Special birthday delivery: Philly doctor psyched to be working maternity ward on ‘the mother of all Twosdays’

This date is a palindrome whether you write it U.S. or European style.

birthdaycake
Flickr Creative Commons / Dark Dwarf
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For most people, Tuesday is just a regular day. But Penn Medicine obstetrician Peter Gearhart has been counting down with great anticipation.

He’s working the maternity ward at Pennsylvania Hospital in Center City that day. He already has two Cesarean sections scheduled, and is excited for the little ones who’ll be born on the date.

If you hadn’t clocked it yet: 2/22/22.

“When you have these once-a-century kinds of occurrences,” Gearhart said, “they stand out for people who are a little bit nerdy.”

Numerologically, the date is special for a few reasons. It’s a palindrome date, meaning it can be read the same way forwards and backwards. In this case, it’s true whether you write it U.S. style or European style (22/2/22).

It’s also a repeating pattern, which some call angel numbers. There’s a superstition that they bring good luck — like when you catch a clock at 11:11 or see a license plate with 4747. And you don’t have to believe in magic to tap into the vibes.

“If you see the numbers, it’s your choice, what you choose to do with them,” said Astro, a Philadelphia astrologist. “You can choose to ignore them. You can choose to think about what they mean. You can choose to question the relevance and question what it means to you specifically. It’s up to you.”

Then there’s the serendipitous wordplay. In the year 2022, Gearhart pointed out, Feb. 22 falls on a “Twosday.”

Of an average 9,900 babies born daily in the U.S., about 56 are in Philly, so the two or more tiny Philadelphians Gearhart brings into the world will share a birthday with several other citymates.

Helping people through momentous occasions is one of Gearhart’s favorite things about being a doctor, a career he came late to. He studied engineering at Villanova on a Navy scholarship, and then served as a helicopter pilot for seven years. But his uncle had been a family physician, and during his time in the service, he realized medicine was his calling.

After a year catching up on bio sciences at Dickinson College, he attended Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey as a 30-year-old.

Gearhart picked obstetrics and gynecology because it was the perfect mix of primary care medicine and surgery. And one of the best parts of the job, he said, is when a baby is born. “It’s such a raw, powerful experience.”

For the past couple of months, he’s been trying to get people around him as pumped as he is for 2/22/22.

He’s been sweet-talking staff at the hospital cafeteria, pleading with them to make tacos for an ultimate Taco Tuesday. He’s been asking friends on Facebook to tell him what special plans they might have for the day.

“Everybody looks at me like I’m some sort of nerd or whatever,” Gearhart said. “Nobody seems to be really excited about it.”

He did get a couple of begrudging comments on his Facebook post.

One high school friend who was born is Feb. 22 is celebrating this year with his twin brother, so that’s two 2/22/22 birthdays in one. Another friend who’s a principal at a K-8 school in Baltimore described a whole math curriculum dedicated to the number 2.

Gearhart isn’t letting others ruin his excitement about helping bring babies into the world on that date. He’s one of those doctors who just loves his job.

“Through a lot of different ups and downs, trials and tribulations, normal, exciting, wonderful pieces, and also difficult, sometimes tragic pieces,” Gearhart said, “I get to have that wonderful opportunity to be there with somebody through all of those experiences.”

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