Oct 30, 2017

When IVF Fails: The End of the Journey

She Has Good Genes: A Journey to Motherhood Through Science, is coming to a close.
This will be my last post with this blog name.

At this point, I'm not sure I will blog again in the future, but if I do, it will be re-vamped to match my new life.

You see, IVF failed us.
Or rather, we failed it...however you want to look at it, we are ending the journey to make a baby through science.

Secret to most people we knew in real life, we ventured into another round of IVF this year.
Four days after my miscarriage with our miracle baby, I re-filled all of my IVF medications and consulted with the RE.

He thought that another attempt with an adjusted protocol would yield a better outcome, given all of our issues.

Armed with renewed hope, a therapist, a cabinet full of supplements, a book on egg quality, a whole lot of love, and a paid off credit card....we were ready.

Five months later, in May, we began.
I did another retrieval, which produced 11 eggs. 3 ended up making it to biopsy for testing, and out of those three, we again we left with one, perfect embryo.

Instead of hopping straight into a transfer, we let summer happen, along with all the fun and joy that goes along with it.

Our final transfer was scheduled for Friday, October 13th, a date I chose, hoping it would bring us luck, our rainbow baby, and our new future.

And boy, I was really, really sure it worked for about a week following transfer. I really felt pregnant again....and then it sort of...tapered off.  My instincts were confirmed when we found out I was, indeed, pregnant, but my beta numbers were so low the nurse was concerned, as was I.
Two days later, my numbers plummeted, and a week after my positive pregnancy test, I started miscarrying.


I opened the little letter the nurse wrote to us, when we asked to not know the gender, assuming we could have one of those fun little reveal parties in the coming months.

Another boy.
We had another follow-up consult with Dr. Jacobs, where he nervously beat around the bush at the reality that we already knew. Not once did he suggest we try again, unless those options included some sort of donor. Be it sperm, egg, or complete embryo.....our only chance for success at this point was to eliminate one of us.

But that has never, and will never, be in our hearts.
It was us, together, or nothing.

And perhaps that is selfish to some, but I can assure you I don't care.
If it's selfish to dedicate five solid years to trying to make one baby, then selfish we are.

What began as a question to why getting pregnant seemed difficult to us, quickly revealed an enormous list of hurdles to overcome.

Prior to starting IVF, I learned I had a luteal phase defect and low progesterone.
Mark learned he had sub-par swimmers, a result of genetics and lifestyle.
As we approached our first (cancelled) IUI, it was revealed we were a rare match for MCAD, leaving our hands tied to have a baby free from disease, by pursuing IVF.

During IVF I learned I had low AMH, high FSH, low antral follicle count and overall poor egg quality. Fragmentation and embryo abnormalities run rampant with this combination off issues.
Add to that our genetic match issues, and we were left with very few embryos to transfer.

Finally, we were on deck to pursue additional testing to confirm whether or not, should a pregnancy work, that my body was rejecting the baby. I already tested this once and it came back negative, but there are further, more invasive options, should we want to pursue them.

So, at this point, I am sure outsiders may be thinking...."well, it did work...it could work again! Just keep going with the testing and rule out everything and get back on that saddle and try, try, try again!"

And that is true. We can keep testing. Keep seeking answers. Keep digging.
Keep at this Pandora's box of endless technology and science until finally, FINALLY, I get and stay pregnant, have my miracle baby, and live the life I have dreamed about for five years.


But when this third transfer failed, and we were left staring at, well, nothing....the urge to keep going faded abruptly. I have always been the warrior to keep fighting the good fight, but this time, it was overwhelming.

To realize, that IVF has become this insane addiction for me. That immediately following the low of lows with a failed transfer, I want nothing more than to gain back that high of hope and happiness of all the possibilities that IVF could potentially bring to us.

IVF, infertility, and pregnancy have consumed my every thought, every dream, every-everything for five. solid. years. My life...every article I read, or blog, or magazine, or conversation with friends and family, or pill I swallow, or food I eat, or exercise, or lifestyle change....has all been for this phantom baby.

I don't even recognize myself some days. I have become this efficient IVF machine. I know exactly what to do to buy insurance, negotiate issues, seek out alternatives, and research. I can plan an entire cycle. I know the fertility clinics entire yearly retrieval and transfer calendar by heart.  I know exactly how I will respond to every medication, every poisonous injection. I know exactly how many days it takes to get to retrieval, to get the results, and to get to through transfer. I always knew my baby's due dates, and all the milestones along the way.

This is not the life I want to live anymore.

Mark and I had a very different conversation over the weekend. It was one where we take the leap to say no to future treatments. No to a future with any babies. No to this life I thought I was meant to live.

And it's the scariest thing I think I have ever said Yes to.

Not really getting pregnant and fighting in this struggle has been all I have known for five years. As fucked up as it is, it was comforting knowing exactly what I should expect, even when those expectations were dismal at best.

Sure, I found true joy in the in-between this year. I vowed not to let IVF consume my life, and on the outside, I succeeded. But I can guarantee you there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about it.

