It’s time we talk about waiting rooms.
Years ago, a friend of mine started blogging about her infertility journey. Kids were far off for me at the time, but I learned so much through her documenting her journey. Something small that she mentioned really stuck with me. She talked about how much sitting in the waiting room sucked. She described her first time sitting in the fertility clinic waiting room thinking about the reality of why each person was there. Everyone in the room wanted a baby, and they each had some issue that was blocking that dream from becoming a reality. Something about that resonated with me.
Years later, I found myself sitting in the waiting room of a fertility clinic. We had tried everything with my OB and it just wasn’t working. I agonized over the appointment for weeks. When the day finally came, I felt a rush of emotions. I wanted to be hopeful about the good news I might hear, but in reality I was just so nervous, so worried, and so sad. I can’t describe the sadness of having no control over something you want so badly.
The First Appointment
I remember every detail of my first visit and just like my friend mentioned years before, I remember the waiting room. I specifically remember trying to distract myself and not make eye contact or stare. I gripped my phone tightly, scrolling aimlessly, listening closely for my name to be called. I remember seeing another couple with sadness in their eyes talking in hushed tones in the corner. I’ll never know what their struggle was, but I felt solidarity with them.
I also remember a woman laughing with the receptionist as she stopped in to pick something up. I remember her laughter feeling so selfish to me in that moment. I wanted to smile and laugh too, but I just didn’t feel a lot of joy in that season of my life. I assumed the couple across the room wished they could smile and laugh too. I wanted her to leave… quickly.
That was my first visit. Over time, the waiting room experience became routine. I was usually curious at what brought others there, but I kept my head down. I saw smiles and tears both enter and exit that room. As for my journey, with the doctor we developed a plan, worked the plan, and despite setbacks, it eventually worked. But I knew that everyone didn’t have the same experience. I knew some people who sat in that waiting room would never get the news they so desperately hoped for.
It was never lost on me that whether you got good news or bad news, we all had to sit together in that waiting room before being called back. The waits never felt short enough, and I never seemed to have enough to do on my phone. But the worst, the absolute worst, was when someone tried to make small talk with me. I’m sure they meant well, but I hated it. The only thing I wanted in the whole wide world was a baby… the end. Not to casually chat about the weather, holidays, work, or what school I went to.
To be honest, the waiting room experience only got worse for me once I was pregnant. Once pregnant, you eventually “graduate” from the fertility clinic and are seen in a typical OB office and/or by a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist. I can’t count the times in a waiting room I’ve been asked: How many weeks? Boy or girl? Picked a name yet? These questions can sting too.
Not everyone’s appointment is routine. Not everyone is seeing a specialist for a small issue. Not everyone’s ultrasound will display pictures of a well developing baby. The chances that someone you are sitting next to is dreading the reality of what will happen when they are called back, are much higher than we tend to realize.
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. I know that seeing a pregnant woman brings people so much joy. But when you are trying to conceive, have a tough history, or are experiencing a high risk pregnancy, it can also be a time of immense difficulty. And for some, the seemingly simple task of sitting in a waiting room can add to the struggle.