To the woman in the waiting room,
We noticed each other when I walked in, although we didn’t make eye contact. You were sitting stiffly on the plushy brown couch, not bothering to flip through women’s magazines or sip coffee from the Keurig machine that I’ve never seen anyone use in all my times there.
I noticed you because the expression on your face was familiar: slightly bored from waiting longer than you had planned and yet knitted in anxiety. I don’t know if this was your first visit or your tenth.
My gut twisted a little bit when I passed you but I was already smiling and waving at the women behind the front desk. I’ve spent so many mornings with them that I feel like they’re old friends, and because I happened to be in the building I wanted to say hello.
Let’s be honest, I was showing off.
My belly is now big enough that strangers smoking on the street turn away out of courtesy and people I encounter regularly—security guards, the woman who works at the sandwich shop, the guy I chat with in the hallway—can freely ask when I’m due without fear of offending me.
I was torn between hoping I could be some symbol of hope and loathing myself for intruding in what is now your space.
I spent a long time keeping secrets. I couldn’t tell the world during the years of trying, waiting and testing, only to have to start all over again. I stayed quiet all those months of coming to this very office week after week, of minor yet horribly invasive procedures and finally, of nausea and bone-crushing exhaustion. So now I welcome the chance to show off the growing results of all that hard work.
When I saw you in that room, waiting for your turn to see the doctor who got me to where I am, I was torn between hoping I could be some symbol of hope and loathing myself for intruding in what is now your space.
I think about this often when I talk to real-life friends about their own struggles, debating whether I’m helping or hurting by commiserating with my own memories of what it was like. I can’t forget the overwhelming shock of seeing the basket overflowing with expensive pills, needles and vials that were somehow supposed to create a miracle. I remember the endless jabs in that very office, trying to coax blood from my uncooperative veins. I look back regretfully at the red-hot waves of anger and rage that were so unmanageable I couldn't distinguish what was real and what was from the medication (but always, always hating when my feelings were dismissed as “it’s just hormones”).
I still don’t know if makes any sense to share my very personal memories of injecting myself in a public restroom and a few weeks later, sobbing in the stairwell at work as quietly as possible while my heart was breaking because it had all failed.
Because, ultimately, my story does have a happy ending and all I know is that my showing up—unannounced in your day—greeted by a chorus of congratulations, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the same ending. But I truly hope you do and that, someday soon, you’ll be able to pass along your story to someone else who needs to hear it.