Frankie and Lexi Szot, a pair of sophomores at Plano High School, are about to turn 4 after waiting 16 years.
The twins were born on Feb. 29, 2000 – in a leap year. Since a leap year is something that only happens once every four years, they are officially getting ready to celebrate their fourth birthday.
As excited as their mother, Deanne Henle, was to have twins, she was hoping they weren’t going to be born on Feb. 29. The twins, however, had other plans and arrived five weeks earlier than expected.
“I did not want them born on Leap Day because I thought it was a generic birthday. I wanted them to actually have an actual birthday,” said Henle, who has been in Plano with the twins, husband Mark and three other children – Mackenzie, Liam and Olivia – since 2008.
Once Henle realized Feb. 29 was non-negotiable, the next step was making sure both babies were born on the same day. Frankie arrived first at 10:41 p.m. Lexi came 19 minutes later. She missed the twins having separate birthdays by exactly one hour.
“After Frankie, I was exhausted,” Henle said. “The doctor said, ‘If you don’t bear down and start pushing, they were going to have two totally different birthdays.’ I didn’t want that either. I thought it would be confusing if they had different birthdays.”
Fortunately, the twins shared a birthday and were healthy. Frankie measured in at six pounds and 18.5 inches while Lexi was four pounds, 12 ounces and 17 inches long.
According to leapyearday.com, the chance of being born on Leap Day is 1 in 1,461. There are approximately five million people in the world and 200,000 in the United States born on Feb. 29. The odds of having identical twins, however, born on this day are 1 in 500,000. There are currently 1.5 million sets of twins who were born on Leap Day.
By the time the twins were about to celebrate their first birthday, Henle wasn’t exactly sure at first how it was supposed to be done. She eventually thought it would be best to celebrate it on two different days – Feb. 28 and March 1. That’s how it was done for every non-leap year.
“I felt like I was cheating out of a day that might have been theirs, so that’s how it’s been,” Henle said.
In the years where the twins’ birthday was actually on the calendar, however, the celebrations the family had were much bigger. When they turned 4 – or 1, depending on how one looks at it – it was a big deal. In 2008, when they turned 8 (or 2 years old), it was a bigger deal. By the time the duo turned 12 (or 3), it was a huge event.
“They had big parties. We rented the pool house and it was a bash, especially for the 12th one because more people understood it,” Henle said.
Frankie – the more outgoing and social of the two – and Lexi – the shy and more reserve twin – said they did not quite understand the concept of being born on Leap Day until they were about 8 years old.
“I remember realizing it because I had to explain it to all my classmates,” Frankie said. “I was up in front of the classroom, explaining it to everyone – it was rocket science to them. Everyone was late leaving school because I was there so late trying to explain it to everybody. No one understood. People still question it. People don’t even believe it at first. They find it unbelievable.”
“I remember having to explain it to a lot of people,” Lexi added. “There were a lot of questions.”
The question now is how will the twins celebrate their birthday this year. Since 2016 is a leap year, the duo will be turning 16 (or 4) on Monday. As of a week or so before their birthday, they did not have any big plans for a huge party.
Henle mentioned celebrating with family. She’s a little nervous having twice the amount of teenagers around in one house for one big party. Frankie said he’s not too worried about it. Lexi plays saxophone in the Plano High School pep band, and on Feb. 29, she has an event with her bandmates.
After initially not liking the twins born on Leap Day, Henle’s mind has certainly changed over the years, especially since they’ve gotten older and understand it better themselves.
“Now, I think it’s awesome. It’s always a conversation starter,” Henle said. “When people started asking, ‘So when do you celebrate? How do you do that? Is there a national rule?’ I started to realize there weren’t very many people with that birthday.”
“I think it’s astonishing,” Lexi added. “What are the odds? My friends tell me, ‘You are rare, Lexi.’ They joke about it. ‘You are a twin and you were born on a leap year.’”