Sunday afternoon, I finally left the house to go to the grocery store. As I perused the aisles for nothing in particular (except wine, obviously) I realized how freeing it felt to just be able to go and buy whatever I wanted. That I didn't need to focus on fertility-friendly foods and drinks like every other trip entailed. As simple as that was....it felt like this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

In my haze of grief, I had written a novel to the doctor a couple days prior, outlining what I thought would work best for my body, should we try another round....damn well knowing it was all in vain.

Sunday evening, the doctor actually wrote back...and his words, although kind and understanding and agreeing with everything I asked for....broke me. I cried for another couple of hours because I just knew how silly it was to keep doing the same thing over and over, praying for different results.

Our lives will never move forward until we cut ties.

We are officially done with pursuing to grow our family with the addition of humans.

Please do not offer unsolicited advice about adoption, donors, second opinions, or anything else of that nature. Be a good friend and reach out to us or hang with us and let's talk about something else. That's what we are interested in. We are a united front in our decisions.

We are set on getting our life and our marriage back on track.
I have no idea what my purpose is at the moment. I thought it was to be a mom, but with the help of my husband, my therapist and family and friends, I will slowly come out of this fog of desperation and find a new purpose. One that is attainable and fulfilling.

Life must move on.
We have put a lot of things on hold while we tried for a baby, and it will be interesting and exciting to finally get the option to pursue some of those options, now that we have given ourselves permission to move away from this cycle of grief.

Will I have regrets?


I have surrendered my body and my mind to being the ultimate science experiment for five years. I have prodded myself with no less than 600 needles and spent countless hours in waiting rooms and doctor's offices, while they told me they found another hurdle, another issue, and I gladly obliged to do whatever it took to overcome it. I found strength with every shitty diagnosis, every failure, every negative, to keep going.  I know in my heart I can't keep going anymore.

We turned our lives upside down to bring a baby into this world, and enough is enough.

Regarding this blog, I don't know if I will ever write another post. I started this blog five years ago as a creative outlet, while waiting to conceive. And that time is over now, so the blog, in its current state, will be as well.

Those that follow me on Instagram. Most of you are avid TTC-ers, in the midst of your own journey's to motherhood. I understand if you un-follow me because my life will no longer revolve around baby-related stuff. Please understand if I un-follow you for the same reason.

Just because I am done with this portion of my life, does not mean that I am cold as ice. Seeing commercials and posts and milestones about a phantom baby that will never be mine will sting for a while. My healing will not be linear and I most certainly will curse the Heavens in the future for making this so difficult and making my heart hurt so much.

But life will go on. I will get better and find a renewed sense of self.
I am vowing to reconnect with those family and friends that I have pushed aside in recent years. I am vowing to get back to being the wife my husband married. I know the future will include many home renovations, travel, a lot of animals, and possibly early retirement.

And I am excited to watch it all unfold.

Thank you for following all these years. XO
Oct 27, 2017


My dad flew up our driveway, on the hunt for my mom, panicked, as always.
I watch him shuffle up to the front door as a I muttered under my breath...you have got to be shitting me.

Trying my best to keep my cool, I step onto the porch to greet him before the dog realizes he's there. I re-explained to him, for the millionth time, that she is not here, that I am not including myself in this chaos, to please calm down and relax, that there is nothing to worry about.

The conversation always goes the same way...I know, I'm sick. I need help...he will say.

I know Dad...I really hope you are making the appointments that you say you are and trying to get the help you need. I can't help you with this part. You need professionals.

Do you know where your mom is...my dad stutters again...as if he hadn't heard the last few minutes of our conversation.

I can feel my blood boiling.

Dad...you have to quit following her. She is a grown ass woman with her own life. Please, PLEASE make an effort to have your own life as well. Please find help. Please make the calls. Please see the doctors. You are ruining the dynamic of this family. You are making me crazy too!

I know. I'm sorry....his voice is pitiful as he retreats to his car.

I slam the door shut. And cry loudly.

Mark is swearing in the other room because he just plated dinner and it's getting cold.
He is frustrated because this chaos interrupts our lives very often.

I am buzzing.
After two weeks of antibiotics and what I thought was the right road to recovery, the floating feelings and dizzy spells were back.

I wipe my tears, compose myself, and meet Mark in the living room to eat dinner.
That night I have nightmares about the struggle I have been having with my family....for years.

The next morning, while driving to work, the all-too-familiar feeling of me losing control rises again.
The sweaty palms.
The tunnel vision.
The spinning.
The buzzing.
The choking feeling.

I am on the brink of another panic attack.
I try to talk myself through it, tell myself I am better than this. It's not a big deal.
But I find myself pulling off the road to gather my thoughts and breathe.

I can't live like this anymore.
I feel like I am dying sometimes.
I feel out of control...crazy...mad....insane.

I find myself back at the doctor's office that morning.

