Though she had been through this drill too many times before, Tierney was nervous about returning to the bathroom. She paced around the apartment while Greg stayed in the living room, keeping his hopes and his head down. He sat quietly, reading in a high-backed burgundy wing chair. On a nearby glass-front china cabinet sat Greg's bronzed baby shoes, alongside a sepia-toned photo of him as an adorable, smiling baby. When she was certain enough time had elapsed, Tierney waited a little longer. She steeled herself and returned to the bathroom.
And there it was, staring up at her from the tiny round indicator window: a bold pink stripe. She had never seen one before, except in the picture on the package. "Oh my God, that's what it looks like when you're pregnant," she said, bounding from the bathroom. She ran to Greg and jumped on his lap, her cheeks flushed with joy. The moment had finally arrived: a first pregnancy for both.
They basked in the news. They kissed, they smiled, they touched each other's faces. Still, they remained cautious about the possibility of a false-positive reading from the over-the-counter test. It would be awful to announce that they were pregnant only to withdraw the news afterward. They agreed not to tell anyone until Tierney could make an appointment with Bourque for confirmation.
That visit took place April 15. A blood test, an ultrasound, and a physical examination confirmed the in-home test results. Tierney was indeed pregnant. Even Bourque was excited, circling the positive results on Tierney's patient record and adding two huge exclamation points. And he added a bonus: the due date was December 7, Greg's birthday. The ob/gyn also gave Greg and Tierney tangible proof of impending parenthood: black-and-white ultrasound images the size of baseball cards.
To the untrained eye, the pictures had all the clarity of Rorschach's inkblots. Was that a leg? A lung? Tierney's placenta? Bourque assured them he could see a healthy-looking, eight-week embryo taking the developmental leap to becoming a fetus. It was about an inch-and-a-half long. Fingers and toes were becoming clearly defined. Organs were starting to work. Spontaneous movements were beginning. Taste buds were starting to form. Tierney and Greg studied the images and tried to convince themselves they could see what Bourque did, but for the most part they had to take the doctor's word for it.
Thrilled as he was to have the pictures, Greg maintained a certain detachment. "It's like looking through an aquarium glass. You can't touch fish, even though they really are there," he said later. "You can't pick them up and you can't hold them and you can't play with them. You can't do all these things with babies when they're in utero. It's still a photo on an electric screen. When there's someone there who's crying, moving around, with needs, I think that creates a much different response."
Still, the grainy images were confirmation enough for Greg to phone his parents, Bob and Mary Fairchild, at their home in a small central Virginia town called Rustburg. Long eager to become grandparents, but unaware that Greg and Tierney had been trying to fulfill that dream, the news caught Bob and Mary by surprise. Bob expressed quiet congratulations. Mary let out an ear-piercing scream. They hung up after promising not to tell anyone. That was a treat Tierney and Greg wanted for themselves.