies at the Spectrum Health Family Birthplace—beautiful babies who share a once-in-four-years birthday.

Leap Day—Feb. 29—is the day added every four years to keep the calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.

Those born on the date usually celebrate their birthdays on Feb. 28 or March 1 during non-Leap Years. And they get lifelong bragging rights about their youth—a 60-year-old can claim to be just a teenager.

As she cuddled her newborn daughter, Tatum said she decided Leap Day is a great day for a birthday.

“It makes it more special,” she said. “She is unique. So, I’m happy.”

She and Tyler will celebrate Skylar’s birthday on March 1 in non-Leap Years. Skylar has four big brothers who can help with the celebration—J-Vaun, 13, Landon, 10, Ja’Quari, 9, and Jaelen, 6.

Tatum said she is happy her daughter arrived safely, despite the surprisingly quick delivery.

She began having contractions a little after 11 p.m. Sunday night while at her home in Cutlerville, Michigan. When they intensified, it happened so fast she knew she wouldn’t get to the hospital in time.

She called an ambulance and asked Tyler to put a comforter on the couch.

“The baby is coming,” she said.

Skylar arrived at 12:50 a.m., welcomed to the world in her dad’s waiting hands. She weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and had a full head of dark, curly hair.

Tyler coaches football with the nonprofit organization Grand City All Stars and is a former quarterback for Grand Rapids Central High School. But catching Skylar leaves all sports achievements in the dust.

“None of that compares,” he said.

A special birthday

About seven cesarean sections are scheduled on a typical day at the Spectrum Health Family Birthplace.

Only one remained on the schedule Leap Day 2016.

Jennifer and Ross VanWoerkom said Leap Year did not factor into their plans at all when they chose Feb. 29 for their C-section. Their main consideration revolved around finding availability on their doctor’s schedule.

When contractions started four days early, however, Jennifer became almost certain Luke wouldn’t wait for his scheduled arrival. Contractions became stronger on Saturday, and she figured Luke would make his appearance at least by Sunday.

But Luke waited.

“I guess he just wanted to be born on Leap Day,” she said.

Luke entered the world at 7:44 a.m. Monday, weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces. He had reddish brown hair and dark eyes that opened right after birth. When handed to Dad, he gazed up at the lights in the operating room.

The VanWoerkoms, who have a 2-year-old son, Jack, said they plan to let Luke choose the day he celebrates his birthday. They might even celebrate two days—from Feb. 28 to March 1—in years when his birthday is not on the calendar.

“We will have a special birthday every fourth year,” Ross said.

‘That will never happen’

As her son’s due date drew near, Holly Mercer and her husband laughed about the chance they would have a Leap Day baby.

“I said, ‘Oh, that will never happen,’” she recalled. “I always go late.”

She went into labor at 9 a.m. Sunday—two and a half weeks before her March 16 due date.

As labor progressed late into the night, Mercer told her husband, “We are going to have a Leap Year baby.”

And they did. Their son arrived at 1:10 a.m., weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces, with lots of dark brown hair and dark blue eyes.

Holly and Brad Mercer have three older children—Grace, 11, Lauren, 8, and Braden 4.

A few hours after their baby boy’s birth, they had not yet decided on a name. They wanted to get to know him first.

A Leap Day birthday makes their son special, Mercer said.

“We have a healthy baby we are blessed with,” she said. “Whenever we get him—God’s in control of that. And we’ll take it.”

And given the fact that she was in labor for 16 hours, she was delighted with a Feb. 29 birth date.

“I was just hoping it would not be March 1—because I would have to go through another 24 hours of labor,” she said.

Big sister knows best

When Melissa Schiefla found out her due date of March 8, her sister Anne made a prediction.

“She said we are having a girl and she would be born on Leap Year Day,” Schiefla said.

Right on both counts.

Riley Ann’s birth time: 8:04 a.m. Monday, Feb. 29. She weighed in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces, with blondish brown hair and deep blue eyes.

“She looks so tiny,” Schiefla said, as she cuddled her daughter, just two hours old.

She and her husband, Jason, have two older children—Jenny, 6, and Trenton, 4.

Jason, seemed to be pleased with his daughter’s unusual birth date.

“I thought that was something special,” he said.

Read more about the Spectrum Health Family Birthplace.

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