Part 16: The little question mark
"I see it! I see it! Look at how darling! Oh, my God!"
It's Kathy's voice, slightly muffled, heard from outside the small, dim ultrasound room - "Look at the eyes! The eyes are right there!"
She and Wendy are having their first look at the baby, the baby Kathy's wanted since childhood.
The two sisters went into the room before anyone else, along with sonographer Lisa Braz, to get Wendy modestly arrayed under a paper sheet for a family viewing of the developing fetus.
Outside, in a large meeting room humming with fluorescent light, the relatives wait and fidget. Rachel presses her ear to the door, lets her hand hover playfully near the door handle, and heaves great, impatient sighs.
"I'm going out for a cigarette," says Nicole, restless.
"I think I need a drink," says Joe, dropping coins into the soda machine.
Finally, the door opens. Kathy pulls Joe in, then closes the door - "See the arm. It's sucking its thumb, honey. That's his head. Isn't that something. Oh, my God!" Kathy opens the door and waves in the others.
"Doll!" says Kathy, addressing the dark, amorphous shape, which moves in a slow, undersea way on the TV monitor.
Lisa pushes a small device - a transducer - to a new spot on Wendy's belly for another view.
"Oh, sweetheart," Kathy tells Joe. "Look at the arm. And that's the hand!"
"I'll be damned," says Joe.
"Lookit!" Kathy says to Nicole and Rachel. "You see your cousin? You see your little cousin. You can see it perfect!"
Now two more spectators - Louise and Bob - squeeze into the room. "We're all here!" announces Louise.
"As if we're not all going to be here," says Kathy, smiling. (Even her grandmother, Mary Petrangelo, is taking part, by saying the rosary at home.)
Lisa next points out a tiny leg and goes in search of some feet when Louise asks the question on everyone's mind - "Have we seen the, uh, important part yet?"
The silence tells her, no.
It's okay, says Louise, leaning toward the screen and squinting hard. "At least we know it's in there. It's not a dream." Excited, she gives Nicole a hug.
They see another leg, a foot, eyes, the stomach, fingers. "Almost done," says Lisa.
Now the silence feels panicky - almost done?
Lisa takes pity on them: "If I had to take a guess - and this is early - I would say, a girl."
"She usually has girls," a pleased Kathy says of Wendy.
"But like I said, it is early," says Lisa, still moving the device over Wendy. "Nothing is showing. I think I do see what looks like a girl."
"Oh, so we can get lacy and stuff," says Kathy, envisioning the nursery.
"I was gonna get lacy, anyway," says Louise.
Kathy presses her face against Joe's - "Gonna have a little girl," she coos. Joe smiles inscrutably.
Nicole makes her feelings plain: She's rooting for a boy. "Too many girls" in this family.
The baby's form is still on the screen. Its spine, its brain, its - hey, what was that? - but the baby shifts and the shape vanishes.
"Did you see something]" Kathy asks Lisa.
"You thought you saw something, didn't you?" says Bob.
"I think I did, too," says Joe.
"So did I," says Bob.
Kathy says it was probably just the umbilical cord - not that she even cares about the sex, mind you. "I just want a baby."
The technician, for her part, wears a poker face - "It's nice and active, that's what matters. The most important thing is this little heart's ticking away."
Who could disagree with that?
There are hugs all around, then Louise and the menfolk depart, leaving Kathy and Wendy and Wendy's daughters to meet with midwife Christine Pfeiffer in another office.
Christine goes over Lisa's report: The baby looks great. Four chambers of the heart. Placenta in the right place. Amniotic fluid, fine. A hundred fifty grams in size. Everything perfectly appropriate . . .
And as for the baby's sex, she says, reading her antsy audience, that is "a little question mark."
She promises they can take another peek at their next appointment, on June 10th, but after that, no more ultrasounds. She's just not into "that television thing."