I sit in the waiting room, tapping my feet. I look around, and everything looks totally normal. Like any other doctor’s office. Another damn “fertility specialist” who is likely going to tell me what I’ve already heard from dozens of other doctors.
“You’re infertile. We’ve tried everything.”
They’ll sugar-coat it and look sad, but that’s always what they tell me. Always.
My friend—well, more like a sort of acquaintance—told me this place was different. She wouldn’t go into details. Her face burned red when I pressed her, but she told me to just say that I’d “consider all options.”
It sounded like some kind of code word. I imagine that when I say “all options” to the doctor, he’ll suddenly tell me about some new super-sperm technology—sperm that are guaranteed to hit their target.
I look up. “It’s Maddie.”
“Oh,” the nurse says, “I’ll make a note of that.”
She pencils something onto the clipboard, then gestures for me to go down the hallway. “This way.”
I follow her through the hallway, and she stops. “You’ll be here, in exam room eleven.”
The door is open, so I just step inside.
The paper cover crackles loudly in the room as I sit on top of the exam table. I wait and nervously tap my foot. I’m almost afraid to say the code word. Not because it will work, but because this is my last resort. There are no other options, I’ve already tried everything else. And I mean everything. What if I say it, and the doctor just shakes his head.
“I’m sorry, but there are no other options. You can’t have a baby, Maddie.”
I can hear it already.
There’s a knock at the door, and I mumble for whoever it is to come in.
The door creaks open and a woman with a tight bun steps inside.
“Hello Madri—Maddie,” she says, squinting at her clipboard. “I’m Dr. Blythe.”
I force a smile and look up at her. I almost shout the code word at her, but I know I have to go through the whole regular routine with her.
“You and your partner have—”
I cut her off. “No partner. I’ve been trying artificial insemination, and in vitro.”
I don’t have time for a partner. I want a child, not a husband. A child will stick with me and love me as much as I love him or her. A husband will leave me. Men always leave me.
“I see,” Dr. Blythe says.
She doesn’t seem to be judging me, but I always read too much into these fertility doctors’ voices.
“Well,” Dr. Blythe says, scanning my records. “You’ve tried a number of times, and you’ve seen some of the best doctors in the country.”
“We can run some tests, but I don’t see what it would achieve. I’ve got your records here, and it looks—I’m sorry to say—fairly conclusive.”
“It?” I ask, my voice on edge. “You mean my infertility?”
Dr. Blythe nods, pressing her lips together.
“Dr. Blythe,” I say, waiting for her to meet my eyes. “I’m ready to consider all options.”
“All options?” Dr. Blythe says, putting down the clipboard. “Are you sure you know what you’re asking?”
My friend didn’t tell me, but I pretend to know. “I know what I’m asking for. All options,” I say, as if repeating the code word will make it happen faster.
Dr. Blythe nods. “I know it seems... okay, it is ludicrous, isn’t it? There’s no reason it should work. None. As a doctor, I’d dismiss it out of hand.”
“Except?” I ask.
“Except it works,” Dr. Blythe says, smiling. “It worked for me.”
She reaches back and locks the door, then she sits down on the table right next to me. “You can’t tell anyone that I referred you. The only exception would be if you are referring a patient to us, one in a similar situation as yourself. I could get in really hot water if word got out that I recommend a service like this.”
Jesus. What are they going to do? Are they going to clone a baby and stick it into my barren womb?
I nod, pretending still that I know what the hell she’s talking about.
“I’m going to give you a phone number,” Dr. Blythe says. “It will only work for twenty-four hours. If you get cold feet and don’t call, it’s done. You’ve missed your chance. If you do call, just understand that it’s not going to be cheap.”
“Money isn’t an issue,” I say.
My business is thriving just as much as my love life is withering. Money is no object when it comes to having the baby I so desperately want.
“Good,” Dr. Blythe says, handing me the phone number. “I don’t know which one you’ll get... but I’ve heard they’re all good.”
I nearly grind my teeth together since I still don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. They? What are they good at? I’m terrified that if I ask her—if I let on that I don’t already know what all this entails exactly—that she’ll rip the chance away from me. That I’ll ruin my chance.
I nod and carefully slide the paper into an empty pocket in my purse. I zip it shut, then hold it close to my chest as if it were holding a bag of diamonds that I need to protect.
“Well,” Dr. Bylthe says, suddenly standing up and going cold. “I’m so sorry we couldn’t help you, Madrigal.”
She opens the door and gives me a knowing look. “There’s always adoption, I know it’s not the same but—”
“Thank you,” I say, trying to sound disappointed, but my heart is racing.
I rush out of the office and into my car, and I pull the number out and clutch my phone in my hand. I’m shaking.
I dial the number.