Parenting

Infertility Awareness Week and the woman in the waiting room

Katie recalls her mornings in the fertility clinic waiting room.

Photo: pidjoe/iStockphoto

While you were sleeping this morning, or maybe just as you were making coffee and turning on the news, there was a woman somewhere sitting in a waiting room. It might be her first time, or she might sit in those chairs so often that she knows all the nurses by name. She might be in a gown, waiting for her turn in the ultrasound room, or she could be wearing a long-sleeve shirt to hide the blood work bruises when she heads to the office in an hour. She might sit and stare at the baby pictures pinned to the walls, or she might flip through magazines to keep her eyes from wandering to sleeping newborns and chubby infants. And by the time you are dressed and walking out the door, she’s been poked and prodded and given next steps. And then she’ll wait again. Wait for tomorrow, wait for her next procedure, wait for a positive test, wait for the next cycle.
 
It’s not easy, this baby business. For some people, it’s really hard. Even next to impossible. And yet, month after month, these women subject themselves to examinations and treatments in the quest to become a mother. When I was a woman in the waiting room, with a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis, I often wondered how long I could do it, at what point I would look for another route to parenthood. I didn’t trust myself to have that much faith, to find the hope I’d need to keep coming back. To say the tests aren’t fun is an understatement — they’re invasive and made me feel completely exposed (in all manners of the word) — but I guess visions of the tiny, cherubic end result kept me getting up early and baring all.
 
When you want something so badly, it shows up everywhere. If you want to buy a house, there will seemingly be nothing on TV but property and renovation shows. If you’re looking for a new job, every person you know will suddenly have career news. And if you want a baby, every single one of your girlfriends will appear to be announcing their pregnancies at the same time. You’ll see baby bumps everywhere you go. You’ll think that book you’re reading is safe and then one of the characters will be expecting. You won’t be able to avoid it. (It’s similar to when I was a teenager and found the name of the boy I liked all over the place — store signs, license plates, etc. Something in my brain was on high alert for the letters.) It drags, and hope wanes. And every day that you have to go back to the waiting room is another day that the dream has yet to be realized.
 
I was lucky. I spent a total of three months as a patient at the fertility clinic before I saw that second line appear. For some women, it’s years. That’s the thing about the waiting room. It’s the great equalizer. Everyone is chasing the same goal. A picture to stick to that wall. But hope is a funny thing; it gets us through when we don’t think we can take another step. If you were the woman in the waiting room this morning, let it carry you. I’m sending you the hope I have on reserve for a second baby when the time is right, too; we have to do that for each other. So we all make it through, no matter what happens.

Editor’s note: Today’s Parent and EMD Inc. Canada discovered, through exclusive research, that infertility is more common than you might think. Check out some of the stats here.