I Quit the Fertility Clinic. Everyone Should Have So Much Control...


For those who want to get pregnant, it turns out waiting rooms are something out of a glossy sitcom. Swanky velvet seats and gold vases, HGTV bleating from screens, gleeful success stories tacked to walls. No protesters. No shame.

But reproduction is scary territory and so, to me, was this. A fear of waiting rooms is only natural.

I've never had an abortion. Quite the opposite. I can't seem to get pregnant. I turn 39 next month and have been married almost five years. We've tried to conceive on some level for the majority of that time. After a couple of years, I asked my OB-GYN for advice.

"How old are you, again?" she said, and immediately wrote a referral to a fertility clinic.

To the plush waiting room I went, alone thanks to COVID-19. We began tests. A transvaginal ultrasound to examine ovaries and eggs. An X-ray to check fallopian tubes. A uterine injection of high-contrast iodine. Blood draws and chemical analyses and video lessons about pricey genetic testing. Some pain.

After all that, the diagnosis was "unexplained infertility." The doctor recommended surgery to clear my uterus of an abundance of polyps. Insurance covered the procedure but not the expensive anesthesia, a maddening tease to the financial morass of American childbearing.


While I reclined half-awake on a recovery trolley, the doctor came in to talk about next steps. He quickly explained options: intrauterine insemination, medication and lastly, in vitro fertilization with no guarantee of success.

I felt like a sprocket on a factory belt, a line on a spreadsheet. I asked for time to think, and he looked a bit befuddled.

"By the time most people get to this point," he said, "they've made up their minds."

Ah, but I am excellent at avoidance, an A-plus student of compartmentalizing. Since that day last year, I've acted like none of it exists. I saw the road ahead, the injections, the egg retrieval, the embryo transfer, the tens of thousands of dollars, the cycles of devastation and I just... didn't want to. I didn't want to do any of it. I didn't want to.


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