Kind of interesting knowing with dead certainty where one was 21 years ago: I was sleeping on the floor of a Fairfax Hospital room next to Anita (well, trying to sleep, in between being stepped on by nurses). Anita was "being induced"—forced to go into labor—but it wasn't working.
I remember figuring out that the machine monitoring her was networked, and so I could switch it to view the other patients in nearby rooms (something I suspect HIPAA regulations would frown on nowadays). So when she would have a contraction, I could show her that it was very minor compared to other patients'. Not sure she really appreciated knowing that.
When we left the hospital with Katie, Anita was in an entirely normal paranoid-new-mother mode: if a car came within 50 feet of ours, she would alert me, just in case I had somehow managed to miss it. And of course there had to be a tractor-trailer jackknifed on the Beltway! Fortunately it was just after the I-66 exit, and I managed to get over and take 66, instead of the Toll Road, as I had planned. So we made it home safely.
Then we both have very distinct memories of putting our wee bairn in the bassinet, looking at each other, and asking, "So what the heck do we do now?"
But, as with every generation before, we figured it out.
The company I was working for at the time had a sabbatical program, and I was eligible. This meant that I got to take four weeks off with pay. My month started December 6, 1991, and it was a truly magical time. I know that in some other countries, paternity leave is the norm; in some, it's not only allowed, but required, thus avoiding the "Well, you know, I really would love to, but I feel like the office will frown on it". This is a good thing; the US should be so enlightened.
And now, 21 years later, our girl would have been able to drink legally. She would have voted in her first presidential election last month (and those who knew her know who she would have voted for, no question!). She would be in her third year of university, perhaps considering graduate school. We'd have been planning a bash for tonight.
Happy Birthday, my peanut girl.
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.
– Robert Munsch