On Christmas morning, something felt off.
Maybe it’s the weather, I reasoned with myself. It was nearly 60 degrees that day — a far cry from a snowy white Christmas.
Or maybe it’s because we aren’t in Hinsdale with my family. My brothers both came down with covid just a few days before the 25th, so we weren’t all together at my parents’ house as planned.
I closed the bathroom door, rifling through the cabinet. We had just one ClearBlue test left.
In the kitchen, I heard Holly babbling to Andrew, and Amy Grant singing in the background. We’d just finished a festive brunch: bubbly mimosas, fresh berries, sausage, runny eggs… all of breakfast’s greatest hits. I sipped my drink without a care, not even thinking I could be pregnant.
I sat in the bathroom for an eternity. When the result came through, I stared hard. It was negative.
But was it?
There was the faintest streak.
“Andrew,” I called. “Will you look at this?”
He, too, stared hard. “It looks negative, Mel. But if you want me to go get more tests, I will.”
My parents buzzed our front door right then, ending our conversation for the time being. They came bearing gifts — for us and for Holly — and we had our own little miniature celebration.
Afterwards, my mom and I were in the bedroom, and I told her about the test.
“Mom,” I whispered. “I think I might be pregnant.”
My mom squealed, her eyes wide. “Can you take another test?”
As soon as my parents left to go back to Hinsdale, Andrew went on a Christmas errand to CVS while Holly and I played in the living room. He quickly returned with a bag of various brands, and I grabbed the one with the pink lines. (Some obsessive Googling had informed me that the pink dye was easier to read and more reliable than the blue.) We returned to the bathroom and waited…
Right there, unmistakably this time, was the second line.
One digital test later, it was confirmed. We were pregnant!
That night was one of my favorites on record. We FaceTimed both sets of grandparents, danced around the house to whimsical carols, and kept saying “I can’t believe it!” to each other. Holly had absolutely zero clue what was going on. Why are my parents acting so crazy?! she probably thought to her tiny self. The three of us took photos together in our matching pajamas, Andrew prepared a legendary meal of Julia Child’s beef bourgeon (no dirty vodka martini for me), and we went to bed with full hearts. All thanks be to God!
December turned into January, and Andrew and I shared our joyous news with a few. We called Courtney, my best friend and the one who took these photos, while we were on a New Year’s Day walk. I told Colleen, our beloved nanny, over breakfast one morning as I overcooked my eggs (goodbye for now, runny eggs). I let my M&Co. girls in on the secret. We confided in our small group from church. We eventually shared with more friends and family.
With Holly, we kept my pregnancy under wraps until I passed the 12-week mark. This time around, we wanted to tell people as we saw them. If anything happened, we would want them to be there for us in prayer.
There were more differences from my first pregnancy:
Physically, I felt sick to my stomach for the entirety of the first trimester, something that I didn’t experience as intensely with Holly. I remember going to the first M&Co. team meeting of 2022 with Preggie Pops tucked in the pocket of my purse. It was a rocky morning, and truly a miracle that I made it through. As my pregnancy progressed, I discovered tips and tricks to help curb my nausea: ginger ale, small and frequent meals, vitamin b6 combined with Unisom, and extra sleep! By 13 weeks, I’d gratefully bounced back to my old self.
My first pregnancy was in 2020, and of course, we all know how that year unfolded. I hit 12 weeks in March 2020, just as Chicago shut down. Oh, I was so afraid. And stir crazy. And lonely! Covid was such an unknown back then. This time around, life feels normal. I’ve gotten to be pregnant and hang out with friends, sing loudly at church, workout at the gym, bop around the city for showings and industry events, attend birthday parties and wedding showers, shop to my heart’s content… It has been the greatest gift.
Perhaps the biggest change of all from my first pregnancy to this one is me. Holly, my sweet Holly, made me a mother. I went from knowing absolutely nothing to slowly learning the ropes of this role. I am definitely overwhelmed at the thought of two, but I know that God has equipped me and Andrew. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been just a little more confident and a little less worried. Emphasis on a little 🙂
Andrew and I came home from our 20-week appointment with an envelope. Inside was our baby’s gender. Everyone, and I mean everyone, thought I was having a boy. (My dad was especially certain.) That night, we would finally find out: boy or girl.
We sent Colleen on a mission to the bakery around the corner. She gamely took the results with her, ready to pick out a gender reveal treat. When Colleen returned with the Sweet Mandy B’s box, she hid it above the fridge. The next few hours were pure agony! Just after five, I told Andrew we had to know right then and there.
For months, I had been praying for a healthy baby, and I’d also been praying for that healthy baby to be a girl. Growing up with two little brothers, I always wondered what it would be like to have a sister. (My mom and Courtney filled that role for me. They feel like my sisters!) Now, as a mom, I longed for Holly to have a sister.
In the kitchen, we handed the box to Holly — she would do the honors. I sat cross-legged on the floor with my hands covering my face and heart beating a million miles an hour. “I can’t look, Andrew.”
He gently guided Holly, and within seconds, the box was open.
“It’s a…” announced Andrew.
I peeked out, only to then scream so loud that Holly burst into tears.
I swept Holly into my arms and cried along with her. Two baby girls, one pink frosted cookie!
I’m 26 weeks along now, on the verge of my third and final trimester. My due date is September 7th, and I am gearing up for another very hot, very pregnant summer.
Sharing this pregnancy online makes it feel even more real: Soon, Andrew and I will be parents of two. What will her personality be like? Will she have blonde curls like Holly, or dark hair like me? Is she going to she love avocados as much as her big sister?
In the moments I feel anxious about bringing another child into the world, I look to Jesus. He created Holly, molded her in my womb, and knew her before we did. He gave Andrew and I endurance during those first few months of parenting our newborn. He protected Holly (and comforted us) when she underwent neurosurgery last June, at just 8 months old.
I know that He is in full control this time, too. He already loves our baby girl and calls her by name.
You are adored, daughter of mine.
Photos by my immensely talented BFF, Courtney Cimo