Our Date at the ‘Couples’ Clinic

September 21, 2011

Yesterday, my wife and I had a date.

We like to schedule “us” time on a regular basis.  Every couple has to have time together when you’re not doing laundry.  I even had the date marked in my phone’s calendar.

I drove hurredly through traffic to be on time.  Our date appointment was set for 8 am.  Kind of early for romance, I know.  But even at that early hour, our date destination was already packed with couples…and a few ladies flying solo.  Most everyone was dressed up, the guys in shirts and ties, ladies in dresses or slacks.

This was our first 8 am date.  It was also our first date at a fertility clinic.  Hubba, hubba.

New Club Membership

Being nervous (who isn’t nervous on a first date, especially one that might lead to you getting lucky) I absorbed our surroundings as we awaited our turn for whatever awaited us.

There we were, surrounded by other couples on their early morning dates.  Everyone’s clothing indicated that they were heading to offices or other professional jobs after their little rendezvous.  Everyone avoided eye contact, passively fidgeting with smartphones.  My wife played Angry Birds.  Everyone ignored The Today Show on the television as the hosts chirped about the new Heinz ketchup packets.

In the corner, a basket of children’s toys and books sat, untouched.  The irony of this made me chuckle to myself.

Everyone looked basically like us.  The room was full of white suburbanites.  Some couples were as young as us.  Some looked like they had ten years of marriage under their belts.  I wondered who the regulars were, and who was new, like us, as if I was in some kind of club.

It struck me that we had joined a new club.  The same way Jazzercise attracts women like my wife, this place had gathered a dozen or so extremely alike strangers.  Other people might take the lack of another mouth to feed as a blessing.  Others pop out kids left and right in between trips to the welfare office.  We found ourselves in a club of strangers with just enough savings and blind willpower to procreate to give this a go.

Double or Nothing?

That reminded me.  How much was this going to cost?

It’s not like we’re wealthy.  I’m a teacher for crying out loud.  We are still in debt.  Making money is not my spiritual gift.

The fertility clinic is a lot like a casino.  The stakes are high.  You have to play like a big roller or you get kicked out.  I wondered if simply “making it rain” cash was an appropriate gesture.  I looked at the menu of treatment options du jour and wondered how long we could stay in this game.  How long had the other couples been at this?  How much cash had they flushed?  Can we go double or nothing if we lose the first round?

My wife and I don’t go on many expensive dates.  And it became abundantly clear that this was going to be our most expensive, least romantic date I had ever paid for.  We weren’t going to be able to do this very often.  This was going to have to be a “special occasion.”  My wife reminded me, “We have to have enough money left to adopt a kid too…and buy a car.”  Because, really, what good is a kid if you don’t have a car to take it to soccer practice?

I’ll Take a Baby, Hold the Romance

Everyone in that room had exactly the same thing on their minds.  Everyone was hoping that their dates would lead to them getting some action.  But no one seemed to be in the romantic mood.  No one was gazing lovingly into their mate’s eyes, or making kissy faces.  Everyone seemed to be trying to pretend they were not in a waiting room.  To be fair, the waiting room itself wasn’t really pulling its weight.  Its general beige-ness and fluorescent-isity in no way reminded me of a Tuscan villa or romantic, candlelit restaurant.

In a time when many people have sex without love or commitment, this is a place where people try to have babies without romance.  But I guess there are worse things than that.  Like actually raising a child without romance between you and your spouse.

My wife and I met at home after work and relaxed with a couple of beers.  At least we can still do that together while she’s not pregnant.

Tell me about the last time you were in a waiting room!  Are you a people watcher like me, or do you just stare at the medical magazines and try to diagnose yourself?

34 responses to Our Date at the ‘Couples’ Clinic

  1. Wow, Matt! That was some date you went on. I hope you didn’t have to order the lobster your first time there!

    I was in a waiting room last week. I notice people, but I don’t spend much time watching them. I have a very unlucky habit of finding really good magazine articles and then getting called back into the office before I have finished. I’m not dedicated to sticking around after the appointment to finish reading the article, so I usually go unenlightened. Hubby will take the magazine with him if he is not finished, but I always leave the magazine where I found it. Hubby also takes magazines to leave at doctor’s offices, but I never do that either. I just partially read a lot of articles. So I guess I come away from my dates unfulfilled. :)

    • He takes magazines to the doctor’s to leave behind? I understand taking the magazines with you. The always get your hopes up when they call your name, but then they just put you in a second, smaller holding cell.

