September 29, 2022


At 3:51 in the morning on September 1st, 2022, Andrew and I met our second daughter: Annie Jean Everett. She came into the world quickly and without much time to spare — all 6 pounds and 12 ounces of her. In those quiet early hours of September, Andrew and I began getting to know Annie.

It has been one month since that morning. One month with Annie! One month as a family of four. One month of tiny diapers, tired eyes, oat milk lattes, handwritten cards, sister kisses, nursing sessions, loving visitors, neighborhood walks, and overflowing hearts. As much as I wish that the clock could just stop, Holly taught me that each stage is a gift — to watch your child grow up is one of God’s greatest blessings.

We adore you, sweet Annie. It is a delight to share your story today!

Summer at the Everett’s was go, go, go. Between moving, work, life, and pregnancy, we always had something to do (and a never-ending list of condo projects!). It was a busy time, and such a fun time. We watched Holly with wonder as she became more and more expressive, and we looked ahead with joyful expectation to Annie’s due date, September 6th.

In so many ways, I got to experience pregnancy anew — in ways I didn’t the first time! I was spoiled with surprise baby sprinkles: one by my M&Co. team, one by my Friday morning Bible study group (all moms!), and one by our Monday night couples’ group. These gestures meant the world to me.

Another special difference was that Andrew could accompany me to my appointments at my midwife’s office. To have him next to me as we asked questions, checked on our girl, and prepared for delivery… that made all the difference, and calmed my anxious heart!

As July’s carefree weeks gave way to August’s dog days of summer, Andrew and I watched the calendar. Annie’s due date drew nearer! Of course, those final weeks were not without fear.

I worried about our daughter’s health — what if she has an undetected neural tube defect, like Holly had? I didn’t think I could handle another scare at birth.

I worried about her size. Because Annie measured small my entire pregnancy, my midwife ordered additional growth scans at every major checkpoint — all the way until the end.

I worried about labor. With Holly, I had a seamless induction, so when I couldn’t secure a time slot for Annie, I panicked about what it would be like to go into labor naturally.

Is there such a thing as a pregnancy without fear? I think not. But God, in His marvelous way, answered every one of my prayers…

I stood near the host’s stand at Sapori Trattoria, squeezing my side hard. It was dinnertime on August 30th, and I was picking up pasta takeout for Andrew, Holly, and I. Is this a contraction? I couldn’t tell.

We dined al fresco — it was the nicest night! — and the pains continued. They went on through dinner, through Holly’s bedtime, and through the rest of the evening. Andrew and I double-checked our hospital bag, just in case this was the real deal.

I woke up the next day around five. Crying out, I grabbed my phone and navigated to the timer app. This cramping felt next-level — now, I was certain of what was going on, and I knew I needed to start clocking the contractions.

I spent that morning finding ways to dull the impact of each contraction. They were irregular at best, which frustrated me to no end — my midwife told me not to come in until the contractions were five minutes apart. I gulped down a coffee and a slice of peanut butter toast, texted with friends who thoughtfully checked in on me, and Googled “how long does it take for contractions to get closer together.”

Andrew did everything in his power to console me. He borrowed a yoga ball from our neighbors for me to sit on, helped me through the “Miles Circuit,” ran a warm bath for me, and prayed all the way. The contractions intensified as afternoon became evening, but they still weren’t hitting the golden mark of five minutes apart for one hour long.

After helping me through one particularly bad contraction around midnight, Andrew urged me to call my midwife. I filled her in on what was happening, and she told me to come to the hospital so they could check on me.

Andrew hurriedly called my brother and sister-in-law, who were waiting at their condo in Bucktown to come over and watch Holly. Sam and Nichole arrived in no time, and we were off, pulling into the parking deck a little after one in the morning. We had no idea what to expect — would the hospital send us home if I wasn’t dilated enough?

To our great surprise, I was definitely dilated enough. Our triage nurse had to bring in another nurse for a second opinion, and they both confirmed it: 8.5 centimeters!

The triage team snapped into action, grabbing a wheelchair and rolling me through the lobby of Prentice as Andrew jogged alongside us. I couldn’t stop crying — partly because I was shocked that I was almost fully dilated, and partly because I was so, so scared!

As soon as we got upstairs, I reached for Andrew’s hand. Everything happened fast — one minute, I was pacing our bedroom in anticipation of another wave, and the next, I was ready to meet our daughter.

My midwife and nurse were a dream team. They coached me and reminded me of what I needed to do, and all at once, I heard my daughter’s cries — the sweetest sound in the world. Annie was placed on my chest, and I looked down at her through my tears. Beautiful, perfect, ours!

Those small morning hours on September 1st were so special for Andrew and I. While everyone else (Holly, our parents, my brothers, our friends) slept peacefully in their beds, we spent precious time with Annie in the delivery room. We held her miniature fingers and traced the shape of her lips, simply in awe of her.

There was so much to thank God for:

Our daughter arrived safely, after a labor experience that I hadn’t expected but was able to endure. Prayer answered!

She weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces — just an ounce less than Holly at birth. As it turned out, the growth scans and percentiles were helpful, but they did not tell the whole story. Prayer answered!

Lastly, there were no signs of another defect. Wow. A weight lifted. Prayer answered!

A few weeks have gone by since Annie’s birthday. This time has been sweet, and I have many memories stored up:

  • Bringing Annie home from the hospital and introducing her to Holly. “Bebe! Bebe!” – Holly, on repeat
  • Spending Labor Day weekend at home together as a brand-new family of four.
  • Toasting to our daughter with a glass of champagne!
  • Feeling so loved by our community, between visits from family and friends, text check-ins and prayers, dinners for our family, thoughtful gifts for both Annie and Holly, and heartfelt cards galore.
  • Taking the girls on our first stroll around Lincoln Park with the double buggy!
  • Seeing Holly’s gentleness toward her baby sister — she always wants to hold her and kiss her.
  • Walking to dinner as a family, with Annie in the buggy and Holly holding my hand all the way to the restaurant.
  • And more…

God, I praise you for Annie’s life, and for this time together as a family of four. Thank you for keeping her safe in my womb and bringing her into the world. Thank you for Holly, who keeps us laughing and on our toes. Thank you for Andrew, the leader of our family and great love of my life. Andrew and I are praying this verse over Annie as she grows up and grows in your grace:

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you & asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom & understanding. & we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord & please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance & patience, & joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Colossians 1:9-12