Part 1: "It wasn't just that I wanted to be a mother, it's that I wanted that to be my life"
The child, though not yet conceived, has a name - Mary if it's a girl. Joseph if it's a boy.
The child has a high chair, empty now, but giving an air of hope and expectation to the house with pink shutters on Fruit Hill Avenue in Providence.
Most important, the child has a family, including a generous aunt, which is why the child is possible at all.
* * *
"We just thought . . . for years . . . that it was cramps. . . . But it wasn't."
Kathy Aguiar, curled into a soft chair in her living room, her usually clear voice a halting whisper, is explaining how she got to this point. It is a story of a dark time, when she put aside her deepest desire, and began to live "on the surface."
It was winter, 1976.
Kathy was 18 years old, and the pain in her lower abdomen - a gripping, twisting pain, as if a hand were trying to wrench her inside out - had once again landed her in the hospital.
The problem was diagnosed as acute endometriosis, pieces of functioning uterine tissue growing onto other pelvic organs.
She won't be able to have children, she overheard the doctors telling her mother, a statement so alarming that Kathy told herself it could not, would not, did not apply to her.
"I was brought up to have children," she says. "Five children. It was always said to me. My mother had five children, that's the way that I was. It wasn't just that I wanted to be a mother, it's that I wanted that to be my life."
At North Kingstown High School, she had taken so many courses in child development that there were no more left to take, so she switched to Coventry High School for a year to take more. In her spare time, she did volunteer work with kids.
All of that seemed so far away now.
The pain was so bad she was shaking and sweating. Her panicked mother was a maniac, shouting at the doctors that they were wrong - but they weren't. This has to happen, Kathy remembers the doctors telling her. It has to happen for you to live.
"And I was in so much pain that I said, 'Do it, take it.' "
So they did, she says soberly and without bitterness, for she knows they hated to do it - "They took everything."
When she came out of surgery, she found more than two dozen stitches running up and down her belly. She was offered counseling, but she declined it, a decision she now regrets.
During her long recuperation, her family, especially her mother, was loving and attentive, but Kathy also spent endless stretches alone and thinking - angry thoughts, mostly, directed at God.
Kathy was raised Catholic by her Portuguese-Italian mother, and believed all that she had been taught about God - "that God wills things, God punishes" - and she couldn't figure out what she had done to deserve this.
One day, in a fit of anger, she threw the Bible against the wall, a sacrilegious act, she knew - "In my family, if you drop the Bible, you kiss it" - but it was the only way she could express her fury at a God she felt had forsaken her.
"I was crying and crying," she says. "I lost my identity. As a woman, I had all these dreams. Now nothing made sense, anymore."
Least of all, a career path focused on children.
I can't do this to myself, she remembers thinking. "I just shut the door. I had to. I had to start changing. I had to do a lot of things on the surface, because my love is children. That's my love. So I started getting into business, because it'll keep you away from what you love."
She worked in a number of corporate jobs before taking her current position, as a job counselor with the state.
And in a workaday way, she got on with her life.
Her feelings toward God softened when she read a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushner, a rabbi who had lost a child.
Kathy identified with Kushner in his grieving, and was comforted by his careful delineation of God's power - that God is not going to change the physical laws of the universe, for instance.
"I started thinking about that," says Kathy. "I thought, 'This is not against me.' "
* * *
A few years after Kathy's hysterectomy, her younger sister, Wendy, got pregnant.
The news caused Kathy no sorrow, she says, and in fact, she was thrilled - "It was like we were having one."
That feeling of shared motherhood endured, because Wendy, her husband, John, and the baby, Nicole, moved into Kathy's apartment for a few months.
"When Nicole cried, I picked her up," Kathy recalls. "I had joy because it's like I had the baby that I wanted, and that was Nicole.
"My life, as far as I was concerned, was shut off. I didn't have a chance. I chose not to look at it."
She never spoke of what she had lost, nor did her family, but they hurt for her nonetheless.
Wendy, especially, watching Kathy play with Nicole, could see what a good mother her sister would have made, and it filled her with compassion.
In 1987, as Wendy headed toward a second marriage, she struck a deal with Andy Moricas, her intended.
"If I do marry you," she told him, "I would like to give my sister a child."