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11/04/2003

Mighty, mighty

One aspect of the two-week wait after IVF drives women particularly crazy: the progesterone.

Most women are subjected to the nightly pleasure of a stab in the ass with a 1.5" 22 gauge needle. (For those of you unfamiliar with the gentle art of injection, that's roughly the length and diameter of a #2 pencil.) I, on the other hand, get off easy, with only the lowly progesterone suppository.

Our British friends call it a pessary, but that reminds me too much of a cassowary — the thought of shoving a large, flightless bird all up in my business makes me feel a little bit faint. I mean, would you look at the bony helmet on that thing?

So after that zoological digression, we'll stick with suppository. When I began my first IVF, I was worried about the progesterone injections; a friend had told me they were agonizing. Imagine my relief when the nurse told me I'd be inserting suppositories thrice daily instead. (And imagine, if you're feeling stout-hearted, the strangeness of being relieved by hearing the words, "suppository," "vagina," and "three times a day" in quick succession.)

Anyway, back to my original point, which I momentarily mislaid. Progesterone will make you crazy.

Its side effects mimic exactly those of early pregnancy — tender breasts, occasional nausea, slight uterine cramping — but also those of an impending period — bloating, depression, insatiable cravings for carbohydrates. But wait! There's more! At no extra charge, we'll throw in crippling constipation. Now how much would you pay?

At any point after embryo transfer, any physical sensation can easily be attributed to progesterone. You can think you're pregnant when you're not even close. Or you can think your period is imminent when you won't get another one for almost a year. In short, you're screwed; you can't count on a single one of your body's cues to tell you truly what's going on within.

In my case, the progesterone side effects swooped in overnight. I woke this morning with enormous breasts. Now, I am normally on the shapely side, which is a delicate way of saying I'm a brick...house. I am indeed mighty, mighty, but I do not dare to let it all hang out lest I destroy small villages with the devastating pendulum action of my breasts.

Today they are even bigger. Behold the majestic ProgesteRackTM! Look upon my breasts, ye mighty, and despair!

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