      • Talking about magazines, one of my favorite things is to round up all the Jehovah’s Witnesses magazines in the waiting room (always stand out because of the watercolor paintings on the front – guess they don’t know about photography yet) and trash them. Of course someone always leaves a Chick tract on the toilet, I leave that one alone!

      • Yes, Matt, my husband feels better about buying “Popular Mechanics” and magazines about guns if he “recycles” them to the waiting rooms around us. Go figure.

  2. Hi Matt,

    I wish you two joy and good success in your quest.

    John

    My own last time in a waiting room was for results on my last prostate cancer test; it’s thriving. No problem.
    jwc

  3. I was recently on 2 waiting room dates with my wife. Ironically, it was at the urologist to get a vasectomy. Considering all the other patrons we saw were over 50, most of them didn’t have smartphones with them. We made small talk with the friendly ones and one guy gave us some great advice! “Never get old,” he said. Great. I’ll do that. :)

  4. I’m usally in a waiting room with a buncha kids running around…acting like they are sick along with mine. But then they get a little closer and yeah…you see the boogers running down their nose and cheeks.

    kids screaming across the hall cause they just got a shot.

    Kids fighting for an ugly old book of winnie the pooh.

    Oh yeah…fun times…

    Parents whisper yelling to their kids to keep it down and to get out from under the chair…

    Yeah…..i guess i’m a people watcher…

  5. Wishing the best to Mr. and Mrs. Matt.

    Since April, I have had more waiting rooms than I can count. The cardiologist, the immunologist, the urologist, the nutritionist, the phlebotomist, the orthopedist, the podiatrist, the dermatologist, the radiologist, the whatever the ultrasound-ist and MRI-ists are called, the primary care doctors and the ER and Heart Trauma Center – well there was no waiting for the HT center as I slid from the ambulance to the operating table.

    I was at one on Monday to discuss my knee MRI, it was just an hour and chatted with the daughter of a man with alzheimer’s. I just listend to how hard it is.

    I was thinking about the last one that my wife came to with me at the cardiologist where I got the good news that my heart was completely normal. It was a lot more fun than the one where I was having congestive heart failure at the ER. That day she looked sacared and worried as they shoved Plavix, Nitro and asprin in my mouth. (I guess she hadn’t thought about the half million in life insurance yet!)

  6. I was in a waiting room yesterday. That was the best part of the appointment. A little later I learned I need a root canal. Ugh.

    I spent a LOT of time in waiting rooms when my elderly dad had cancer. (It was “terminal” but God had other ideas. He’s still around and healthy 5+ years later.) The cancer center actually had a volunteer counselor–a cancer survivor–in the waiting room to help the patient and family cope with all the stress and fear of the diagnosis. I was really impressed.

    They also had jigsaw puzzles. When else can you “waste” time doing a puzzle without feeling like you should be doing something else?

  7. By the way, that anonymous guy was me…
    Anyway…I like to be the waiting room entertainer. I like to break up the stoic, business like atmosphere of dread with conversation like, “what are you here for?” “And how long have you had hemorrhoids?” I guess I like to challenge social norms. My last waiting room was after I had dislocated my finger. I made 3 people throw up as I walked around showing it off.

  8. I was sitting in a waiting room at a clinic exactly one week ago, looking through a “Parents” magazine (it was a family practice & sports medicine clinic rolled into one, and judging by the magazine options, heavy on the “sports medicine”…), pretending I wasn’t concerned.

    I had 5 vials of blood drawn for various tests to see what could possibly be wrong with me, and now I wait, one week later, hoping to hear what the results were one week later.

    I think that’s the harder part… not the waiting room, but the waiting after. I wait, wanting to know what is wrong, so they can fix it. I also wait, not wanting to hear that they don’t know what is wrong even after testing me for a myriad of issues, or that they do know what is wrong, but they can’t fix it.

    So, my living room has become my waiting room. I pass the time on Facebook, twitter, and blogs, and ignore calls from my family wanting to know how the doctor appointment went.

    Tick. Tock.

  9. Most of us dropping kids left and right are NOT on our way to the welfare office, sorry. We actually have six kids and do not qualify for free lunches or other handouts. Nor are we in debt and we own our own house. Outright. Families like mine even pay taxes so that if you guys get pregnant with quads who need millions of bucks in intensive care treatment? Your children will live. But really, who’s milking the system? The people who get a whole $150 a month in food stamps or the moms of quints? Just saying.

