Prologue: The Boy with the Blueberry Eyes
by Michelle Valliere
“Mom, I’m pregnant,” I announced over the phone. “Can you believe it?”
Silence was the only sound initially heard, followed by a strained, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. The test read pregnant right away.”
“Perhaps you should take another one.”
“I plan to, first thing in the morning. I bought a twin-pack pregnancy test on a friend’s advice, and she says this brand is the most reliable and can detect pregnancy very early, within days of conception.”
“Let me know what the second pregnancy test says. Oh Michelle, I can hardly believe it,” she managed to squeak.
My mother heard the news of my pregnancy on a cold, bleak late afternoon in January. Stunned silent, a rarity for my mother, she could hardly speak, though I knew she was thrilled. She had been excited to learn a few weeks prior that we were trying to get pregnant. She was supportive and encouraging a couple of weeks later when my period came. A grandchild on the way would be a dream come true. I later found out she was at the mall when I delivered the shock, clothes shopping the January sales. After the initial surprise waned, the store clerk and a fellow shopper who overheard our conversation were the first to congratulate her. I think she had given up on me having a baby long ago and had settled for the grand-dog instead.
My husband Bob was working in Manhattan when I learned we were expecting. He was working at Rockefeller Center on a temporary assignment, and let me just say, I was less than happy about the arrangement, but it was a good opportunity for him, a resume builder that could advance his career. He stayed in Hoboken, New Jersey and worked in New York City during the week and commuted home to Dallas on the weekends. Yes, commuted between New York City and Dallas—sounds absurd to me even now as I write this, but we did it for nearly six months. The initial plan was for him to work in Manhattan for one year and bank some money, but our plans for the future quickly changed.
Bob began the Manhattan project right after Thanksgiving 2006, and we flew up together that Friday to get him settled in the apartment and see New York City in the fall. I stayed the long weekend and discovered I forgot to pack my birth control pills. Instead of popping three or four pills on my return home and suffering through the extreme nausea, I thought, “What the heck,” and tossed the pack. We had discussed the possibility of having a baby for months, and I figured then was as good as any time to go off birth control. My OB/GYN had told me at my yearly visit the week prior that I was “of an age” when “fertility sharply declines.” She said, at thirty-eight years old, if I wanted a baby, I better get started, and if I did go off the pill, I should not use any birth control as I might have “rebound” fertility after twenty years of artificial hormones. Since my husband was away more than he was home, I thought the chance of pregnancy was slim, but I thought I might as well undergo a hormone “detox” in the meantime; we could think about pregnancy later. Besides, I never was a good pill taker, and I never accidentally got pregnant, so I honestly did not think I could become pregnant.
When Bob came home for the Christmas holiday, he excitedly charted my cycle on the Internet. Armed with the date of my last period, he entered it on a fertility Web site, which calculated my ovulation date to exactly Friday, January 11th. He called me into the home office and gleefully pointed out the date on the computer screen, the date marked by a big, red happy face. The site suggested having as much sex as possible for five days prior to the happy-face-date for optimum results. It wasn’t possible with over fifteen-hundred miles between us; however, my principal had given me Friday, January 11th and the following Monday off to fly to New York and spend the weekend with Bob. I didn’t think too much more about it, figuring the chances were one in a million. I flew to New York on the 11th, and we had a wonderful time touring Manhattan in the winter, taking a horse and buggy ride through snow-dusted Central Park, shopping Fifth Avenue, and keeping warm drinking Bloody Mary’s and eating oysters and spicy chicken wings.
I returned home to Dallas on Monday feeling exhausted. Thankfully, the next day was a snow-day, so teachers and students stayed home instead of risking life and limb in the snow and ice. Few people in Dallas know how to drive on the stuff, so it’s better to stay home. I spent the day in bed with the dog, watching movies and catching up on my sleep. Life went by as normal for the rest of the week. Bob and I talked each evening on the phone and exchanged the occasional email during the day. Bob flew home on Friday night for the weekend, and we enjoyed the time together, though it never seemed enough. Upon taking him back to the airport after church and breakfast each Sunday morning, I felt sadder and a little more alone, the year apart endlessly stretching before me. I eagerly awaited the next Friday when he would return home again.
The following Monday was a teacher-in-service day. The students had the day off, and my colleagues and I spent the day in professional development. Thankfully, our group was let out early, and it was while driving back to campus with my good friend and department chair, Erin, that I mentioned what the Web site had said about fertility and our weekend in New York. I felt tired and achy, so she thought I might be pregnant. We stopped at a local drugstore where she advised me on which pregnancy test to buy. I had never in my life purchased or taken a pregnancy test. My head was reeling by the time I returned to our quiet, empty home. I feared both a positive and a negative result. I thought a negative result would confirm my suspicions about my fertility. A positive result would raise fears about going through a pregnancy alone if Bob stayed in New York, as well as fears for our financial security if he came home early without another assignment.
I said a prayer and took the pregnancy test. I sat on the cold ceramic tile bathroom floor, waiting for the results. I closed my eyes tight, opened them, and “PREGNANT” appeared. I felt joy, pure joy. The fear subsided and I sat there in disbelief, hoping the test was correct and feeling scared to take another one with a different result. The first two people I wanted to tell were my mom and Bob. It was the middle of the afternoon in Manhattan, and Bob was likely in afternoon meetings. I hated to tell him at work, yet I was bursting with the good news. I called my mom instead and shared the news with her. I considered waiting until Bob’s return on Friday to tell him, but I couldn’t wait. I took a photo of the positive test, the “PREGNANT” result clearly displayed. I sent it to Bob’s office via email. He loved it, promptly called me, and we celebrated, sixteen hundred miles between us. Bob wouldn’t be home until the following Friday evening for a proper celebration, but the next four days allowed the news to fully sink in, and future plans, our family together here in Texas, began to take shape.
Eighteen months later, I see looking back how much God has blessed us. My pregnancy progressed without major complications, even though I am an “older” mom. Bob returned home from New York early, right after my first-trimester-exhaustion-and-sickliness ended—perfect timing on his part! He returned home and took a class, adding sought-after credentials to his resume, which promptly resulted in a good job right here in Dallas. A few months later after Benjamin’s birth when I was about to return to teaching for the second semester, our daycare plans fell through, right before the Christmas holiday. It had taken months to find someone who would care for Benjamin in her home, someone who would love him like we do. I agonized over taking him to a daycare facility where I was not comfortable with the level of care, the only one with an opening. I vacillated hourly, weighing my options. Once again, God blessed us by giving Bob a new and better paying job in the eleventh hour, one that helped to make up my salary and allowed me to resign to care for Benjamin full-time.
“Mom, the second test is positive as well,” I told her the following morning after taking the twin test.
“I’m really going to be a grandmother?” she asked with delight.
“I think so—this is really happening.”
And so began the life of our blueberry-eyed boy, our miracle baby who has blessed our marriage, home, and family more than words can express.