What a year. For many, 2020 will be viewed with negative thoughts and feelings. For many, 2020 was filled with fear, disappointment, and sadness. People missed out on seeing their friends, visiting family for the holidays, going to the movies, and even enjoying a lovely dinner out with their spouse. No one knows how much longer we must live in isolation, with a sense of dread hanging over our heads. We haven’t seen the sincere smile of a stranger since March, as we’ve spent the last 9 months hidden beneath masks or behind closed doors. For many, 2020 could not be over sooner.

For Matt and I, 2020 brought us our first child, a curious and independent baby boy. It goes without saying I’m sure, but I never planned to have a baby during a pandemic. I imagined strangers commenting on my growing bump, laughing with family and friends at baby showers, and welcoming my parents and in-laws to the hospital to proudly meet their first grandchild. We expected to bring our sweet boy to meet family in California or along to dinner with friends. We hoped for playdates with my dear friend’s baby boy who was born in March. I even dreamed of Matt and I walking the aisles at Target picking out Christmas presents together, commenting on how much fun the baby toys were and how excited we were to wrap them.

Instead, Matt and I spent the last two months of my pregnancy in seclusion, praying we did not catch COVID. We spent four days at the hospital during my induction and birth, and no one visited. When Luke was admitted to Masonic Children’s Hospital, Matt went with him the first night, while I stayed home alone, fearing that if I saw family or friends I could bring the infection to the hospital. After we brought him home, no one held him but Matt and I for the first month. We had no professional photos taken. Friends and family did not come over. We made no travel plans. Other than our parents, our family has not met Luke. We did not peruse the toy aisles to pick out presents.

All that said, Luke has been the greatest joy. While for most, 2020 will invoke feelings of grief and anxiety, it was the best year of my life. I could not imagine waiting a second longer to meet our sweet little boy. Not only was this the year Luke was born, but it was the year he learned to smile, the year he began giving us kisses, and the year he started reaching for us to hold him. It was the year Luke started babbling, the year he discovered how to army crawl, and the year he tasted ice cream. Every morning when Luke gives us a big gummy smile, I am filled with love. I hope that in the next months or years, Luke is able to share his smile and love with more people.

So tonight, when most of the world will be wishing 2020 “good riddance,” I will think of the year with love and delight. It wasn’t perfect, and it certainly brought its challenges for us and the rest of the world. But it also brought Matt and me the sweetest blessing we could have ever hoped for. I will forever be thankful for this year and all the wonderful memories.

Thank you, Sweet Boy, for making your dad and me parents this year.

Love, Mom

We Have a Two-Month-Old!

Luke is two months old! I am sure the parents reading this will understand me when I say parenthood is an absolute treasure, and it’s really something you only truly understand after you have kids. The first two months have flown by and our little baby has already grown so much! Thanks, Matt, for putting together this cute little video of our memories with Luke so far.

Luke’s Two-Month Updates:

  • He loves to smile at Mom and Dad in the mornings;
  • He now wants to explore his world more – he likes to be carried around the house rather than laying in someone’s arms;
  • He has accepted that diaper changes are a part of life, but now cries when the bottle of milk empties or when Mom and Dad take a break to burp him;
  • He still wakes up every 2-3 hours throughout the night. His new thing is being super smiley during his 3:00 am feeding. I tell him,”if you are smiling you aren’t tired enough”;
  • He can still roll from tummy to back and is working on rolling from back to tummy; and
  • He likes going for drives and staring out of the window or sunroof.

Two Months with MCADD

For those of you who read our previous posts, you know that Luke was diagnosed with MCADD on his newborn screening test. This means he cannot fast for more than 3.5 hours right now because he cannot break down a certain type of fat for energy. If he doesn’t eat on this schedule, he can go into metabolic shock. Scary consequences for something that seems so simple.

So far, Luke’s MCADD has been extremely manageable. Matt made a spreadsheet that we use to track all of Luke’s feedings so that we always know the latest time we have to feed. This means if we are driving or out and about when this time occurs, we have to pull over or stop what we are doing, even if Luke does not appear hungry, to feed him. If Luke is too sleepy, we have to resort to extreme measures to make sure he eats – such as starting with a diaper change, undressing him, or blowing cold air on him. It sounds harsh, but if Luke doesn’t eat on his schedule that means an immediate trip to the Emergency Room. Thankfully, we have not had any issues and the little guy loves his milk.

