In the IVF wing at New York Presbyterian Hospital there is a tiny waiting room. I’m not talking about the main waiting room where you sit around in thin gowns and overlarge tie-front pants, and no underwear, and striped robes that the first time I saw them I actually thought were kinda classy. No, this is the pre-operation waiting room. The waiting room that women are lead to, two or three at a time, to sit and wait for their retrieval, wearing hair nets and watching in equal parts horror and transfixion as previous drugged-up-subjects are wheeled out of the operating room on gurneys. In this waiting room there are several chairs, a small table, a hideous painting of a possibly European village, and one magazine.
I’m convinced that it’s been there since the dawn of time, but perhaps it has only been there since June 2015, since that is in fact the date on the front cover. Though at this point I’m rather dubious.
What I can tell you with absolute authority is that it has definitely been sitting there since January 2016. That’s when I first saw it while waiting for my 1st egg retrieval. I was a hot mess – anxious, clammy, slightly shaky – and so sitting there I thought, what the hell, let’s hear what Taylor Swift has to say.
And you know, I actually liked the girl? I’m not a Swift hater, I’m kind of ambivalent. Her music is catchy and fine, I like that she calls herself a feminist, but overall, whatever, I have no strong opinion. But sitting there, waiting for my eggs to be extracted from my ovaries via a long needle I was trying not to think about, I thought, you know what, Taylor Swift? You seem like a pretty swell gal.
I never finished reading her interview that month. But not to worry! I was soon back that February for my 2nd round of IVF…and had the chance to finish the read then. I was slightly less nervous, and slightly less impressed with Taylor at that point, though in all fairness that probably had nothing to do with her.
And then March rolled around and I went in for egg retrieval #3…and Taylor Swift was still there. Just sitting there on the little table, showing off in her stretchy, glittery outfit, flaunting her youth and svelte form and, let’s face it, in all likelihood flawless eggs. And at that point I thought, okay, this is getting ridiculous. “This magazine has been sitting here forever,” the woman next to me complained picking the magazine up and tossing it back on the table again. And I laughed and rolled my eyes and said, “I know!” all while thinking/praying to the universe, Never again will I see your spandex-clad body, Taylor Swift.
But then August rolled around and I went in for my 4th egg retrieval. And do you know who was sitting there, just waiting for me with her perfect wind-blown hair? Taylor Fucking Swift. She was still fucking there! Did the nurses not have the decency to at least throw us a bone and leave a New Yorker sitting around? Screw you, Taylor Swift, I thought. National Treasure my ass.
“I can’t believe this thing is still here,” I started to say to the other women who were sitting there with me. And then stopped myself. Because I knew for a fact that for each of them this was their first round of IVF. And did I want to admit that I had such knowledge? It would surely open up questions about how long Taylor Swift had been sitting there, and how many rounds of IVF I had done. Was I protecting them, not wanting them to feel concerned that their first rounds of IVF wouldn’t work? Was I protecting myself, not wanting to admit aloud that I was on round #4? Was I embarrassed that I was spending so much time and money on trying to have a baby? Did some part of me think that doing so was selfish? Or was I ashamed of how my body continued to fail me, and how I continued to not get the hint? Did I not want to be seen as some sad old hag who was basically on the verge of menopause and, who are we kidding, death?
Probably it was all of it. All I know is that I kept my mouth shut.
But I’ll tell you one thing. If I end up in that waiting room for round number 5 of IVF? And I catch one glimpse of that goddamned gold glittery jumpsuit? I am stealing Taylor Swift, and I can not be held responsible for what I do with her.