Since starting the meds for this IVF cycle, I've experienced several side effects that I expected (headaches, mood swings, bloating, a bruised belly, etc.), but also two that are completely unexpected. The first of these can be described as "nipples of fire". My breasts are not just tender, they are sore sore sore. I feel as if I had been riding on a bus with no shock absorbers for 12 hours on a poorly-maintained road in rural Guatemala without a bra (I did that once, not recommended.) And the nipples, oh lord the nipples. They are angry, no, FURIOUS about something. It's hard to know what is going on in their little heads, but they are bright red and send stabs of sharp pain coupled with a more general sense of irritation at me if anything brushes against them, even lightly, or whenever I move. Poor Mystery Man has been forbidden to so much as look at me between the neck and waist, lest they blind us both with their fearsome jets of fire. People talk about tenderness in their breasts while on progesterone, but I really wasn't expecting them to start up before retrieval! It figures that my body would find some new and bizarre way of inconveniencing me.
The other side effect is perhaps more worrisome. Hope has entered the building.
I went into this cycle assuming that it would fail. I don't mean that I don't want it to succeed, but I'm a logical person, and realize that a ~35% chance of success (my RE's estimate, although then she frowned and said "maybe a little less") means a 65% chance of failure. The whole time, I've been telling myself that we'd do at least 3 cycles, unless there was some cataclysmic sign of certain doom before then (no response to the meds, eggs coming out already scrambled, embryos immolating themselves in the dish as a form of protest, an eerie voice whispering "get OUT of the fertility clinic"). With a 35% chance of success in any one cycle, the chance of success across 3 cycles is a respectable 82%. I can live with those odds. However, as things have gone along, and the cycle hasn't been cancelled (yet), I've started to actually have a smidgen of hope that it might work. I don't mean that I've calculated a due date, or thought about names, or fantasized about an actual baby making an appearance on the other end, but I have at least considered the possiblility that I may actually see two lines on a stick at the end of it all.
Hope scares me. After 32 cycles all ending in failure, including three medicated IUI cycles, six post-lap cycles (my RE said I had an about 50% chance of getting pregnant once the mild endo was removed), and a lot of cycles in which I had hope for no apparent reason, I am thoroughly jaded. So, contemplating a different outcome after so much disappointment puts me into a very strange place. I honestly have no idea what I should do with this feeling. It's tempting to squash it like a bug, but I just don't know if I have the heart. Maybe I'll let it stay for a little while while I think about it.
Yesterday's scan showed at least 8 and probably 9 big follicles of approximately equal size, and a couple of smaller ones. I trigger this evening, and retrieval will be Tuesday morning.