A Midwest Express Clinic Baby
Originally published on nwitimes.com on May 13, 2021
Friends and Midwest Express Clinic employees Delia Vallee and Melissa Conover have a unique relationship. They’re about to become family. Conover and Vallee have been close friends for about four years. When Vallee applied for the job, Conover was the first Midwest Express Clinic employee she spoke to.
“I had an instant connection with her,” Vallee said. “I could see myself being really good friends with this person. We became really close. She kind of took me under her wing and helped me out. I grew along with her as time went on. We became really close, like family.”
Conover was engaged and trying to have children. She suffered two miscarriages. Vallee saw how much it devastated her friend. Conover’s engagement ended around the same time Vallee went through a divorce. They were there for each other during those times and the relationship grew stronger.
“It was not an easy time,” Vallee said. “Our lives are very similar but at different stages. We felt like we were living the same life. We really helped each other out and we still continue to this day to help each other out.”
Then, Vallee got pregnant.
“I didn’t have any intention of getting pregnant again but I told her if I did, I’d totally be willing to help provide her with a family,” Vallee said. “I already have my own children. I was considering an abortion and I thought ‘What am I doing? I could give my best friend who can’t have children something she’s been longing to have for years.’”
The friends had conversations about the idea but neither was quite sure how serious the other was. Vallee made it real. “I was like ‘Well, do you want a baby?’” Vallee said. They talked to their families and a lawyer. A boy, Kelbe Reece, is expected to arrive around Memorial Day.
“Her exact words to me were ‘Mel, I think we’re having a baby,” Conover said. “I was so, so happy. I cried big crocodile tears.”
The pregnancy taking place during a pandemic means Conover hasn’t been able to attend every appointment with Vallee. She’s been to some and sees videos and recordings of heartbeats and ultrasounds. They’ve even done a few ultrasounds at work.
“We talk at least once a week about her mental state, my mental state, making sure we’re still solid through everything,” Conover said.
Conover is an operational resource for MEC, working mostly out of the Schererville office. Her mother, Debbie, was the first person she called after the initial talk with Vallee. She didn’t hesitate to tell her daughter to take the opportunity while she could. Debbie plans to retire in August and be around to help with the baby.
“It was a 10-minute conversation before my mom said ‘I will have your back and I can’t wait for my grandbaby,’” Conover said. “She’s had 100 percent faith in me and Delia throughout this whole thing. She’s always had the words of wisdom we both needed to hear. She’s been our rock.”
Vallee was able to see the strength of that support structure at a recent baby shower. “She’s gaining an extra family and we’re kind of saving each other,” Conover said. “She’s giving me the gift of life that I’m not able to give myself.”
Vallee, an X-ray technologist and team resource with MEC, already has two children. The two families have come together during the pregnancy. She wants Kelbe to eventually know that he has siblings.
“She’s been a big part in the decisions on how I’m going to raise Kelbe because it is going to be a touchy situation,” Conover said. “I’m always very careful that I include her because she is my best friend. She is the mother of this baby. I want to make sure she’s always comfortable.”
Vallee and Conover plan to be as honest as possible with the baby. He’ll know his biological mother as his birth mother, not a friend or an aunt.
“Being a single mother’s not easy and now she’s going to become a single mom,” Vallee said. “I told her I’m going to be there. I’m not just going to run away. We’ve come to the understanding that we’re going to raise this kid so he knows who we are to him.”
Conover will take time off and begin working from home about four weeks after the baby is born.
Both women say their bosses and coworkers at Midwest Express Clinic have been very supportive. They get notes and gifts from colleagues and have supportive conversations with superiors.
“I didn’t realize how much love and support we were going to have from work,” Conover said. “Everybody is just so excited because they’ve watched the pain that I’ve gone through and they’ve watched Delia go through her own. To see us come together and do this for each other, they’re elated. It’s kind of our little Midwest Express Clinic baby.”
“This is not an easy thing to do,” Vallee said. “People ask me if I’m really OK with it and I am. I think it’s hard for people to understand that because it’s not an easy thing for a woman to do. But I’m alright. I’m totally cool with this. I want her to be happy and have a family. If I can give it to her, that’s what I’m going to do.”