Dr. Meyer, a devoted Quaker, needed a little more time and spiritual advice, but also made peace, grateful for Noah. “We both decided,” said Dr. Prizant, “viewing just one child as an opportunity to have more resources to serve many more children through our work.”

Reading the second letter, which, like the first, asked for $ 500, fulfilled Dr. Meyer with fear. She left a voicemail message at the hospital. Days later, she spoke to someone who turned out to be an employee in the accounting department.

“I’m telling you there are no embryos,” said Dr. Meyer and asked her to contact the lab herself.

She waited for a call back for weeks. Nothing. She called the clerk again. “I confirmed with the lab that there are two frozen embryos,” said the clerk.

Dr. Meyer was stunned and kept silent. Then she spoke. “Do you understand how serious this is?” She said.

She was driving back from the family home in South Kingstown a few days later when Dr. Ruben Alvero, then director of the fertility center at Women & Infants, called to confirm this. “We have two of your embryos,” he said.

She pulled her car to the side of the road.

The embryos, said Dr. Alvero were found in a glass bottle at the bottom of the tank. The vial has a crack, he said, which meant the embryos may have been exposed to the nitrogen coolant for a decade. You are most likely not viable, he said, and apologized.

Dr. Meyer said Dr. Alvero, this is too much to take from the roadside. A meeting between Dr. Meyer, her husband, Dr. Alvero and Richard Hackett agreed to help set up and manage the IVF laboratory at Women & Infants. Dr. Frishman, the Dr. Meyer’s chief physician and still employed by Women & Infants was not present.