As I entered the waiting room I was nervous. After signing in I quickly found a seat and a magazine. A moment or two passed and I discreetly glanced around the room, which was partially full.
Hmmm...there seemed to be others like me. Plenty. Some younger, some older, all with an air of expectant hope encircling them.
The waiting room at the Center of Reproductive Medicine became a very familiar place over the next one and a half to two years. I occasionally heard congratulations and saw joyous smiles as women left the office, I also saw fresh disappointment on other faces. Sometimes we'd swap stories, except these stories usually contained lingo like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, unexplained and secondary infertility and the timing of HCG shots. Being there, I felt a sense of community, of shared purpose. It was comforting to know I was not the only one.
The office had a strict no children policy as a comfort to their clients. Anyone that was visibly prego entered through another door. It might sound strange, but it was actually a relief to have one place without a clear visual reminder of what I did not have. I felt protected.
When you begin assisted fertility treatments you typically follow a type of sliding scale of treatment, especially if you have unexplained infertility, varying from a conservative approach (oral meds), progressing to more aggressive approaches (oral and/or injectable meds with IUI (inter-uterine insemination--now I'll get google hits on that I guess) and then the Big Mac Daddy IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). With each one you become a little more tied to the calendar, the clock and to the clinic. It's hard to keep perspective as you move from phase to phase. On one hand you feel failure and on another you see a glimmer of hope with the next attempt. It's that glimmer that keeps you going. Even though you are hepped up on so many hormones you ought to wear a disclaimer on your t-shirt warning at any moment you might rip someone's head off (probably your beloved's noggin) or use their shirt to mop up your tears all in the span of 30 seconds, you keep going. Even though your legs, hips, stomach are black and blue from hormone shots, you keep going. Even though you are bloated and carrying extra pounds from hormones and depression, you keep going. Even though you are afraid to add up just how much all of this is costing, with nothing to show for it, you keep going. Even though you feel like you are planning your life (No, we can't go see that movie, we have to be home for my shot) around the clinic and the detailed treatment calendar and the blood draws and the procedures, you keep going.
The question is though, if you have not gotten pregnant after all of that, how do you know when to stop?
I'll talk about that soon.