Car feeding.

Luke’s schedule unfortunately also means we will not be sleeping through the night anytime soon. Matt and I are pretty good with trading off throughout the night, but most nights Luke wants to eat even more than every three hours. Needless to say, there are some sleepy mornings around here, but we’re happy to do it for our sweet little boy.

Mom and Luke.

Matt and I are also fortunate to be working with a specialist team from the University of Minnesota that is familiar with children that have MCADD. We have a follow-up appointment later this week and will discuss whether Luke’s fasting window can increase and resources for when Luke goes to daycare in the fall. Like I said, so far things have been manageable so we hope they continue on that path!

Luke in the Great Outdoors

Because of COVID, we have not had the opportunity to do too much publicly with Luke but he did get to try out his first swim and boat ride last month! Luke did not love the cool (82 degrees) pool water at first but warmed up to it after we swam around with him a little. Dad also dunked him under the water (after blowing in his face to get him to hold his breath) and he handled it very well.

Swimming with Luke.

To celebrate the Fourth, we went out on a boat with Matt’s family on the St. Croix River. Luke was a trooper in his life jacket for a few hours and seemed to love the breeze on his face and rocking of the boat.

Luke’s first boat ride.

When we aren’t on the water, we take Luke for walks to Afton State Park or around the neighborhood. He will also sit by us if we have a fire in the backyard. He likes to get outside and is pretty content as we walk around. He has also met the neighbors who say they are excited to have a little baby in the neighborhood since most of the families around us have teenage kids.

Dad and Luke.

Day to Day with Luke

Matt went back to work at the beginning of July which means Luke and I get to spend a lot of time together. Again, because of COVID, this means most of our time is spent at home. Being with Luke all day has been such a joy because I really get to see real-time of his little developments, from learning how to smile, to grabbing his toys and rolling over. Some of the things Luke likes doing at home include:

  • Waking Mom up at 6:00 a.m. with big smiles;
  • Listening to Mom sing Taylor Swift, Waylon Jennings, and Christmas songs (for some reason I am not up to date on my lullabies);
  • Playing on his play mat and (maybe intentionally) hitting the hanging animals;
  • Napping on Mom and Dad;
  • Crying so that Mom and Dad walk him around the house and show him things and let him look out the windows;
  • Staring at the ceiling fans and stair railing;
  • Taking warm baths; and
  • Hanging out in his swing.
After a bath.

We also go for car rides (we don’t have many errands to run) and visited Dad at work last week (in the parking lot). Last weekend Luke also watched his first Formula 1 race with us and we think go-karts may be in his future.

I am lucky enough to not go back to work until this fall and I have been cherishing every moment with our little man. Being a parent has already become such a big part of who I am and I am so proud to be Luke’s mom. I love watching him grow and learn and while I don’t want him to grow up so fast I also can’t wait to see the next thing he will learn or do.

For those of you that just read to see cute baby pictures, here is our Luke!

Smiling at Mom.
On our daily walk.
Napping with Dad.
Going to visit Dad at work.


Luke’s Birth Story

Today Luke is one month old! Time really does fly. Since we skipped ahead and did a post about Luke’s hospitalization and MCADD diagnosis before sharing his birth story, I thought this would be a good time to share his story. I am not sure how many people actually read this blog, but Matt and I have enjoyed writing down various events as a way for us to remember.

The Induction

I was induced for Luke’s birth for two reasons. First, there is recent research about how inductions at 39 weeks, as opposed to waiting to go into “natural” labor, have more favorable outcomes for baby and mom – less risk of c-section and other complications. Second, the hospital recommended inductions for women in light of COVID to ensure a scheduled room and availability of a medical team. An induction also meant no back and forth to the hospital – we would check-in and not have to check out until after the birth. Before the induction, I had been having a few days of near-constant Braxton Hicks contractions so I was optimistic that baby wanted to be born soon!

