Part 12: Natural concerns
Andy seemed impatient during the insemination attempts. He was grouchy on the phone with Wendy the night of the pregnancy test. And now he seems hidden behind a barrier of good-natured kidding.
Not for nothing, as the local saying goes, but what's really going on in there?
Wendy thinks Andy has needed time to adjust to a shock - as what husband wouldn't? But Andy says no, he's fine.
"The cocky caterer," as Wendy calls him, makes a convincing case that he is, in fact, excited about this surrogate pregnancy, now entering its third month.
Sure, he was impatient with the insemination process, he says, but that's because he never believed it would work. To hear Wendy describe it - it sounded so clinical compared with conventional baby-making - he couldn't see anybody getting their hopes up.
"It was all new to me, too," he says, "just like to them."
And yes, he may have sounded less than thrilled on the night of the positive pregnancy test, but look, he had been up since 4 a.m. "I was sleeping when you guys called." The news took him by surprise, he says, but surprise quickly turned to relief that all the trying is over.
And as for his jokes, well, that's just his way. It practically goes with his job. "I'm getting a lot of - you know, guys at work busting me up. How'd she get pregnant? Did she go to bed with him?"
Cracks like that don't hurt his feelings, though, he says, and in fact, he's proud of Wendy.
"When do you really get to see something like this, to be a part of something like this? How many people would really do it?"
* * *
His parents, for two, would not.
"I have a feeling that I would have never agreed to it," says John Moricas, sitting with his wife, Eileen, on the sunny deck of their Cranston home.
It is a warm day in late May, a hint that spring may finally be opening out into summer. The smell of freshly applied deck stain competes with that of the lilacs. Before long, the pool cover, puddly from a recent rain, will be folded up again in the shed.
John, too, is going through a transition.
"The first thing that I said when I heard about it - and she can confirm it," says John, pointing to his wife, "is that they need to have their head examined. They should go see a shrink. Really. That's what I said to Eileen. I said, 'Before they really make their mind up and decide that this is what they're going to do, I think they really should speak to a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or even a clergyman.' "
He'd never told Wendy and Andy about these feelings; they didn't ask and he didn't want to interfere. (Wendy and Andy have nonetheless sensed his qualms.)
Don't get him wrong, he says - "I think it's a wonderful thing - bringing a life into the world and giving that happiness to somebody else who cannot have one.
"But my thought was always, in the back of my mind, it can create a tremendous amount of psychological effects - on all parties. On all parties. . . . It's no more than a natural concern, and that concern flows out of love for them - my kids."
His eyes well up, and he wipes a hand across them.
John is a sturdy, ruddy-faced man, a former plant manager who couldn't bear to retire, so he runs a catering truck like Andy's. His long years working around all sorts of people have made him something of an expert on human nature, and he wears a knowing look as he describes the family tensions that could arise from surrogacy - tension between Andy and Wendy, between Wendy and Kathy, between Kathy and Joe.
"The psyche is a very peculiar area," he says. "So you don't know what will happen two or three months or two or three years down the road. That's my opinion. That's why, personally, I would have never agreed."
And yet, gradually, John is adjusting to the idea, if only because so many people seem excited for the kids - "What can you do but think the same way?"
Eileen has always been happy about it.
A kind-faced woman with a soft, pale complexion, and a slight accent that's one part Irish, two parts Rhode Island, she confesses that she couldn't do what Wendy is doing ("Maybe I would try to do it, but then I'd be one of those who really messes up . . . ")
Still, she is sure that Wendy will be fine, because Wendy's talked about doing this for so long and seems so clear-headed about the baby really being Kathy's.
"And I felt," she adds, "that if Andy was that great about saying, go ahead and do it, I mean, I give him a lot of credit, too."
John agrees with her here - "Andy is a heckuva lot stronger than I."
But then, Andy has always been that way, his parents say. They think back to when he was a child, dismissing all their warnings:
"Don't worry about it" was his motto. "Don't worry about it."
* * *
Andy is determined to make Wendy as comfortable as a pregnant woman can be in the coming summer heat - by installing an air conditioner in the dining room window, for instance.
"If she's comfortable," he says with a sly smile, "it'll make things easier for me, too, right?"
He's noticed that, so far, this pregnancy isn't making Wendy as moody as her last one did. Maybe it's because this baby is for her sister and "we're all taking time out of our lives to do this," and she's sparing him some grief.
It helps a lot, he says, that Kathy comes over every day after work, and gets Wendy out walking.
The hard part, of course, will be "when she's eight months pregnant and out to here, and I'll say, 'I told you so.' "
He predicts that after the baby is born, Wendy will go through some difficult emotions. After Rachel was born, he says, she went through a postpartum depression. He remembers coming home from work to find her crying and unable to stop.
"I'm sure it'll happen all over again," he says. "You just worry about what happens afterward. It's a weird situation. When she actually has it, when she has to hand it over . . . "