The woman at the cafe looked sideways at the pram trundling past, and I saw the flash in her eyes. Envy? Grief? It was similar to looks I'd seen on her before, handing in her form at the counter, waiting for her blood test. I remembered her sullen mumble of thanks - belated, like a nicety almost forgot, when the receptionist whispered her good luck on what must have been another beta day. Other times she'd just sat, distant, not bothering to suppress a sigh.

I wanted to say, "I know," and thereby take from her a little of the melancholy she so clearly overflows with. So I met her eyes, but she dropped them quickly away.

And in a second I'd moved on, unrecognised.

The embryologist was talking in a low voice to a couple in the hallway as I headed for the changing room. I heard him ask, "Have you had decent eggs in the past?"

"No, we've always had terrible eggs," the woman replied, and she seemed so composed.

"Ah," he responded, awkwardly, and, "Well."

And he glanced at me as I went by, and stalled a little til I passed out of earshot before continuing. "Well," he resumed, "the thing is..."

And I shut my change room door.

I started noticing her in May. Tall and slender, she was always seen in tailored trousers, a stylish button-up shirt with collar, and a neat jacket or knit jumper. Low, black leather heels, and a loose clasp around her long, reddish-brown hair. Poised and graceful. Confident and controlled. The expression on her delicate features meandering between polite, pleasant and blank.

When she hands in her forms, she always smiles. If she walks through the door ahead of you, she holds it. If you let her into the lift first, she bows her head modestly and treats you to a polite expression of gratitude. She is always alone, independent.

That day, I saw her once again, lining up for another embryo transfer. Not yet, then, I thought. Not for you, either.

As I went past into the theatre, she smiled politely at me.

"The girl next to you in recovery was so young," my mother said, as we left the hospital.

I knew the one. She'd been there with her mother, too.
"They were freezing her eggs," I replied. "They got forty-nine, and forty-five were mature. They froze all the mature ones."

"So that's different from what you had?"

"They froze our embryos. The success rate is much higher."

"So why freeze eggs?"

"Because you have no sperm to make embryos out of, usually."

"But why would you be doing IVF at such a young age if you had no sperm? Oh. You don't think...?"

I shrugged. "I don't know her story." There was a pause.

"You don't think she'll get OHSS like you had, do you?"

"I don't know." Probably.

"She seemed in so much pain, Bea." I nodded.

I remember her telling the nurse, through tears. I remember her limping to seated recovery, heat pack held against her swollen abdomen. I remember her baby face - barely twenty. And her mum, stroking her brow, helping her home.

We held the lift for her.


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Bea...

Serenity said...

Beautiful post.

lola said...

brought tears to my eyes...

beagle said...

So true.

Anonymous said...

"I wanted to say, 'I know,' and thereby take from her a little of the meloncholy she so clearly overflows with."

Beautiful and so touching.

Can I arrange to run into you after my next doctor's appointment? :-)

Lut C. said...

In a way it's odd that we reach out over the internet, but it's much more difficult to do the same in real life. It's normal, polite reservedness and all, but still odd if you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Really nice and touching post.

Hopeful Mother said...

Very touching. I think we have all been "you" and we have been "the girl next to you." Such a helpless feeling on both sides.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just "be" without these shared experiences...?

You are so very thoughtful, Bea.

ColourYourWorld said...



Unknown said...

Wouldn't you just love to hand out business cards with the blog names of all the IFers? Just wondering if those other people have any kind of support always makes me sad. I know what a blessing this outlet has been for me.
But I honestly don't know if I would be able to talk to someone in person. I guess because even though you think you know, you really don't know what their state of mind is.
Wonderful post.......

Mel said...

Very lovely post Bea. I was in tears.

Thalia said...

I always want to reach out and say something, too, but I never do.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, that post made me ache a little.


Geohde said...


Thank you for writing this, even if is such a heart-acher.



Anonymous said...

Whomever picked this one did a great job. I love this post. So beautifully does it describe that kind of sensitivity among infertiles. We do not have to speak with our words, it's an unspoken language that conveys our deepest feelings for each other.

Sarah said...

oh wow, i'm so glad i decided to do some linking around this morning and came across this. really beautiful.

Kami said...

Wow. It makes me wish we all connected with each other just a little bit more.

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