At 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2020, Matt and I parked the car at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury. I was 39 weeks and 3 days along. We double-checked that we had everything, as Matt would not be allowed to leave the room–let alone the hospital–while we were there (due to COVID). When we walked inside the hospital, we were screened for COVID symptoms and given masks that we had to wear inside the hospital. Then we walked up to the second-floor labor and delivery unit and were shown to our room.

Last picture before the hospital!

In the room, I was allowed to take my mask off, but the nurse instructed Matt that he needed to keep his on at all times while anyone other than me was in the room. We also were told we weren’t allowed to leave the room (even to go in the hallway) and there would be no visitors allowed. This meant if we wanted a glass of water or coffee we had to page a nurse to get it for us. Finally, the nurses would take Matt’s temperature regularly and if he spiked a temp he would have to leave.

Settling in.

The nurse had me get into a gown and shortly after we arrived we started the induction process. The plan was to start with an oral pill overnight and then start a Pitocin drip in the morning. The pill was to help make induction more favorable before starting contractions.

To pass the time, Matt had given me a “push present” the day before — a Nintendo Switch! This meant I could play some games as we settled in for what I planned on being a 24-48 hour process. The evening was largely uneventful.

Almost a dad.
Playing my Switch!

The next morning (May 12) we started a Pitocin drip around 11:00 a.m. Throughout the afternoon I had very mild contractions but labor did not progress very much. Therefore, around 4:00 p.m., our doctor stopped by to discuss options. We could go another hour on Pitocin, then either try another induction method (foley bulb) or she could break my water. I remember being a bit afraid that the doctor would rule it a “failed induction” and send me home to go into labor on my own, but she assured me that was not going to happen.

In the next hour, contractions finally started picking up, so at 5:00 p.m. the doctor broke my water. The next contraction was absolutely excruciating – I had planned on ultimately having an epidural but wanted to wait a bit to help labor progress, but I knew immediately I would not be able to wait. After the next contraction, I told the doctor and nurse I needed an epidural so they could start the process right away (they have to draw labs, call the doctor, etc.). I continued to labor for approximately two hours and was in absolute agony – due to the Pitocin, my contractions were practically on top of each other so I had no relief. Finally, the epidural was placed around 7:00 p.m. I was somewhat dilated at this time but we fully expected labor to last all night.

The Final Push

At 9:00 p.m., two nurses came into the room for a cervix check. One was a trainee who asked if she could also feel my cervix to learn, so she went first. As she was feeling around, she told the other nurse she wasn’t sure if she was doing it right because she didn’t feel the cervix–only the baby. The other nurse then checked as well and it turned out I was fully dilated! This meant push time was now. The nurse called the doctor who arrived around 9:45 p.m.

Picture taken right before we started pushing (note the clock in the back).

Now I started the pushing game. Most of us in the room assumed I would have the baby on May 12 (that same day), even if it took two hours to push (which would be a long time). How wrong we all were! Midnight passed and still no baby. I asked the doctor a few times if she was going to suggest a c-section since things were taking so long, but she explained that we were making good progress and the baby had been doing great with no heart rate decelerations so there was no reason for a c-section yet. After the birth, the OB told me she thought the baby was at the top end of what my pelvis could reasonably birth, which meant my 39 week induction was a great call. Any bigger and we would have been looking at a c-section for sure.

I continued to push for two more hours (yes that is four hours total!). Near the end, I certainly felt like I could not possibly do one more push, but we kept at it. Matt was the best support system and was part of the reason I was able to keep going and stay positive. Finally, Baby ended up being born in one final push–there was no stopping at the shoulders. Dad describes the birth as Baby “shooting out” into the doctor’s arms.

The next thing I knew, the doctor yelled, “And here’s your baby!” and placed Baby on my chest, who cried loud and hard immediately! At that moment, Matt announced the gender to the room. “It’s a boy!” We already had names picked out so I told Matt to tell the room what his name was and he shouted “Luke Matthew!” as he stood next to me beaming down at our son. Matt also got to cut the cord. We were both so happy. Luke was born at 1:58 a.m. on May 13, 2020.

