And what I think about me
Well first, congratulations! I'm glad that your undoubtedly challenging journey led you to the desired outcome. I didn't struggle with infertility but had a close friend who spent years trapped in vicious cycles of hope and disappointment, and I saw the toll they took on her.
This line struck me in particular: "Do I wish that the infertility waiting room was a place of connection, where I felt supported by my partner and in community with the other women?" I could actually say the exact same thing about motherhood. It's when we introduced children into the mix that gender equities really rose to the surface of my marriage (well, for me, my partner mostly didn't notice), and it all starts when you're alone in those doctors' waiting rooms, whether you're trying to get pregnant or already are. I also assumed I'd be automatically inducted in the "mom club" upon having kids, but alas, it's been a much more isolating and lonely experience than I'd anticipated.
In fact, that's what inspired me to start writing. I felt that I almost everything I'd been led to believe about motherhood was either wrong or incomplete. I don't mean to cast a shadow over what should be a joyous time, but having read many of your stories, I hope you'll join me in speaking more honestly about this gratifying but also challenging journey!
How about a disclaimer at the start: "Warning! Happy Ending."
So glad your fertility journey has brought you to success! I was always glad that the clinic I went to had a fairly empty waiting room. I always felt the burn of imposter syndrome when I saw other women in the room. I wasn't going there because of issues with fertility, I was going there because of tubal ligation regret. I could be assured, the whole time, that things would run relatively smoothly for me. And they did. I feel like, even though I went through the process, I didn't really. My grief came before, all at once, when the horror that *it's irreversible* and *I'd done this to myself* set in. IVF was the end of my grief, whereas for many the grief is only just gearing up. So, again, congratulations!
Enjoy these moments you’ve worked so hard for. And may you find all the rest (easier said than done, I know)
Congratulations on your new little one! My mom happened to be visiting during one of my infertility cycles. First it was weird having my husband come home during a work break to provide a sample (with my mom in another room and knowing what we needed to do). Then my mom and I had to quickly drive the said sample to the clinic and then drop off my mom at the airport. On the way my mom opened the brown bag and said to the sample “Grandma loves you!”. Well that was weird, but funny AF. Then at the fertility clinic my mom asked why the other women were looking at us. I replied that I guessed most people don’t bring their mom there. We just giggled. It was a great stress relief as I can’t remember what number of attempts we were on at that point. That round didn’t take, but it’s the one I remember the most.
Wishing you all the ease, support and rest possible as you integrate a new human into your family!
As Ema said above, medical waiting rooms of all kinds are so lonely. For me, it’s the annual follow up mammograms (dense breast tissue, and everyone always wants a second look, whether or not the insurance will cover it), always realizing I’ve been holding my breath when they tell me we’re good “for another year.”
Or the moments alone in the exam rooms with my mom before they come and tell us the scan is good; her tumor is still shrinking, and then, inevitably, some bit of treatment or recovery will take much longer than we hoped.
I don’t imagine these conversations are any easier in countries with socialized medicine, but for me, every medical conversation carries an undercurrent of potential financial ruin as well, whether it’s about my own health or that of a family member for whom I will have to take unpaid time off.
All this existential dread swirling about in those starkly lit, generically-decorated waiting rooms, with the televisions that are either too loud or too quiet, or playing something “educational” on an unbearably short loop. I’ve actually come to appreciate the massive medical center waiting rooms because they don’t pretend to be inviting by decorating for the season or playing music or tv; they just serve their purpose.
The most intimate of journeys, appreciate your share.
Currently on this journey, and this rings so very true. It always strikes me that when there is a man in the fertility clinic waiting room (because you're right, women rarely have company), he is usually only there for one thing. The injustice of it all. 🙃
Oh, this essay. This heartbreaking, true essay. Medical waiting rooms of all sorts are those horrid, lonely places for me. Your essay got me thinking about how that could be different…
I hope you’re well and well taken care of on your leave! Best wishes to your whole family!
This brings back so many memories