    I’m sorry you guys are having a hard time conceiving, but I found that comment rather mean-spirited (not to mention inaccurate).

    • It was not meant to be mean spirited at all. It was meant to be a throw away comment about a hypothetical stereotype to compare to my own situation. Sorry that’s what you focused on. Surely, I could not have been referring to you, as I did not know the specifics of your family or finances or the government assistance you do or do not qualify for.

      • *shrug* I know you weren’t talking about me. What I’m trying to get across is that that was hardly a throwaway comment. You’re reinforcing some pretty negative stereotypes about large families, as if they were just rabbits who reproduced between trips to the welfare office. I only commented here because you seem to take genuine criticism well. Trust me, there are plenty of places I’d never bother.

        I have commented before on a few occasions, so you know I’m no troll trying to get a rise out of you. I just honestly think you are a better writer than this. You don’t have to write back, just please think about what I’ve written. Thanks. :)

  10. “In a time when many people have sex without love or commitment, this is a place where people try to have babies without romance.”–that is a good sentence, my friend.

    I wish you and your wife all the best. Hard stuff.

    • I agree with Megan–that sentence stood out to me as well.

      Thanks for sharing. Wishing you the best in this journey …

      • Yep…I appreciated that irony as well.

        The kids and I were in a waiting room on Monday when we went for the youngest’s 6-mo check-up. Our pediatrician has her office in her basement and times things really well so that there’s only ever at most one other family there at a time, and usually they’re already back with her by the time we come in. The older kids have a blast playing with all the toys in the waiting room and wandering between there and the exam room (with its own toys) at will while the baby gets her check up.

  11. The last time I was in a waiting room, I was there with my 3 year old daughter and 18 month old son who were having back to back check-ups. My kids just ran around and giggled and squealed while I waited in line to check in. Oh, and my daughter had to go to the restroom FOUR times while we were there. Needless to say, I didn’t even get a chance to begin reading a magazine article let alone be interrupted while doing so.

    • Four times? Did you ask the doctor about that? :)

      • This is what is known as a “stall” technique. Precisely WHAT she’s stalling about is, well, who knows.

        But I can tell you that my girls (6 and 4.5-year-old twins) would go potty six times during a single meal if we’d let them, just because they don’t want to sit still and eat.

        If your nifty little date results in a nifty little bundle of hell-raising joy, you’ll get the delight of experiencing these techniques. 😉

  12. My most recent waiting-room adventure was today, when I popped into the doc’s for a check on my blood pressure meds (3 kids, hubby’s new job, stresses of the biologicals of my kids (argh), buying a new house, got to pack up this one in order to move…can’t imagine WHY I might be stressed). I always bring a book with me. One, because I can never find a magazine article worth reading that isn’t about LBJ taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One. Two, because waiting room time is about the only time I get to read more than thirty-seconds’ worth of sentences. Sometimes I only get that much, sometimes I get more. Sometimes I get less waiting-room time, but more cell-block time.

    The good news is that the BP is perfectly under control.

    The bad news is…I never did take that nap I planned on when I got home.

    The good news is…I was able to kill three birds with one stone and got my flu and pneumonia vaccines today too.

    The bad news? I can’t lift my arms now without audibly wincing.

  13. Love the spin you put on this story. Will be praying for you two during this chapter. We have friends going through the same thing.

    The last time I was in a waiting room I was corralling my kids to keep them from disturbing other people and watching the fish in the giant aquarium.

  14. Love the spin you put on this story. Will be praying for you two during this chapter. We have friends going through the same thing.

    The last time I was in a waiting room I was corralling my kids to keep them from disturbing other people and watching the fish in the giant aquarium.

  15. My parents struggled to conceive, had a million tests, mom had a surgery, etc. in the mid-1980s. Sure praying for you and Mrs. Matt.

    The last time I was in a waiting room, I caught up on some text messages. When I am sick, I slouch in my chair (I do all the time) and feel pitiful. The only time I people-watch is when the elderly are there for a checkup. They are amusing. :-)

  16. Thanks for sharing this, Matt.
    I can relate.

    Isn’t it funny that so many people in one room can understand how each other one is feeling, yet we choose to stay so guarded. Infertility is such an “un-talked about” topic that you feel very alone, despite the fact that so many others are going through the exact same thing.

    My hubby and I are choosing a different path but I will sure be praying for your happy ending as well. :)

  17. you don’t cease to amaze me, matt! we will get to talk soon… it has been crazy busy for me… God bless you! u r a phenomenal writer with a heart for God!