After the Birth

Unfortunately, our happy emotions lasted only another minute or two. Although I was not entirely sure about what was going on, I overheard a nurse and my doctor discussing my placenta, and it appeared that some of it was still in my uterus causing major bleeding (I later learned this is referred to as a retained placenta). I also started to feel queasy due to loss of blood, and I remember telling a nurse that Luke “needed to go to his daddy” because it became clear to me I was not going to be able to safely hold him. The nurse grabbed him and handed him to Matt who sat on the couch with our son.

When my doctor realized the bleeding was not stopping, the room jumped into action. They placed an IV in my right hand (my left hand already had an IV) and pushed some medications immediately. From a combination of blood loss and drugs, I started to lose consciousness. I overheard a few things that I can recall:

  • “Do we need to get an OR?”
  • “She has an allergy bracelet – what is she allergic to?”
  • “She has an allergy bracelet – what is she allergic to?”
  • “Call the on-call OB.”

One of the last things I remember was looking over at Matt and Luke, who were sitting together on the couch. Matt was feeding Luke formula and Luke was all bundled up. I thought “what a nice view – my little family” and drifted off to sleep.

Because I was unconscious, I don’t really know what happened next except for what Matt told me. They weighed and measured Luke while I was out. He was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and 21 inches long. I was also 8 pounds, 9 ounces at birth! While I’m sad I missed some first moments with Luke, I know he was in good hands with his dad.

Because I don’t have much of a memory regarding what happened during the next two hours, Matt wrote the next section of this post from his point of view.

The Hemorrhage (section written by Matt)

Luke’s cry permeated the air almost instantly after he was born. So quickly so I didn’t even have time to worry that he was okay.

“It’s a boy!” I announced to the room as one of the nurses passed him to Kristin. I looked at my new little boy laying on Kristin’s chest. What a sight. I was astonished, overjoyed, overwhelmed. Our OB handed me a set of scissors and I cut the cord.

The OB had known the whole time I had been curious about the process and asked me if I’d like to come take a look as she delivered the placenta. It came out easily and in one piece, which is what you hope for. As she continued to talk through what she was doing a voice spoke up above the rest.

“Doctor?” the nurse standing over the placenta uttered.

“Yes” the doctor said as she wheeled around.

“The placenta looks a little thin in this area”.

I walked over to the table and on the side of the placenta that attaches to the uterine wall there was a 2×2 chunk that was extremely thin. I heard Kristin say Dad needed to take the baby and I went over to her bedside and picked up Luke. I sat down on the couch in a place where I could still see everything that was going on. My little boy stared up at me with wide open eye’s. A nurse handed me a formula bottle and he eagerly started eating.

As I looked up at the room again there had been a palpable change in mood as I heard the OB talk about “retained placenta”. What was originally four people in the room had turned into ten. Our OB remained extremely calm as she rattled off medications/orders to the nurses who quickly began to look overwhelmed. They started another IV, gave Kristin several shots, and rattled off vital signs every minute or so. I could see a steady stream of blood continuing to trickle out of Kristin as the OB pulled small pieces of placenta out. A plastic bag was attached to the base of the bed that was catching all the blood, it was looking more and more full. Our OB asked the hospital OB to be paged who showed up and started to assist her in extracting the retained placenta. A nurse asked if we needed an OR. The things I was hearing didn’t sound good.

I started to feel numb. Blood was everywhere, on the floor, the bed, the sides of cabinets, on people. I wanted to ask what was going on but everyone was extremely busy and I didn’t want to distract anyone. I was sitting six feet from my wife holding our brand new son as I watched all of this. I’m not scared of much but I was fucking terrified this entire time. The prospect of losing my wife on the same day my son was born was the unimaginable, yet it felt like I might be watching it happen. Things continued like this for about two hours. Eventually, they got all of the placenta out and were able to stop the bleeding. The OB held up the bag of blood and measured it to be 2 liters, 1/3 of Kristin’s blood volume.

At some point I thought to snap a picture of how much blood Kristin had lost so far

Around 4:00 a.m., the last person left the room and it got eerily quiet. Kristin was still unconscious and Luke was asleep in my arms. I didn’t really know what had happened and couldn’t really process anything until I did, so I had a nurse page our OB back to the room. I told her I was sorry and that I’m sure she was tired but I just need a quick explanation of what happened.

