Saturday, October 10, 2015

In the waiting room

The peppy morning-news anchor chirps that she’s expecting again and the women in the fertility-clinic waiting room all look up at the screen before they can stop themselves. It’s a reflexive thing – a subject of keen interest has been brought up; it’s early in the morning and the usual “it doesn’t faze me” guards are down. The women think variations of the same thing: God, another one? When will it be my turn? Why does it come so easy for most people?

What did I do to deserve this?

Each time a new woman comes into the waiting room, alone or with her husband, the other women assess. They don’t mean to; it’s just automatic. They look for obvious reasons for infertility – a jogging addict in sportswear with a low BMI, for example. But there are never any obvious reasons. The women know better than to do this (infertility is mostly invisible), plus none of them want to be the subject of other women’s scrutiny, but they can’t help it. They think: What is your particular flaw?

What are you in for?

They examine one another for signs of sadness. The signs are always there.

The waiting room is full of women in purgatory. The women try to be hopeful, but hope can be dangerous. Many of the women have had miscarriages. They have had to protect themselves against that traitor, hope.

The women struggle to make peace with the state of not knowing: not knowing what the shape of their lives and hearts will ultimately look like, not knowing if any of this will ever work. This state is tenable mostly when they’re distracted. Or when they give in to hope. This is just for right now. Next we’ll try this better thing and it might work.

Each of the women is in love with a person who does not exist yet. Each of the women is looking for an empty cup to fill with love.

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