During my eleven on-and-off years as an infertility patient, I logged an impressive number of hours in the waiting room of various infertility clinics, and I have a confession to make: although I appeared to be calmly reading a magazine and minding my own business, I really wasn't. Instead, I was watching, listening, and observing everything that went on with the staff of the clinic and the other clients. And boy, did I see and hear a lot of interesting things! Of course many of the things were what you would expect; couples arguing, other clients in various stages of happiness or distress, and the occasional awkward meeting of two acquaintances, both obviously wanting to keep their treatment private, who were now forced to interact. As interesting as those events were to a nosy nelly like myself, for me the most fascinating occurrences were the subtle looks and interactions between patients.
For instance, when I first began infertility treatment, I was in my very early thirties, and at the time, I looked much younger than my age (unfortunately, I do not have this problem anymore). On numerous occasions, if a woman in her late 30's or 40's was in the waiting room with me, she would surreptitiously give me the once over, and then start looking really annoyed. Once, a fellow patient started asking me questions about where I was from and if I went to school, and if I lived with my parents, which all seemed very strange, until it hit me--she thought I was an egg donor! The irony of that situation is that despite my relative youth, my underachieving ovaries were what had me sitting in that waiting room in the first place. These looks and questions were a little upsetting to me--I kept thinking, "Here we all are in a difficult situation, and we are still making assumptions and being competitive? Is no place sacred?"
One another occasion, I was in the waiting room during an IVF cycle, and there were a bunch of women who obviously knew each other and lived close to each other. It was as if my RE had offered a discount to their city block. Apparently they all lived near the RE too, and they were having boastful conversations for about how many times they had run into Dr. X at the Starbucks, the gym, the grocery store, jockeying for position about who knew him the best. For his part, I heard Dr. X tell the nurses that this was obviously a waiting room full of his patients, as opposed to the patients of his partners, because his patients were clearly the most friendly and attractive. Again, I found myself being irritated and annoyed.
As for me, I spent a lot of the time in the waiting room feeling like the most infertile person in the world. In my darker days, as someone would walk in, I would find myself thinking that she would get pregnant before me. My clinic had us sign in with chart numbers that were sequential, and thus I could see that I always had the lowest number--hence I had been going there the longest.
I'm curious to know about the waiting room experiences of others. What was your most intresting experience or observation? And do you have any suggestions about how clinics could make their waiting rooms more comfortable?
Thank you so much for reading for your comments, and if you ever have a question or suggestion, don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.