She explained that Kristin had a postpartum hemorrhage. Although it wasn’t immediately obvious, part of the placenta tore off when it was being removed. The placenta is full of blood vessels that connect to the mother’s body at the uterine wall. If pieces of it remain those blood vessels won’t clot and allow blood to continue to flow into the uterus. This will eventually kill you from blood loss and is the leading cause of maternal morbidity in the United States. Once she and the other OB that she paged removed the remaining pieces of placenta, they were able to get the bleeding to stop. Since she had lost 2 liters of blood the plan was to test her hemoglobin now and again at 0800 to see if she would need a blood transfusion and if so how much.

I thanked her and she left. Looking at the clock it was almost 5AM. I fed Luke and put him down so I could catch an hour of sleep.

The Morning (rest of blog authored by Kristin)

After the events of the evening (which actually continued until 4:00 a.m.), I woke up in our hospital room with a baby bassinet beside me and Matt fast asleep on the couch. There was a baby bundled up in a cream-colored swaddle in the bassinet. He made small little cooing sounds as he slept and I longed to hold him. Unfortunately, I was far too weak and could barely move due to blood loss. I knew holding him was not safe at that moment, so I slowly rocked his bassinet back and forth while lying in my bed. I could not believe that I had a baby.

Baby Luke.

Around 8:00 a.m., the nurses came in and told us they were moving us to a different room. They transported me in the bed as I could not walk, and Matt stayed to pack up the room and walk over with Luke in the bassinet. When we got to the new room, I finally held my baby. I am sure that everyone thinks their baby is the cutest newborn ever, but I think that is objectively true with Luke.

Because I had lost so much blood, I ended up getting two separate blood transfusions while in the hospital. After each one I felt much better and was slowly getting my strength back.

One of the interesting things about the hospital was that Luke did not go to the nursery. Instead, he stayed with us, which is a practice referred to as “rooming in.” This meant Matt got the hang of changing diapers at the hospital really fast and we go to spend a lot of time with our brand new baby. He kept us up almost all night the second night, but I am thankful for the time we spent together in the hospital because little did we know we would not get to spend as much time with him over the next few days.

Dad on diaper duty.

The Homecoming

We ended up staying in the hospital until Friday, May 15 (my due date). Luke passed all his hospital exams with flying colors and we were thrilled to be going home together after a four-night hospital stay.

As those of you who read Matt’s last post know, we unfortunately were only home for five hours before learning that Luke had tested positive for MCADD on his newborn screening, leading to a hospital admission for him for three days. I plan to make another post explaining my perspective dealing with his MCADD diagnosis and sharing an update being a month out – in summary, Luke is doing great and we have adjusted to parenthood quite well. We may already be discussing plans for future additions to the family. 🙂

Also, due to COVID, we were unable to schedule newborn photos for Luke, so we ended up doing them ourselves. Here are a few of our favorites:

Here’s a one-month update for Luke:

  • He rolled over when he was two weeks and one day old!
  • He likes to go for car rides and handled a three-hour trip to the lake quite well.
  • He can sleep through the sound of a vacuum cleaner but not the sound of the toilet lid closing.
  • He does not like diaper changes. One of the only times Luke will actually cry is during a diaper change. He also has very strong legs and will do everything in his power to stop the new diaper from being placed on. Sometimes he is almost successful.
  • He is a pretty good sleeper except for at 3:00 A.M. most nights.
  • He holds his head up and loves eye contact (especially with Mom).
  • He settles down when he hears music – it could be from his play mat, Dad playing Waylon Jennings, or Mom singing Christmas music.
Baby Luke at 1 month.
Dad and Luke at the cabin.
Luke in his favorite spot on the couch by Dad.
Luke and Mom.
Our family at the lake.

I will say it is so true that this time absolutely flies. Luke barely fits into his newborn clothes anymore and is so alert during the day. He is a wonderful little baby and we couldn’t be happier! Matt tells me a lot the parenting is the greatest thing he has ever done and I couldn’t agree more. We hope to continue sharing updates about Luke in the future!


Our Wedding Day: A Bride’s Perspective

Hello! It’s June 16, 2019, which means Matt and I have been married for a little over six months. I had planned to post last weekend, but we got tied up with life (we bought a house!). So today will have to do.

