‘Such a blessing’: Saskatchewan family welcomes quadruplets on leap year

Submitted photos. A birthday on Feb. 29 is rare enough, but on the leap year day in 2024, mother Savannah Ratt and father Gilbert Merasty welcomed a set of quadruplets into the world in Saskatoon: (clockwise, from top left) Aleah Merasty, Beautiful Merasty, Dominick Merasty and Cecilia Merasty.

Bryn Levy, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

A Saskatchewan couple is celebrating an extremely rare set of births on a particularly rare day.

“It’s just such a blessing, we still can’t believe it’s true. It just feels like a dream,” Savannah Ratt said of delivering quadruplets on Feb. 29.

The four babies — Aleah, Beautiful, Cecilia and Dominick Merasty — are all doing well, and recovering in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

Ratt and partner Gilbert Merasty live in La Ronge, about 375 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

She admits she was “freaking out” a bit when she first learned she was pregnant at about 14 weeks, and saw the results of an emergency ultrasound.

“They found two heads, and then three and they said there could possibly be four,” she said.

Babies arrived prematurely

Ratt was then sent to Saskatoon to continue her pregnancy nearer to the facilities at the JPCH.

Ratt said she “could barely walk” during her pregnancy and that it was nearly impossible to find any way to lie down comfortably. Despite the difficulties, she said the time passed quickly.

“I felt like I was pregnant for, like, two months,” she said.

The babies arrived prematurely on Feb. 29, after a little over 27 weeks. Dominick, the lone boy amongst the three girls, was the last to be born.

“So, he was a little gentleman and let all the girls go first,” Ratt said with a laugh.

While Ratt is staying in Saskatoon to be with the little ones as they gain strength in the neonatal intensive care unit, she said her family is “overwhelmed and happy” at the prospect of welcoming the little ones home. The quadruplets will join a bustling family, with five other siblings already here. Ratt said all the kids are excited with the new arrivals.

Quads, leap year birthdays rare

Both leap year birthdays and quadruplets are rare in Canada.

Statistics Canada in 2020 reported that there were only about 25,000 people living in Canada born on Feb. 29, or roughly 0.07 per cent of the country’s population.

While there’s no specific data on how many of these people are twins, triplets or quadruplets, StatsCan data shows there were just over 350,000 live births in Canada in 2022, with just under 11,000 of these being multiple births, or 0.03 per cent.

Quadruplets are even rarer still, with StatsCan data showing that some 97 per cent of multiple births are twins.

Multiple births also come with a higher risk of complications; about 60 per cent are born pre-term, or before 37 weeks.

While her kids will come home to a loving family, Ratt said the quick turnaround from learning she was having quadruplets to welcoming them into the world has left very little time to prepare. The family has launched a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help them get set up with supplies.