On first glance the fertility specialist’s office looks very much like any other doctor’s. In fact, you may find yourself thinking “Doesn’t my internist’s office have the same exact layout?” But as soon as you take a seat in the waiting room, you begin to notice the differences.
Missing are the sneezes, nose-blowing, and hacking coughs that pierce your eardrums in the waiting room of your primary care physician between October and March. This waiting room is pregnant with the silence caused by lack of pregnancy. No one shows up here with an easily treatable case of influenza, mumps, chicken pox, or pneumonia. The diagnoses that come out of this office can be far more life altering. The only upside is that they’re not communicable.
The selection of periodicals looks as varied as the offerings in other offices with news, celebrity, personal health, and fashion genres well represented. But don’t bother looking for a recent (or any) issue of Parenting, Pregnancy, or American Baby. These publications only stir grief and longing in patients who have been trying to conceive for months or years without success.
At some point, your eyes will fall on the pharmaceutical literature displays for drugs like Fertinex, Repronex, and Serophene, and the Q&A pamphlets about infertility. If you suspect you may have markers in your genome for obsessive compulsive disorder leading to negative repetitive thought patterns, do not pick up any of this literature. It may set in motion an endless loop of negative thinking that goes like this: “What if after all the time and money I’ve spent in therapy to become an integrated, well-adjusted gay person capable of caring for another human life I’m unable to conceive the child of my dreams?” You are much better off not knowing what any of those pamphlets say.
Pick up one of the news magazines instead. As you pretend to read it, you’ll have the sensation that you are being watched. This is not your paranoia. You are experiencing the furtive, appraising glances of the mostly straight women around you. Chances are they are not thinking, “Wow, she looks like a dyke.” Instead, they are sizing up where in the long and agonizing fertility treatment process you are. They are asking themselves questions like:
•Is she here for an initial assessment? Wait till she finds out what real hopelessness is.
•Has she had her hormone levels tested yet?
•How old is she? Is she menopausal and trying to defy nature like me?
•Has she tried Clomid? Is it working for her?
•Is she taking injections? Which drug is she using? Is that why she’s leaning to the left—because her right thigh is sore from last night’s shot?
•She must be here for an ultrasound. Is she producing more viable eggs than me? I blame my own mother for the rotten eggs she bequeathed to me.
•Is she harvesting for IVF?
•Could she, perhaps, be pregnant?
Don’t let the glances upset you. Don’t get angry. Remember that the fertility doctor’s office is the province of people who have a deep desire for something they cannot achieve—and you should be able to relate to that. If you’re still in your twenties or thirties, chances are you will come and go from this place long before they have realized their goal. Then again, if you’re in your forties you may not. So be sensitive and respectful—and it helps to take your ipod along.
© 2008 by Carrie Smith