I’d like to take this opportunity to make my first post on the wonderful blog Matt set up for us and write a little something about our wedding. I know wedding posts usually occur right after the wedding (and not six months later) but since our blog was not in existence until only recently, six months later seems as good as time as any. This is also a reminder that we are six months away from the Christmas shopping season!

A Bride’s Perspective

When I woke up on December 8, 2018, I wasn’t nervous; I didn’t have cold feet nor did I question whether I was doing the right thing. The only thing worrying me that morning was how to quietly leave the hotel room (that Matt and I were sharing) without waking Matt. For some reason, the goom gets to sleep in on his wedding day. I put on my pink flannel pajamas, grabbed my suitcase and wedding dress (which was hiding in the closet) and headed down a floor to the bridal suite.

Not long after I got to the hotel room, my bridesmaid Courtney arrived, looking seasonal in her red and green flannel pajamas (can you sense a theme?). Bridesmaids Kelly and Emily followed suit, and Hannah, my maid of honor, arrived with a hot chai tea latte and champagne (for mimosas, obviously). After my hairdresser and makeup artist arrived, it started to sink in. THIS WAS MY WEDDING DAY.

Me with my wonderful ladies, Courtney, Emily, Hannah, and Kelly.

I wish I had posted this closer to the day, because some of the details have already escaped my memory. Some things I do remember:

I was nervous, not to marry Matt, but because I wanted everyone to have a good time! How often do you plan a party for 200 people? I wanted it to go down without a hitch.

I had to take Dayquil because I was recovering from a horrible cold. Matt also poked up to our suite to borrow my Dayquil. I was much sicker than him if anyone asks.

Courtney brought a ton of snacks for us to eat throughout the day. I barely ate, but I did willingly have a mimosa. I’m pretty sure my mom had her first mimosa ever that morning too.

One of the groomsmen texted one of my bridesmaids that they were watching Spongebob with Matt. My mom didn’t believe it. I believed it, because I know my husband.

I don’t think we had any major ruffles getting ready. I didn’t forget anything and my bridesmaids were all ready to go. Of course, I found out later that TWO of Matt’s groomsmen forgot their tuxes and had to go home to get them. Go figure.

The plan was to be ready for our first look at 12:30 p.m. As I’m sure happens every wedding, we were behind schedule. When it was about time for our first look and everyone’s hair was done, I slipped into my wedding dress with the help of my mom.

Lots of buttons!

Our plan was to have the first look across the street at a park off of Kellogg. The snow was fresh from snowfall the night before, so we hoped it would make for a great spot for outdoor winter wedding photos. I could see the park from the hotel room window, so I watched as Matt and the photographer got in place. From what I could see from the window, he looked SHARP. Then, it was my turn.

Our second photographer helped gather up the train of my dress and we headed down to the lobby. As we walked outside, I was reminded that it was winter in Minnesota (I think it was 20 degrees). We crossed the street and I vaguely recall a few passing cars honking their horns and cheering (I was a bride after all!).

I started to approach the spot for our first look. Matt’s back was turned, so he couldn’t see me. The photographers straightened out my train and told me to go ahead and tap him on the shoulder. I walked towards my then-future-husband, give him a squeeze, and he turned around. I’m not sure if we laughed or started to cry, but I do remember sharing a big, warm hug.

Twirl for full effect!

I then took off my shawl and gave Matt a full view of the dress – including a twirl to show off the back! I think he approved. We took couples photos as quickly as possible then took photos with our wedding party outside. Kudos to our wonderful friends who all braved the cold with us so I could get my winter wedding photos.

Next, we all headed to the church. Matt and I are both big fans of Christmas (really, who isn’t?), which is partially why we chose a December wedding. This meant the church was decorated perfectly for the season and our wedding.

Before the ceremony, we also had a chance to take pictures with our good-looking families.

Emmons family.
Simonet family.

The ceremony was next – I’m biased, but I think it was perfect. I came down the aisle with my dad to Pachelbel’s Canon, and thankfully, Matt was waiting for me at the altar. We started the ceremony with a classic Christmas hymn, Joy to the World.

