Andrew and I were married on December 8th, 2018 — exactly two years ago. We spent a few dreamy (and emotional!) days in Palm Beach with our parents, my brothers, his grandmother, and my best friend as my maid-of-honor. My dad officiated our ceremony in a hotel suite, glowing with candles and overflowing with love.
Our first year of marriage was the best year of my life. It really, truly was. I will forever savor my memories of our dinner dates, weekend trips, evenings cozied up at home, holidays as husband-and-wife, and plenty of ordinary moments. Our best-friendship grew and grew over the course of those twelve months.
Now, I’m looking back on twelve more months with Andrew:
In December, we celebrated our first anniversary at home in Lincoln Park (back when staying in was just an excuse to escape the real world for a night!). Andrew cooked a fancy dinner featuring a roasted rack of lamb; I set the dining room table and lit the candelabra. We clinked our glasses together on that evening, the 8th of December, counting our blessings and looking forward to all that was ahead.
In January, we flew back to Chicago after a whirlwind New Year’s trip to Hartwell (where Andrew’s parents live) and Charleston. The 19th is a day I won’t ever forget. It was a Sunday morning, and we were driving in circles around Clark and Webster, where our church meets. We couldn’t find a parking spot, so we threw in the towel and decided to go out for breakfast instead. Andrew read Romans aloud over steaming cups of coffee at Pierrot Gourmet. I felt a little funny, but waved it off as nothing. I’m just tired, I thought. That night was the night I found out I was pregnant. We had been praying for a baby since the summer, and so when we got that positive test, we cried and hugged and danced in our bathroom.
In February, we navigated through the ups and downs of my first trimester. Andrew’s work responsibilities ramped up, and so did mine — I was constantly running all across the city (the real estate market always gets crazy right around Super Bowl Sunday). I remember teaching my last in-person So You Want to Buy a Condo seminar at my office: nauseous, nervous, and not feeling like myself! Andrew was traveling for work that week — he prayed with me over the phone.
In March, we celebrated Andrew’s 31st birthday in New York City. Admittedly, the trip started off a bit rocky. I was just about 12 weeks along by then and hormonal as ever. But I pulled myself together, and we enjoyed a sunny early-spring weekend of walking, eating, drinking (…water for me), and shopping. Little did we know that it would be our last time dining in a packed, fully-booked restaurant for quite a long while!
In April, we adjusted to a new rhythm. Andrew worked from home and I stopped going out on showings. We turned our living room into a makeshift gym, ordered all of our groceries for delivery, and went for exactly one walk a day. My anxiety kept me up at all hours, worrying about my parents and Andrew’s parents and the world and our pregnancy. Andrew, the strongest person I know, constantly reminded me Who was in control.
In May, we spent two-and-a-half weeks with my family in Hinsdale. Andrew set up his computer in the dining room, my brother Sam worked in the basement, my brother Jack studied in his bedroom, my dad converted the garage into his new office, my mom taught her weekly Bible study from her bedroom, and I usually found myself at the kitchen table or on the couch. Those days were some of the sweetest: I felt like a little girl again with my whole family together under one roof. But now, with a husband and growing baby (we felt her kicking for the first time while we were there!).
In June, the city began to open up. Andrew was still working entirely from home, but I gained the courage to take clients out again. We went on our first date since the shutdown — to our favorite place, Old Pueblo — and reconnected with our friends. Our Bible study (all married couples!) started meeting in Oz Park every Monday night. It seemed as if the new season had ushered in a bit of normalcy — both of us breathed a sigh of relief.
In July, I turned 27! We dressed up and drove downtown to Maple & Ash — it was a sweltering midsummer night, and the Gold Coast was alive with people dining outdoors and strolling the streets. Andrew and I sat beneath twinkle lights, ordered crab (for me) and steak (for him), and talked all night. It was a magical, memorable birthday date. We went on as many adventures as possible throughout the month: to swim at the beach in Evanston, to drive around various suburbs and drool over stunning houses, to try the new trendy donut place on our block, to Home Depot… and still, we walked around our neighborhood every single day.
In August, my mom threw us a perfectly miniature baby shower with just our family — Andrew’s mom FaceTimed us, too. I forced Andrew to take a hundred pictures, and he begrudgingly obliged. After the party ended, we laid in bed together with a plate of two giant cake slices and sugar cookies. Andrew held his hand on my tummy as our baby moved all around.
In September, we went on our last dinner date (back to Old Pueblo!) after spending the summer eating outside at Gemini, Tarantino’s, Homeslice, Avli, Ralph Lauren, Club Lucky, Siena Tavern, Willow Room. We walked down our block to the restaurant, hand-in-hand. My due date was September 25th, and we knew our days of “just us” were numbered. I wanted more time with Andrew. I loved our baby, but I didn’t know her yet. Andrew, however, I knew better than anyone. My husband, best friend, love of my life. On the morning of the 25th, with no signs of labor, we sat on the steps right off Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive to watch the sunrise.
In October, our lives changed forever. I know how cliche that saying is, but it’s true! It’s truly true. Holly Grace Everett, our blue-eyed baby girl, was born on the 3rd. The next morning, while Holly slept in the bassinet beside my hospital bed, Andrew and I exchanged cards to one another. His note to me started like this: “My dearest Melanie, Wow is all I can say. You did it. We did it. No… you def did it — with Jesus holding your hand the whole way through.” And continued with: “I’m so proud to be your husband, encourager, and now co-parent alongside you. With the two of us united in Christ, I know we can (and will) confidently lean on Him to help us raise our family.” I weeped — somehow, I still had tears left in me!
In November, we learned more and more about Holly: her favorite time of day (waking up in the morning), her love of baths in her plastic pink tub, her sweet little sighs and different types of cries, her disdain for getting dressed (she hates it when we have to pull the onesie up above her head!). We fell apart over her first real smiles, we cuddled with her in bed, we took way too many photos. As I continued to recover from labor, Andrew served his family with an unbelievable amount of love and selflessness. He somehow managed to work full-time from home, change hundreds of diapers, clean the condo, make sure I took the right medicine, study a book on baby sleep, cook plenty of healthy dinners. I felt — and still feel — so, so cared for. I know Holly would write the same thing, if she could. (In fact, I can hear him singing to her in the nursery over the monitor as I type this.)
In December, we are reveling in this Christmas season as a family of three. Tonight is the 8th — our anniversary — and we have a reservation downtown at RPM Seafood. It’ll be our first night out since Holly was born (thank you to my parents for babysitting!). I can’t wait to sit across from my husband and thank him for loving me, for praying with me, for leading our family with Christ at the head, for complimenting me when I feel like a postpartum mess, for supporting my business wholeheartedly, for making me laugh and making Holly smile, for so many more things.
Happy second anniversary, Andrew. I love you to Heaven and back.