The sisterhood

There’s an unspoken bond between women who sit in infertility clinic waiting rooms. We sneak quick and sympathetic peaks at newcomers who come, sometimes with partners sometimes not. Then we politely smile and look away, each of us wondering about the other woman. How long has she tried? What has she tried? Does she have kids? Will it work for her?
We all silently wish the other woman luck even as we sit at the cusp of our own uncertain paths.
I found myself back in this space today, nearly two years exactly to the date when we underwent a successful IVF.
Outside, thousands of Washingtonians loudly cheered the space shuttle’s return to earth. We women longing for children sat in contemplative silence reaching for something that for many of us seems as far away as the stars.
For me, the visit to the infertility clinic was a homecoming of sorts.
My hubby and I spent all of 2009 and half of 2010 coming to the clinic several times a week. The nurses brightened when I walked in the door.
“Has it really been that long” one asked. “It seems as if it was yesterday.”
But things have changed. We got our dream. The hubby babysat her during the appointment since bringing kids to a clinic is a painful reminder to other patients. I wondered for the umpteenth time whether we were greedy for daring to hope we’re twice blessed.
I quietly showed the nurses Z’s photo and made the “shush” signal. And I winced when one of them “oohed” loud enough for others to hear.
I looked around guiltily. Sure enough, one woman looked pained and her hubby gripped her hand.
The last thing I wanted to do was contribute to conjuring up a painful memory—especially in what is supposed to be an emotional safe place.
I shoved my iPhone in my purse and stole away.
Later, as I was having my blood drawn, I thought back to how new and scary everything seemed last time. And how much of a pro I became.
It’s not a proficiency I’d wish on anyone.
Still, it’s not every layman that knows how to do their own ultrasounds and blood draws. I now know things like hydrating a ton makes blood draws easier. Shifting certain ways on the table helps the doc see the right parts of the pipes. Going in 10-15 pounds over your ideal weight is best for hyperemesis gravidarum sufferers since, if you get pregnant, you’ll lose at least that much in the first trimester. The extra inch to pinch also makes needle sticks easier during the injection phase of the IVF cycle.
I emerged from the exam room with a good bill of health (physically at least) the hormone level results come back later. The waiting room was near empty now, save for a few male partners shifting in their seats. At the counter a woman who was a first timer asked questions about the form.
She looked nervous and stressed and more than a little scared.
I wanted to tell her that it would be ok. That she’s in good hands. That come what may, life goes on.
I said none of these things. That would breach the unwritten protocol of the sisterhood.
Instead I smiled, looked her in the eye and said “have a wonderful rest of the day.”
And then I left to do just that.


About domesticpolichick

My life is a crazy jumble of sitcom-level domestic hijinks and fast-paced political reporting in the nation's capital. Breastfeeding while doing a phone interview with a senator...yep, I've done it and no, I won't reveal the name. Toddler calling a member of Congress on the cell..yeah, that really did happen. Pregnant in high heels on Capitol Hill trying to chase down a particularly grumpy senator, yeah...that was nuts. But what can I say? I'm just one domestic polichick trying to figure out the work-life balance.
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