Silence. Utterly awkward, tense silence. Tap, tap, tap. That’s my foot. Yawn. Hmmm, how many flowers are in that vase over there? One, two, three, four—

“Zehava?” I scramble to gather my things together, and eagerly get out of my chair to follow the perky nurse.

The scene above is one I have encountered at every reproductive endocrinologist’s (infertility specialist’s) office I have been to. My journey thus far has introduced me to five different specialists. (I know!) They have been in varied locations, of various sizes and prestige. However, one thing remains the same no matter what: the awkward silence that prevails in the waiting room.

The only sounds one can hear are the secretary tapping at the computer keys, the soft whisper of a magazine page being turned, or the Silence. Utterly awkward, tense silence.names called of the patients blessed to be next.

Women—and on occasion, their husbands—sit frozen, staring straight ahead, almost like they have convinced themselves that if they don’t move, others will not be able to see them.

Now, “So what?” you might say.

Well, I happen to be a naturally curious and outgoing individual. So, I always look around for a kind face when I sit down, for someone who might share my interest in transforming the morgue of an office into a regular waiting room.

At my current doctor’s office, the secretary and nurses are all lovely individuals, and I cannot even begin to describe how this has altered my journey. I get a cheerful “Good morning!” each time I come in. If I am not in the mood of talking, I plug my headphones in and blissfully listen to my music. After all, at 7 AM, I am human, or inhuman, actually.

But most times we chat, schmoozing and in general having a grand old time. Many times other patients join in, and a sense of camaraderie is born. My husband repeatedly tells me how much I have changed since I was blessed to switch to my current doctor a year ago. I come home each time I go as myself, not some miserable monster.

One day, as I drove on the highway, I was bored, and my mind began to wander. As I drove, I looked at the cars I was passing and envisioned what the people inside were like, where they were heading, and so on. It amazed me how each car had its own little story being played out within, and how it was almost like watching short, silent movies. What struck me as an even weirder thought was that even though each one of the cars had its own story and destination, for this stretch of the road, at least, we were all heading in the same direction. We were all experiencing the same bumps and turns. Sure, some went faster, while some traveled in greater luxury than others. Some had the windows rolled down with music blaring, while others were having a world war right there in the car. The scenery constantly changed as cars got off at the exits they needed, until eventually I did too.

This scene struck me as interesting, because it is so much like what I see through my infertility journey. For the moments (read: hours) I am in my doctor’s office, all the women sitting in that room with me are sharing in my journey. We are all experiencing the same longing, the same pain. Sure, some of us go it alone, while some need support from many. Some experience For that short period of time, we are all in the same situationrelief and leave at the “first exit,” while others need to stay for miles and miles. Some deal with it better than others. But for that short period of time we are all in the same situation, and we are the only ones able to understand completely what infertility actually means.

So, why the tension? Why the silence? Why the embarrassment when I see someone I know at the doctor’s office? Why?

Yes, I understand you are bewildered. You don’t know why you need to experience this, while others seem to have trouble not getting pregnant. I understand you long for a child so much you can now understand the term “heartache.” You are aching. You are hurting. You are yearning.

But why the embarrassment?

You are not experiencing infertility as a result of the mistakes you have made. You are experiencing it because G‑d knows you can handle it, because He knows it will make you stronger. You have no choice but to be strong. You will crumble into tiny pieces at night, but wake up the next morning and head to work because you have to. You will prove yourself stronger than you have ever believed, and then prove that you can be even stronger than that.

This is just some of what I would tell you if you would look up and talk to me. Well, obviously not in the first few minutes. Because that would just be weird.