No one ever tells you what it's going to feel like to walk into a fertility center.
They don't tell you, because you don't ask. And you don't ask , because your mom had you. Her mom had her.
Maybe you've heard of other women who've struggled, but that's them and you're you.
But if you're like me, you wish you'd asked. And you wish someone had told you. So I will tell you.
The room is going to be painted some awful color, like green or beige.
The television is going to be on, but the volume won't be loud enough for you to hear anything the CNN anchor is saying.
And there will be other couples there, sitting side by side.
Some will hold hands in solidarity. Others will ignore each other and stare at their phones, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.
At first, you'll be thankful for them. They're like you.
But be prepared, because after a few minutes, you're going to hate them. All of them. Because they are your greatest hope and greatest fear and you don't want to be like them, but there you are, sitting in the seat, waiting.
"Mr. and Mrs. Gibson?"
The nurse — heavyset with a big smile and hot-pink scrubs — will call you by your last name. She'll smile and lead you to a scale and ask if you'd like to take your boots off.
"No need to weigh those," she'll joke.
After she writes down a number, your husband will step on the scale, assuming it's his turn.
But she'll shoo him away, because no one is really interested in his weight anyway.
Then the nurse will leave the two of you in a small waiting room. There will be a desk. Somewhere in the room, there will be a plastic replica of a perfect female uterus.
A lot of time will go by, and you'll read an outdated issue of House Beautiful.
You'll inspect the plastic fallopian tubes on the uterus replica, wondering what in the hell is wrong with you that everyone else gets to be at work, when you have to be sitting in this goddamn office waiting.
Still waiting. And you'll see a red button near the door that says "Call for Nurse." You'll get up to press it, but your husband will try to stop you.
"We've been waiting for more than an hour," you'll say.
He will give in, let you press the button, but it will do nothing but light up like Rudolph's nose.
Don't be surprised if you press it a few extra times, just for good measure. Still, nothing will happen.
"Sorry," a different nurse will say, finally, when she pops her head into the doorway. This nurse will be skinny, with glasses. "Construction on the roads."
You'll groan. You'll wish you'd canceled the appointment, and though he won't say it out loud, your husband will wish you had too.
And just when you're ready to stand up and storm out of the clinic, the doctor will walk in, all smiles and apologies, holding a folder full of results and promises.
She'll be tall, with dark hair. Old enough to be trusted. She'll pull out your medical files and go through them page by page.
At first, you'll think she's thorough, but then you'll realize this is the first she's ever heard of your name.
And then she'll stack the papers together and invite you to take off your clothes from the waist down.
When she comes back in the room, you'll have a paper-thin sheet over your legs. The doctor will take a wand and cover it with lubricant and put it inside you and turn off the lights.
The screen will turn on, showing nothing. Black and white, and empty. And your husband will hold your hand, and though you're not alone, you will feel alone.
You will feel alone.