She was to be born on Thursday, 9:15 am. We had to get to the hospital so early in the morning, I can remember the air being chilled – it was like 6 am, which now seems hilarious that I once thought that was so early. We parked fairly close to the building, the song Anna Begins by the Counting Crows was on the radio as I turned off the car. I stopped my wife in the parking lot to pose in front of the hospital, I do not think she was thrilled, but she smiled as I took my last photo without children. I had a business at the time, my photo lab, so this was the first day in a year I would not be opening the store. Not sure which I was more nerve-wracking for me, that or well the scheduled child. Her name was Madison, we had named her a few month earlier, Madison Grace Rice, we stupidly told everyone. The night before we were at my Grandfather’s wake, the next day I would be at his funeral, this day was all about her. She was a scheduled C-section, breach, so they had called us at the end of August to schedule her birthday. I believe the dates were 9/9, 9/10 and 9/11, they had asked us to choose, we did not. We left to them, it seemed strange to pick a birthday for your kid. Three years later I was relieved it was not the 11th when they told us their pick. We met the nicest nurse, I do not think I ever knew her name once everything was over. She said we were kids when we arrived and chuckled at us. “You won’t be when you leave.” They prepped my wife, took her down the hall, and told me to dress in the fake doctor’s gear, and they would be back for me. They forgot. I heard running and thought there was an emergency and got nervous. Sitting on a bed in scrubs, alone, the nurse barreled into the room, and urgently told me to run down the hall with her, “you’re about to be a Dad. Sorry, we should have gotten you earlier.” I rush in, I see too much before I get behind the curtain with Barbie. Moments later, there is a baby in the room. It is a girl, and she did not cry. We are told she is fine, but no real cry. They hand her to me. I show her to Barbie. She is not a Madison, we both agreed. Anna Begins. Anna is her name. They take her, they take my wife, they send me out the door to greet those waiting for Madison. I stupidly say “There is no Madison” and pause too many beats. Faces change I see concern… “shit, there is an Anna.” They keep the three of us separated too long. My wife is back in the room, and Anna is in the nursery, I am roaming between the two begging that we all be in one room. Seems like forever. We are all joined up, the immediate family meets her. I go to work. I am at work by 11:30 am. I take over my machines, I process the photos of my baby and hang them throughout the store. I head back later. Mother and daughter sleep, a lot. Anna barely cries, but she squeaked, I start to call her squeaker, it will not stick. Random visitors stop by, and the first day ends, the nurse comes back on for a new shift and says we are not kids anymore. A funeral on day two, visitors follow me back to the hospital for meet and greets, I have photos with Anna with some relatives she would never see again. The benefit of death and birth within days. I would trade all those photos of one of her and my Grandfather, but they missed each other by hours. The way it works. Day two afternoon, I get my first real-time alone with her. Mom is asleep, and I have Anna to myself and a Pepsi and a bag of candy, skittles from the vending machine. We talked, she was a good listener. I told her about my grandfather, told her about my business, told her about her mom. I told her she could do anything she wanted to, and be whatever she wanted to be. I had read that it was important to tell her. Her nose is perfect – slightly red, smooth like my candy, I announce to her out loud – to a one-day-old baby, “you are not a squeaker, you have a skittle nose, you are skittle.” You are my Skittle, Happy Adulthood, my Skittle, Thank you for the last 21 years.