Part 4: "This isn't working"
It is Halloween - three weeks since Insemination Day - and the whole family is at Grandma Mary Petrangelo's apartment in Monsignor DeAngelis Manor in West Warwick.
They are celebrating Grandma's birthday, but all Kathy can talk about, Wendy recalls later, is when they'll do "the pregnancy test, the pregnancy test, the pregnancy test."
Wen, what's the matter? Are you feeling okay? Kathy asks, because Wendy seems subdued and distant. (Could these be the first symptoms of pregnancy?)
Wendy just stares in silent panic, then leaves the party before anyone else. Later, she calls her mother, Louise Allaire, and says, Ma, Kathy's so excited, I don't have the heart to tell her.
Oh, Wen, oh, no, says Louise, disappointed herself by the news, and feeling for both her daughters. But you're going to have to tell her.
Wendy's husband, Andy (who didn't expect the procedure to work, anyway), agrees: What're you going to do? You have to tell your sister.
Finally, at around 10 p.m., Wendy draws a long breath, and punches in Kathy's number.
Kathy answers in her usual cheerful way - Hi Wen! How you doin'? How you feelin'? What're you doin'? - and gabs a bit about the party, as Wendy searches for words.
Uh, Kath, when I got home, I - uhh - I got my period. So don't even bother buying the pregnancy test.
Kathy seems to take this all right; she murmurs, that's okay, Wen. But after she hangs up, she weeps. She weeps until she falls asleep, and in the morning, she weeps again.
Then she gets herself to Wakefield to work.
For weeks, her colleagues at the state Department of Labor and Training have shared Kathy's contagious enthusiasm. People head for her cubicle by the window, demanding updates. She gets calls from the Newport and Providence offices - "So. Is she?"
Now Kathy will have to tell them: No.
At one point during the day, she has to call some agency executives to run a small matter by them, but tears come, and she can't get past hello.
* * *
It is Wendy's idea to take a break - to not try again to get pregnant until January or February, and maybe to see a doctor first.
"This isn't working, so I mean, something's got to be wrong," she says, feeling pressure to produce. (In fact, experts say that for a woman of Wendy's age and childbearing history, it typically takes between four and six months of trying before conception occurs.)
Kathy calls Dr. Andrew Blazar, a gynecologist she's gone to in the past, and makes an appointment for the earliest date she can get, Jan. 14, a full two months away.
She tells herself to be patient.
* * *
The next day, Kathy is reading The Journal-Bulletin when a small item speaks to her.
The newspaper is inviting readers to nominate "Good Folk" - ordinary people who quietly make a difference in others' lives - to be the subjects of holiday stories.
Kathy grabs a pen, and in a large, neat schoolgirl's hand, fills six lined pages with grateful words for Wendy and Andy.
"The love that they have brought into our lives," she writes, "surpasses all gifts that we have ever known."
* * *
The resulting interview around the table at Wendy and Andy Moricas's home in Warwick has the feel of a family celebration.
Although Kathy emphasizes that she and Joe are open to foster parenting or adopting if artificial insemination doesn't work, everyone seems certain that this will not be necessary, that Wendy will get pregnant.
There are jokes about weight gain and mood swings and what-if-it's-twins - and also some serious talk about a very real issue: Could Wendy give a baby away?
It's something she's thought hard about, if only because friends have peppered her with questions: How could you? It's your egg, it's yours. How could you do that? How could you just give it away? When you look at the baby, aren't you going to know it's yours? It's yours, it's not your sister's.
Of course I know it's mine, Wendy tells them, but also, it's not mine. I carry it, but once I have it, it's Kathy's.
"They just want to bring you down," she concludes, shaking her head in exasperation.
Wendy saw "the Baby M movie," about the surrogate who couldn't give up the child she bore, and "I was trying to feel like that," she says, "but I can't feel that way. There's not going to be any battle."
Instead, she says, there will be a happy ending:
She envisions herself in the delivery room, handing a tiny child to her sister, and saying, "This is my gift to you."