Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Purgatory for Parents-To-Be

by Will Wlizlo

Tags: parenting, reproductive therapy, The Morning News, Will Wlizlo,


If the waiting room at the doctor’s office is purgatory, then the process of diagnosis and—eventually, hopefully—recovery is hell.

In a frank and darkly funny essay, The Morning News’ Paul Ford chronicles the three years of reproductive therapy he and his wife endured on a the path to conception. Many of their experiences were downright absurd, as if they had been lifted directly from a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Ford recounts when nurses complimented his wife’s lucky socks, brightly adorned with monkeys or ninjas, while she was splayed out in stirrups. The awkward professionalism of his clinic’s sperm-collection rooms is epitomized by a bit of legalese: “If you read the paperwork,” Ford deadpans as he is about to hand-off his sperm sample to the nurse, “there is a request that you don’t make any jokes during this moment.” In a last ironic twist, on the morning his wife is supposed to get a minor surgery for in-vitro fertilization, Brooklyn is buried under two feet of snow.

The essay deftly captures the physical, psychological, and social frustrations of trying and waiting (and waiting and waiting) to conceive. “Three years of waiting,” Ford writes,

(Also: For its vivid detail, sardonic tone, and sense of personal violation, this essay reminded me of Thomas E. Kennedy’s 2007 award-winning essay, “I am Joe’s Prostate”, which was featured in New Letters [PDF excerpt only available online].)

Source: The Morning News 

Image by nerissa’s ring, licensed under Creative Commons.