One of the most memorable things to me about the ceremony was our Pastor’s sermon. He managed to incorporate THREE Harry Potter quotes and a story about climbing. Neither Matt or I had any part in writing or giving him ideas for the sermon, so it was a complete surprise. Of course, if you know anything about me, you know that adding some Harry Potter flare to the ceremony was PERFECT and completely memorable.

You know how the rest of it goes – we exchanged traditional vows (completely memorized by both of us!) and shared a kiss. One kiss didn’t seem like it totally sealed the deal to me, so just to be sure, I jumped forward to give Matt a second kiss while we were at the altar. I knew we were for sure married after the second kiss!

Kiss #2.

After the ceremony, we headed out with our wedding party to Mears Park to take winter photos with Christmas lights. In the bus ride over, I distinctly remember my bridesmaids feeding me Cheez-its and water to keep me fed and hydrated. We also had champagne – Tyler hit me with the cork when he opened the bottle.

When we got to Mears Park, it looked perfect. The sun had set and the Christmas lights were out in full force. With our wedding party, we had a second round of outdoor photos. (A little secret – I had ditched my heals by now and was wearing boat shoes – my feet were freezing!).

Next, it was off to the reception!

One of my favorite parts of our wedding day was the cocktail hour – which we didn’t even get the chance to attend. I was particularly excited for guests to attend our cocktail hour though because I put together a playlist of music from the Harry Potter movies to play in the background. When we got to the hotel, I could hear the music from our cocktail hour and the mood was perfect!

While the guests finished up cocktail hour, Matt and I got a special sneak-peek of the ballroom! It looked better than I could have imagined.

We then snuck into a room next to our ballroom to scarf down a few appetizers whiles the guests were seated. At this time, Hannah and Courtney also had to bustle my train, which was a bit of an ordeal because my train was rather large and there were a lot of ribbons and buttons to match together. They got it all figured out and we prepared for the grand entrance. Sticking true to our Christmas theme, Matt chose “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” as our grand entrance song.

For dinner, Matt had steak and I had chicken with an extra side of Gouda mashed potatoes. I ate everything. In between bites of mashed potatoes, I remember looking across the room to all our friends and family, who also seemed to be enjoying the evening. During dinner, we instructed the DJ to play only Christmas music which fit in well with our theme.

After dinner, Matt and I had our first dance as husband and wife. We danced to “You Make it Easy” by Jason Aldean. I really wanted a country song, and this song came out about a year before our wedding. When we heard the lyrics, we both thought it was a great fit. We practiced our dance ahead of time, so we through in a few twirls and dips for fun, but I do not consider myself a dancer.

Finally, the dance floor was open for business at 8:00 p.m.! I loved seeing our friends and family all have a great time, and Matt and I certainly danced a lot. One of my favorite moments was dancing to”Cupid Shuffle,” a classic dance song amongst us millennials. We also had some late night snacks brought out – a hot chocolate bar (complete with Baileys), pretzels with cheese, and pizza.

Around 9:00 p.m., our photographer asked us to take pictures with him outside because he had a surprise for us. He told us that our DJ, who knew we loved snow, had rented a snow machine! Our photographer set it up across the street and wanted us to take a few pictures in the “snow.” It was a great surprise, and it was nice to step outside with Matt for a few minutes. One piece of advice I remember getting was that the day would go by so fast that you will want to stop and take a few moments to just enjoy the day with your spouse. Matt and I got to spend a few minutes outside taking pictures in the snow – it was perfect.

We went back inside after our surprise snow pictures and got to enjoy the rest of our reception, including a warm cup of hot chocolate. Near the end of the night, I was surprised to see a big group of our friends and family still dancing. Our DJ played “Lean on Me” as we all got in a big circle, put our arms around each other, and sang and danced together. It was a great end to the night and a reminder of how lucky Matt and I are to have such amazing friends and family.

The next day, Matt and I departed on a cruise in the southern Caribbean. I won’t bore everyone who made it this far with those details, but you can check out this awesome video (below) Matt made of our cruise! We had a great time and even got a little tan.

Thank you to everyone who attended our big day or who have supported Matt and me throughout our relationship and marriage! I took the time to write out this blog post in hopes of capturing a few of the details I remember from our wedding day before they slipped away. While writing it, I was reminded of how special everyone made it. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.

Love you, Matt.