Daydreaming in the Waiting Room

Over time, I have accumulated many waiting hours in the several fertility clinics my wife and I visited in Canada and abroad. For some odd reason, when my mind became idle from the wait I often felt that the mood in those waiting rooms was very particular, as if everyone there was anxiously waiting for the result of a new recipe being made in those very weird kitchens… Strange analogy? Perhaps. But not entirely surprising given my passion for food…

As my mind traveled freely trying to avoid the gossip magazines and the fashion editorials, I imagined the feeling of a Chef just before unveiling a new creation, being surrounded by anticipation for its outcome and full of hope for its success. Like a critic dueling with thoughts about that mysterious recipe, I felt sharing the tension in the air with fellow comrades, a tension so palatable that I could almost taste people’s high hopes for a successful outcome while sensing a hint of frustration and a touch of embarrassment in case all efforts were a flop.

But the strangest thing was, despite all my delusions regarding the culinary arts, every time I felt like I was in that imaginary kitchen the dish I was waiting for was neither secret nor elaborated. It was in fact quite simple. It was popcorn. Yes, good old popcorn…

And the reason for such feeling was equally simple: like making popcorn from scratch, couple’s infertility had a very unpredictable outcome. Like pregnancy, some kernels will pop early into beautiful flakes, some will take a bit longer in the heat and some will simply burn-out.  Like in human reproduction efforts, the ingredients and the basic processes for the formula to work were well known, but it was the quality of the ingredients and the effectiveness of its mixing that made all the difference. The “recipe”, in both cases, was straightforward and known for centuries, offering the comfort of predictability to the ones falling on the right side of the statistic charts. Unfortunately for me, such predictability was never a guarantee for success.

As I clocked more thinking time in those couches and chairs, the theory of similarity between popcorn and couple’s infertility grew in me. For example, I could be sure that people dealing with infertility and popcorn kernels behaved alike…  In the pan that I saw in every clinic’s waiting room, I begun to identify similarities. Just like the many types of kernels available, I could spot different types of couples and individuals, clustering them in unique segments for my covert “analysis”. I would easily detect the over-enthusiastic bunch, those talking a bit too loud for the environment, cheering occasionally and demonstrating way too much confidence for being there… The ones that gave me the never fulfilled urge to clarify that we were not at Starbucks and that they were about to undergo the same processes I would, so there was really no point in being so brash about it. On the other hand, the coy ones were also easy to find… They would hardly make eye contact, looking either shy or embarrassed for being there. Those were the ones that were there for the first time or that have been there too many times. Either way, those couches never felt comfortable to them. Finally, there were the “normal” ones. The ones that actually seemed to understand themselves and the reasons why they were there, behaving quite elegantly under the circumstances by showing a mix of comfort, awareness and apprehension that strangely made sense.

In my wild imaginary analysis, would it mean that the kernel of the brash ones would pop early? Or would the unassuming and embarrassed ones be lucky? What about the calm and collected normal people? Impossible to tell, as I would wake-up from my fantasy unable to find any correlation between the clinics, the Doctor, my wife, the kitchen and the popcorn… The only thing I was sure about was that at some point, during our long journey through infertility, I too have been over-enthusiastic, coy and normal, depending how hot the pan was.

Now, when I am not lost in my thoughts at the waiting room, I like to think I am just a regular guy, waiting for our kernel to pop early and trying not to burn the oil in the process.

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