PARENTS

I'm Sorry For Giving You A Rubbish Birth Date

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

I'm sorry for giving you a rubbish birth date

Every time I tell someone my son's birth date they look at me with a mixture of pity and horror. He was born on 11th September, 2011 – the 10th anniversary of the American terrorist attacks. Not that I need to explain what the day signifies; there's no other date in the calendar that conjures up so much purely with three digits.

I know it sounds terrible but I spent my entire pregnancy hoping my second baby wouldn't be born on such an ominous date. My due date was 12th September and as my daughter arrived one day before her due date I knew it was a strong possibility again.

When my contractions started at tea time on 8th September I felt a sense of relief. But they continued and continued until our baby boy eventually made an appearance at lunch time on the 11th. At that point, I was so thankful he was finally here, not to mention exhausted, that I forgot about the date.

It wasn't long though before I started having to tell the date to doctors, health visitors, other mums at playgroups and random little old ladies who stop you in the street to look at your newborn.

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People always feel so sorry for him – and, even though there was nothing I could do to change the day he entered the world - I feel guilty too. I dread the day he realises that his most special day is infamous for such a devastating set of events.

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Mum-of-two Amanda shares my guilt. Her son was born on 31st October and her daughter on 14th February.

"Valentine's Day isn't quite so bad but Halloween has all sorts of associations with witches and devils," she says.

"It's a bit of a pain with birthday parties because all his friends usually have Halloween parties lined up, so we end up going for a different day. When my daughter grows up I worry that her friends will be out on romantic dates and not want to celebrate with her. At least she'll always get post on Valentine's Day though!"

Victoria went into labour with her second daughter on her first daughter's birthday. "I managed to hold on through her party," she says. "But they now share the same birthday, two years apart."

She admits it's caused endless discussions with her family as to when and how they should celebrate – a joint party with the girls having to compromise on what they do; two different parties on the same day; each daughter taking it in turns to celebrate on another day.

"It's not so bad while they are young but I do worry about how it will affect them as they get older," she says.

Kelly admits she feels guilty that her one-year-old son, who was born on Christmas Eve, doesn't have his own special day like everyone else.

"I had a tea party for him but a few people couldn't make it as they had Christmas visiting to do so he may miss out on friends coming to parties in the future," she says.

She also worries that his birthday parties will be used as a present exchange day for family and friends who won't see each other on Christmas Day. "No one else gets presents on my birthday so why should they on his?" she questions.

Mum-of-two Clare has 'mixed feelings' about her five-year-old son's Christmas Day birthday. His arrival was 'the best present ever' but she feels bad that his birthday gets lost in the festivities. She and her husband have tried different ways to make it special for him, including having a party a month before, and celebrating Christmas in the morning and his birthday in the afternoon.

"I think this was the first birthday that he understood what it meant to have a birthday on Christmas Day," she says sadly.

Mum-of-two Sarah also feels guilty about her three-year-old son's 6th January birthday. After the chaos of Christmas, she always ends up planning his party in a rush, while the whole nation is on a New Year's detox. "No one is really in a birthday party mood and all the adults moan at the (unhealthy, naturally!) party food," she says. "Poor thing."

And let's not forget Leap Year babies, whose arrival on 29th February means they will only ever get to celebrate their actual birthday ever four years; April Fool's Day babies like my cousin Mark, who has faced a lifetime of poor jokes at his expense; or those born at the end of August, who miss out by mere days, hours or even minutes on being the eldest in the school year and all the academic and sporting advantages that is perceived to bring.

Dr Angharad Rudkin, a chartered clinical psychologist and mother herself, reassures mums that we shouldn't worry. "There is no evidence that having a birthday on a certain day can disadvantage a child," she says.

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Often it is the parent who worries more about the date of birth than the child. After all, the child has never known any different, and just enjoys having a birthday whenever it is.

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My friend Rosalind, whose birthday is on 11th September, has some sound advice too. She takes the matter into her own hands before other people can comment. "When anyone asks when my birthday is, I always say 9/11 rather than 11th September and add a comment about it not being a great day for a celebration. But at least people remember it," she says.

I'll be hoping my son takes a leaf out of her book when he is older. In the meantime, my husband has come up with our party line: "On a day that resulted in so much tragedy for so many we are lucky to have something so wonderful to celebrate."

As cheesy as it sounds, he couldn't be more right.

More on Parentdish: My leap year twins

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