The Infertility Waiting Room For Us Guys

One of the most stressful parts of our infertility journey was waiting for the all’s clear from the doctor after a surgery or egg extraction.

I always put on a show of strength to reassure Lisa everything would be okay, but the seconds and minutes between Lisa being knocked outword from the doctor that she was coming out of the fog felt longer every time.

I’ve posted a few paragraphs from the book that give a glimpse of what I was thinking in the waiting room when Lisa underwent a combo platter endometriosis surgery and GIFT procedure. 


I can’t get the vision of Paul Newman in The Verdict out of my head representing the family of a girl rendered a vegetable because of an incompetent nurse that left her after a surgery, oblivious to the vomit that filled her mask, choking off precious oxygen to her brain.

I sign the requisite waiver and acknowledgement form, consenting to the infinitesimally small possibility that something bad could happen to Lisa during this procedure.

Unasked questions run through my brain and I hold back the urge to verbalize them as Lisa lies on the gurney minutes from Dr. Mel commencing our six thousand dollar GIFT:  Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer.  It sounds like some Olympic event, but it is the last stop on the infertility procedure line before IVF Grand Central.

What if Dr. Mel nicks an organ while he’s shooting off his little Star Wars laser to get rid of the evil endometrial empire?  Hell, Luke’s buddies missed the first time they tried to blow up the Death Star.  Dr. Mel, being as old as he is, will be using a laser on a much smaller target.  I just have to believe the force will be with him.

I am attuned to Lisa’s breathing, the rise and fall of her chest, every blink of her eye.  I notice she keeps holding her breath whenever a doctor or nurse comes by to talk to her.  I squeeze her hand and try to get her to exhale as I whisper “silver white light” in my best Dr. Bergen (our infertility therapist) monotone. Dr. Mel bounces out of the O.R. decked out in his scrubs and smiles at me, assuring me he’ll take care of Lisa and she’ll be out in a jiffy.  I lean over and kiss Lisa on the lips, lingering just an extra moment.  The nurse wheels her away and she disappears behind white sterile doors.

This is the first time Lisa has undergone any kind of major medical procedure that I haven’t been in the room with her for.  In fact, I realize this is the first time since we lived in New York that Lisa has even been in a hospital.

The cooks at the Rainbow Room we both worked at in New York City’s Rockefeller Center had used some left over veal apparently one time too many when they prepared meals for the staff, and Lisa was wretching for about ten hours straight.  Her body was already bony and light from the never ending diets she was on to stay at the optimum weight for all of her modeling jobs. As I carried her into the emergency room, I noticed she felt lighter than ever, and had no control over her muscles as they shook uncontrollably.

She was severely dehydrated, and when the IV entered her veins she shivered. I hugged her and after a few minutes she stopped shaking.  She’d always told me I was a furnace, and I loved feeling her body calm down as a result of my holding her close to me.

I hate that I can’t be in the room with Lisa.  The flash of fear in her eyes tore at my heart as the nurse pushed her away from me.  I stifle the urge to feel pity for our situation, aware of the rubber bands that adorn my fingers reminding me to be thankful.  I’m thankful to have a woman like Lisa to love this deeply.  I silently pray to God.

A baby will be great, if You can make this all work.  But please, more than anything keep Lisa safe.  Be with her in that operating room, while I’m out here.

After about twenty minutes, Dr. Mel rushes out with his Charlie Chaplin duck walk, obviously eager to give me an update.

“Lisa is doing great Denny.  We had a little endometriosis that we zapped out and then we got twenty eggs and kept fourteen for freezing.  We put the rest into Lisa’s fallopian tubes with the rest of the sperm we didn’t use for embryos.  We’ll grow them in Petri dishes and freeze whatever we get.   Everything looks beautiful.  Lisa is already coming out of the anesthesia.  They should be wheeling her out to the front, so when the nurse gives you the sign, just drive your car up and pick  Lisa up to take her home.”

I thank Dr. Mel as he pats me on the shoulder and duck walks away.  I am warming up to him after working through my anger over all the failed IUI’s.   I sincerely hope this is the last time I get a pat on the back from him until Lisa is introducing him to our newborn.


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