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    The Baby Dilemma: Hope in a Tank


    That was until I attended the mandatory class that taught two other freezers and me how to administer the twice-daily hormone shots we’d need for more than a week. When the nurse saw me eye a needle big enough to spear a lamb kebab, she giggled and explained it was simply to mix some of the meds that came in powder form with water. We would inject with a thinner, shorter one that barely hurt. Right.

    Even though these were serious drugs, I didn’t want to think about concerns I’d heard that they might raise my risk of getting cancer. I was more concerned about the effects on my mood. I’m so sensitive to hormonal shifts that when I switched birth-control pills last year, I collapsed in tears on my boyfriend’s floor because I had forgotten my face cream. I had no idea how I would react to this hormonal typhoon or to the side effects of breast tenderness, bloating, and irritability. I was told I probably wouldn’t feel like having sex, and I couldn’t drink to take the edge off — or go for a run, lest I jiggle my ballooning ovaries too much.

    Three days after the start of my next period, I began giving myself the injections. I grabbed some belly fat, wiped it with alcohol, clenched my teeth, and jabbed. The needle sank in smoothly, as if entering a hunk of cheddar. It hurt a little, but it was bearable.

    But there was still another hurdle. I had to wait three days to see if the drugs were activating follicles that would produce eggs. I bit my lip as Mukherjee inserted the ultrasound probe. Show me some eggs! I thought. I studied the monitor and saw that the chocolate chips had grown into dark cherry orbs. “I see six on this side and six on that one,” he said, satisfied. “See you in a couple days.”

    “That’s it?” I blurted. I felt relieved and crushed at the same time. I had wanted to stash away a couple dozen — enough for lots of chances, and maybe even a family of four. “That’s normal for your age,” he said. “I was expecting anywhere from eight to 12.”

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