In my entire adult life, I have never been late for anything. I blame my mom and step-dad who arrive a minimum of 30 minutes early for everything “just in case.” On my very first day of cycle monitoring, I was not about to be tardy for the party. Clinic opens at 8 am? Super, I’ll be there for 7:45.
As I make my way to the clinic, I formulate the excuse I will deliver apologetically to the secretaries for being obnoxiously early (“Oh gosh, I thought it opened at 7 am today! Don’t worry about me; I’ll just wait right here in front of this sign-in list with the pen in my hand until 8! You just go about your business!”), the elevators open to reveal 15 women anxiously awaiting the opportunity to have someone stick a needle into their arm and coldly probe their vaginas.
Walking into a fertility clinic is a bit surreal, and unlike anything most people experience. Imagine entering a room where everyone knows something intensely intimate about you and they’re all going through the exact same thing. That’s what it’s like to walk into a fertility clinic.
There’s a silent connection. I look at you and I know: you are struggling to do that one thing that you believe is your purpose in life. You are more than a little destroyed inside. Your lone superpower is the ability to cry anywhere, anytime. I want to hug you because we are connected by a strong bond that… wait, is that lady unlocking the door? Out of my way, bitch, I’m getting my name on that list first. (OK, so we’re all a little driven in our focus to get pregnant.)
There’s a silent connection. I look at you and I know: you are struggling to do that one thing that you believe is your purpose in life. You are more than a little destroyed inside.In the office, there are three clipboards to sign (two of them pink because, feminism): ultrasound, blood work, doctor. “OK,” I thought, “I’ll try to write on both at the same time. I’m sure I can learn to write my name with my right hand at 35.” As I prepare to embrace my new ambidextrous lifestyle, I am frozen by a tragic observation: the lists have been cruelly set far more than an arms-reach away. I notice one brilliant woman brought an assistant (likely her husband) so he could sign up on one list while she waited to fill out the other. Total baller move. Noted for next time.
I secure spot number four for the ultrasound and number two for blood work. Can one give themselves a high-five? Probably not in public. I opt for a more-subtle Hillary shimmy in my seat.
I attempt to speak to anyone who will meet my hopeful gaze. I finally lock eyes with a friendly face who explains the rules of the roost to me.
“Wait here for your blood tests.” “The doctors don’t arrive until 9am.” And, most clutch, “After the blood work, we move to those comfortable chairs over there to wait for the ultrasound.”
It’s like starting at a new school and being immediately invited to the cool table. Thank God, I wore my best athleisure today.
As we wait, three women walk in with their children. There is a palpable shift in the energy in the room; it’s a mix of jealousy, anger, and frustration. This is supposed to be our safe space, where we’re all going through the same thing, all trying to conceive, all having a one-hour respite from the world of successful pregnancies and doting mothers. It’s as if we all want to turn to them and say “you’ve already had your turn.”
After the blood work and ultrasound, we wait to see the doctor. A short woman with ginger curls and a tone far too bubbly for this time of the morning and this job, shouts my name across the waiting room to beckon me into her office.
“You’re 13!” the doctor tells me gleefully.
OK, right. Great,” I say.
She continues to thumb through her charts. I choose my questions carefully, aware that the shot clock is rapidly running out on this mini appointment.
“What’s 13 millimeters?”
“Oh! Your follicle. You have a big beautiful follicle getting ready to be released! When it’s 20, you’ll ovulate! OK, super, we’ll see you back on Sunday!”
She closes my chart with perhaps a bit more theatrics than is necessary to indicate the end of our 1-minute, 35-second appointment.
I walk out of her office feeling more than a little smug about being told twice in as many days that parts of my reproductive system are “beautiful.” As I make my way to the exit and look upon the rapidly filling room of fidgety, nervous women, I feel a twinge of jealousy as the doctor guides another woman into her office, thinking, I bet you say that to all the uteruses.
Alyssa Ages is the Toronto-based founder of BeFit Marketing, a content marketing agency; the EVP of Well TODo (welltodo.ca), Toronto’s fitness & wellness resource; and a freelance writer.
Listen to stories, share your own, and get feedback from the community.