Part 13: Wishes of the heart
The family calls it, simply, "Kathy and Wendy's baby." With each passing week, the child developing in Wendy's womb is also growing in Kathy's heart, making her feel more and more its mother.
Kathy might as well be pregnant herself.
She reports occasional "cravings" - one day she ate a whole box of strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. Also, so that Wendy won't feel "fat" by comparison, Kathy is wearing looser clothes.
She writes tender letters to the baby: one version for a boy, another for a girl.
She clips articles out of magazines about child-rearing. She's joined a national surrogacy association. She's looked into day care.
Most of all, Kathy imagines herself as a mother: singing to the baby in a rocker near the fireplace, changing diapers; she even looks forward to being awakened by screams for a bottle.
No, nothing about motherhood troubles her.
If she could take on Wendy's morning sickness, she would do it, she says, she is so sympathetic to her little sister, going through it, Kathy writes in her diary, "all for me, all for the love and wishes in her heart for me to have a child."
Kathy showers her sister with presents - bath oil, silky pajamas, a gift certificate to a seafood store, to satisfy cravings. She talks to her at least three times a day, wears a beeper to feel connected to her at all times, and walks with her after work in local parks and malls.
All the while, she inwardly prepares for motherhood.
She feels included now, she says, in the exclusive camaraderie that exists among women who are mothers, some of whom tell her she's "glowing."
"I don't mean to be personal," a client at work said one day, "but are you expecting?
"Why?" said Kathy. "Do I look it?"
"Yes, you do," the woman replied. "I hope I'm not insulting you. It's a compliment."
Kathy said she couldn't have gotten a nicer one, and that night she wrote in her diary:
"I'm sure I'm doing so much bonding with Wen that I'm beginning to look like I am . . . I am in this all the way."
* * *
Bonding with Kathy is one thing, but "I don't want to bond with the baby," Wendy asserts one day in late spring, when the pregnancy is well into its third month and Wendy's on the last button of her non-maternity clothes.
"I can't get screwed up at the end. I tell myself I won't. But you have so many people telling you you will."
She remembers the postpartum depression she went through after Rachel was born - "I was so happy, but I cried all day long."
And what if that happens again? she wonders. Will people think she's crying because she wants to keep the baby? She has alerted Kathy: If you call me up and I'm crying, don't feel bad.
One day, Wendy joined Kathy and their mother on a shopping trip to look at baby furniture, and that was enough to make Wendy decide she'll never go again. It reminds her too much of when she and Andy shopped for their own child's things, she says, and "this is not the same situation."
In fact, from that conversation on, whenever they pass a store window together, Kathy manages to pretend she hasn't noticed the adorable clothes and shoes for children.
Wendy, of course, sees through this, and feels sorry for Kathy, holding in her joy for her sister's sake. Am I "too cold"? she wonders sometimes. But then she reminds herself that there will be plenty of time - after the baby is Kathy's - to thaw out.
"I can take it for a day, maul it, kiss it, feed it, you know, powder it and change it," she'd said back in December, when the baby was a mere hope, "and then, you know, give it back - 'Here, bye-bye, see you next time.' "
She is having this baby out of love for Kathy and out of a vague sense of destiny - "I just always felt as though I was the one to help her, somehow."
Helping is just - what she does.
And yet, like many women who devote their lives to nurturing others, she wonders who she is, apart from them.
Ever since her late teens, she says, she's been someone's wife and mother. Even in her catering career, she's been someone's wife or sister.
"I don't know where I belong," she muses.
Wendy works hard on the catering truck, but it's hardly her life's calling, she says.
In the past, she's been inspired to seek some special career training, but something always has stopped her - some family member's car breaking down, say. She hates to let anybody down.
She's dreamed of becoming a hairdresser - once a year, her own hairdresser reminds her of it - but thinking about moving in that direction makes her panic, she says.
"Because what about everybody else? What's everybody else going to do?"