Diagnosed in 1997 with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Ben underwent four months of chemotherapy. As a result, the two were told it might be impossible to conceive. They tried with no luck, opting for fertility drugs to increase their chances. Some days Ben wondered if he'd ever become a father, and the couple began to discuss adoption. But last Christmas, everything changed.
I remember the day pretty vividly," Ben says. "I was running some errands, and Cammie was at the house. I was going to get the fertility medication. I stopped at the bank to get some money, and she called and said, 'Don't get the prescription. Get a pregnancy test.' "
Ben bought five tests and all came back positive.
The first thing we did was call family and friends, pray with them and thank God for the pregnancy," he says. "It was Dec. 23 when we found out and perfect to be able to spend the holiday with the family after that."
The Derricks decided to keep the sex of their baby a surprise. After nine months, little Owen Benjamin Derrick arrived Aug. 20 at River Oaks Hospital. To commemorate his son's birth and show his wife gratitude, Ben bought Cammie, 27, a necklace.
He brought in a little box wrapped in white paper with a bow on it," she says. "I opened it up, saw the necklace and immediately knew it was Owen's birthstone. Ben sat down next to me and hooked it around my neck."
Birth gifts, also known as "push presents," are gaining popularity. Jewelry seems to be the push present of choice for husbands looking to make a sentimental purchase for their wives. Many stores have even created registries for the occasion.
"All year round, it's kind of a common thing," says Ron Muffuletto, owner of Jackson Jewelers. "It seems like it's gotten more popular in the last 10 years and is becoming more common."
Husbands usually select something special, but gifts vary, Muffuletto says. "It could be anything from a diamond ring or special pair of earrings to a diamond cross," he says.
Charles Hayes, owner of Hayes Jewelers in Jackson, says he's sold everything from pendants to rings as birth gifts. "I've had quite a few men buy mother's rings for their wives for the birth and a few pendants with birthstones," he says. "One or two were diamond pendants."
Ted Allgood, graduate gemologist at Madison's Sollberger Watches, Clocks & Jewelry, knows a thing or two about push presents. He gave two to his wife, Carol Lynn, after the birth of their two children, Chad Everett, 13, and Victoria Lynn, 16. Like Derrick, Allgood opted for birthstone pendants, a popular push present choice.
"There's all kinds of things people can purchase for their wives when they have a child," he says. "They can range from a $50 silver charm to mother and child necklaces that have a mother holding the baby. Those range from $100 to $200.
"We also have people who really go all out because it's probably one of the most important dates in their lives. It made me speechless when it happened for me."
Some Mississippi customers have dropped $10,000 to $20,000 on push presents, Allgood says, adding that they should be purchased with Mom in mind. "You don't want to buy the wife things for the child," he says. "Get something personal for her because she has given you the gift of life, and that child will probably become Daddy's little girl.
"My recommendation is to do the best you can. Don't buy her something with an extension cord. Electronics are not what you want. Maybe the gift is a beautiful ring or pendant that could be handed down to the daughter on her 16th birthday."
While the engagement ring is traditionally one of the most significant jewelry purchases of a relationship, Allgood says push presents may be even more sentimental. "It's more emotional than the time you got engaged," he says. "It will literally make you speechless if you are any kind of man who goes through labor with her when she's squeezing the blood out of your hand. She's doing all the work. You want to make Mama happy."
For Ben Derrick, 28, "happy" doesn't accurately express the joy he felt the moment he laid eyes on his newborn son. "It's a hard feeling to describe," says the program director of Timber Creek Camp, a nonprofit interdenominational retreat ministry in Scott County. "So many had said it wouldn't be possible. I was just reminded that with God all things are possible, and we have a little thing in our house that reminds us of that every day. We both discuss many times throughout the course of the week what a miracle he is."
Today, Owen is a growing boy who's generally very happy. He laughs and smiles frequently, but not at naptime. And his mother wears her push present daily. "I sleep in it and shower in it," she says. "It just reminds me of the day he was born and how it was the (culmination) of a long journey for us. It also reminds me of Ben's love for me and his thoughtfulness."
The proud papa says the push present was worth every penny. "She gave me a son," he says. "I gave her a necklace."