That awkward moment when you run into somebody you know in the waiting area of the fertility clinic.
Today Sea and I headed back to Clinic One for a blood tests (for both of us) and ultrasounds (for me). I arrived alone, Sea having less time to take off work was joining me post-ultrasounds. Clinic One was just as I remembered it: bustling waiting area, multiple receptionists sitting bored at a long desk, countless pictures of babies adorning the walls. As Call Me Maybe played over the PA system, I was directed by a slightly shrill receptionist to the other side of the clinic to wait for my ultrasound.
I hadn’t been to this side of Clinic One before. In fact, Clinic One is so sprawling that I hadn’t even noticed the large waiting area to the left of the entrance. Here the chairs were placed into long rows, as if awaiting a bored class of people trying to get pregnant. A large fishtank with a sign instructing me not to bang on the glass formed a sort of divider between two sections of chairs, the only nod to privacy. A woman who looked to be about 70 sat– legs crossed and foot tapping– waiting. And then, that awkward moment: seated in the center seat of the first row of chairs was I woman I know.
What do I do? Is it too late to pretend that I haven’t seen her? Oh no, she’s making eye contact. She’s smiling. Does smiling mean I should say hi? Do I sit next to her? What do I say? What do I do?
I stood, totally unsure about the etiquette of how to greet acquaintances in this context. At a party? Easy. On the street? Fine. But here, in a clinic that people only visit to make babies– not, I imagine, to admire the range of tropical fish in the large tank– I didn’t know what to do.
She was still smiling, moving her purse from the seat next to her, so I took this as an invitation and sat down. Awkward, joking, she asked why I was at Clinic One. “Oh, you know, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with my Thursday morning… so I decided a transvaginal ultrasound was the best choice.” She laughed, and as we sat waiting we talked about our experiences with clinics, doctors, paperwork, ultrasounds. It never really stopped being awkward, but it did start to feel… alright. At points it was even nice to be talking to a person, in-person, who is also in the midst of this strange process.
She was called in for her scan before me, and I was again alone. Having waited 90 minutes for our last appointment with Clinic One, I had come prepared with a knitting project and a library book in my bag, and no expectations of a speedy exit. Though the receptionist had told me that the wait would be five minutes, I spent twenty minutes trying to focus on my knitting and not on the too-full bladder (crucial for a good ultrasound, I’m told) before being called in to my appointment. The ultrasound technician chatted with me between counting follicles. She told me that my uterus was beautiful and that I was a good patient.
With my uterus’s ego bolstered, I met Sea in the waiting area, where she pointed out a picture of quadruplets among the endless twins and triplets. No. Just, no. Before I could really process just how terrifying quadruplets would be, Dr. Text appeared, looking every bit as frazzled as he had during our first visit. After a hurried greeting, he rushed towards his office with the expectation that we would follow. Again our conversation with Dr. Text was so dizzyingly fast, I barely remember what we talked about. There were more scribbled diagrams and casual jokes, and then Sea was shuffled off for her bloodwork and I was ushered into another clinic room for a physical. The physical inexplicably involved another transvaginal ultrasound*: as my second one that morning, it was redeemed only by the fact that I did get to see the images this time. What did you do today? Oh, looked at my ovaries…
Having determined all was well, Dr. Text rushed out as quickly as he had come, leaving me to dress and find the blood draw area on my own. The friendly technician joked with me as she tried to find a vein, “Oh, I think that I feel something! I hope that it lasts forever.” and encouraged me to laugh it out as I grew increasingly pale. Thoroughly poked and prodded I was sent back out on to the street with a friendly reminder to call on day one of my cycle. Yes, I thought as I walked away, see you in two weeks.
*I’ve decided to keep a running tally of the number of ultrasounds I have during this whole process. Ultrasound Count = 3