D ear Acquaintance, I see you sometimes at the clinic. I want to smile and say good morning, but you always look away.

I know it’s hard. It’s a fertility clinic after all; no one wants to be here. But why do you make it harder for me — and for you?

I wonder if you were behind the phone call I received yesterday. “Hello,” said the receptionist. “Someone from your community is coming for an appointment just before you. Do you want to change your timing?”

“What?” I exclaimed. “Why?”

“Because they said they don’t like meeting people from the community when they come, and we were wondering if it also bothered you.”

“I’m totally fine with it,” I told her, “and I’ll keep my slot because that’s the timing that works for me.”

I actually like meeting fellow Yidden at the clinic. It’s in the heart of a secular city and is such a cold, sterile environment. Seeing you makes me feel more comfortable there.

But when you ignore me and look away as soon as I walk in, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, as if going to a fertility clinic is something to be embarrassed about. Why is doing everything I can to bring a Jewish child into the world something I need to keep under wraps? No, I don’t tell just anyone that I’m going for treatment — it’s nobody’s business. But it doesn’t have to be the biggest secret either.

You obviously don’t agree with my approach. Yet I can’t help but feel that you’re making this whole nisayon so much harder. You’re making each appointment into an issue. Not only do you need to deal with the treatments, you’re also expending energy worrying about meeting people, agonizing over who will find out.

There’s a famous saying: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Yes, Hashem gives us pain, He gives us challenges. When you add on the extra stress of worrying about what people are thinking — or might be thinking — you turn this into an experience of suffering.

You seem to feel that being here says something negative about you. But this is simply the nisayon Hashem gave you and me and other people He felt could handle it and grow from it. To shy away from the reality, and feel shame that we’re doing the hishtadlus Hashem wants us to do, makes it personal in a way it’s not meant to be.

And please keep in mind that everyone you meet at this clinic is dealing with the same core challenge in one form or another. If we’re both here, then we certainly don’t have to be embarrassed of each other. We can even talk to one another. We can skirt the topic of infertility if you want. Or we could talk about it and give each other chizuk and support.

Next time we meet each other, let’s smile, let’s exchange a “Good morning,” and let’s schmooze. Maybe we can even take each other’s names and daven for one another, asking Hashem that we should both be able to stop coming here altogether.

Until then, hatzlachah with your treatments.

Sincerely,

Your Possible Friend at the Clinic 

 

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 570)