He tells me I am having panic attacks. I have extreme anxiety and sometimes this stuff just happens as we get into our 30's and 40's, especially after major, life-changing events.

Our minds start to do crazy things.

I have a family history, after all.
I suppose I shouldn't be overly surprised.

But the thought of being....medicated....that stigma, you know?
Like....who needs pills to live their life?

I do.
I need that to help with my life right now.

My emotions are either 0% or 1,000%.
There is no in-between.
I am on edge.
I am always pissy.
I am not a nice person. Overly snarky.
Not very warm or loving to Mark.
I have nightmares and night sweats.
I get overwhelmed with all I have to do, and all I have been through, and all that still needs to be done.

The doctor looks at me, and smiles, and says...if only you knew how many people were on this stuff, you'd be shocked. I would bet many, many of your friends are, and they just haven't said anything.

Well here I am....saying it.

I have started a new chapter in my life that includes a psychiatrist, therapist, and pills.

This village, if you will, has been helping me work through all of the shit that has built up over the years, including IVF, my miscarriage, my family, and, well....life.

It has all become too much for me.
For a while I resisted...because, you know, I have GOT to be stronger than succumbing to pills.

But I'm not right now.
And I'm slowly learning to be okay with help...after being so stubborn for so many years.

So after trial and error between a few different types of medications (I fell into the 1% that has an allergic reaction to the additives in some of the pills), I landed on a daily, low-dose of Lexapro.

And it gave me my life back.
I breathe more freely.
I let the little things slide.
I'm not so uptight with EVERY.THING.
I'm just....living.

And it feels good.
Thanks for reading. XO
Oct 20, 2017

When Self Care is More Than a Face Mask

Self care has become an incredibly trendy phrase in recent months, wouldn't you think?
And with good reason.
Human beings, especially women, SHOULD be taking more time to care for the person that cares for everyone and everything else. Themselves.

Women are hard-wired to care for everything else around them; be it inanimate objects, relationships, pets, careers, and other human beings.

I always thought self care meant making sure to try a new face mask or take a bubble bath every so often. To slow down and smell the damn roses you have been preening for months.

This year, I learned that self care means making myself a priority to stop pushing potentially bigger issues to the back-burner.

I had two sort of major scares pop up this year.

The first, when I found a lump in my breast. After months of putting off testing, hoping it would just go away, I finally sought treatment. After a painful biopsy and mammogram, the lump was indeed there, but benign.

Months later, after a trip to Madison on our boat, I started getting serious dizzy spells. Dizzy spells that doubled my vision and made it nearly impossible to drive. For weeks, I hoped the general floating feeling and fuzzy-brain feelings would go away. The symptoms would come and go, and I found that if my heart-rate jumped, or I was dealing with something that sparked my anxiety (which was constant), my symptoms would come back full-force. It became exhausting to keep trying to focus on busy patterns or be alert in crowded spaces, or even read sentences on a computer screen.

I went in to see the doctor, who gave me a thorough one-over complete with blood-work. Everything came back normal. Still desperate for an answer I headed in the following week for an MRI. The days in waiting for that procedure were tough. As much as I tried to keep a level-head, the worry and what-ifs would creep in every now and then. I wanted to cancel the appointment so bad, but I knew not knowing would be worse.

I asked to start a Z-pack after my labs came back normal...because what if all this fuzziness was just some sort of whacky sinus infection? I'm sure the doc thought it was a feeble attempt, but I was clinging to anything that would allow me to feel like a normal person again.

I finished the final pill the morning I headed in for my MRI. And to be honest, my head did feel a bit better. Not 100%...but a tad more tolerable, maybe...even if only a placebo effect.

You guys...have you ever had an MRI completed?
Not. Fun.
I knew I would be put in a metal hot dog bun for nearly an hour, but when the tech told me there would be loud banging, I thought she was joking.
That loud, repetitive banging, followed by deafening bouts of solid, loud humming was overwhelming. When the humming lasted for more then a couple minutes, I swear to Jebus it triggered whatever was going on in my head and forced a panic attack.

As someone who didn't know if she was claustrophobic or had serious anxiety problems...I sure as Hell found out that day. I am not claustrophobic. I do have anxiety.

I kept envisioning floating in the pool, with Burn, our Bulldog, lounging on the side. It was the only thing keeping me sane, because the country music in the background sure wasn't.

And the results? Not overly shocking.
The MRI came back normal. (praise the Lord!)

Shortly after the anxiety wore off from the MRI, I dealt with a sinus infection.

As my cold receded, I thought for sure...this was it.
It was over. I'll feel better in no time.

And I did, temporarily.
Because it was the weekend.

But the overall buzzing sensation?
Vision issues and panic attacks?
They came back with a fury.

I realized I had not been treating myself with the respect I deserve, with the self-care that is so important in life. I realized I had to stop putting myself on the back burner and take action.

It was more than a face mask and a glass of wine, that's for sure.
Stay tuned for what really happened.

Oct 13, 2017

Halloween Treats (without the hassle)

You folks know I'm a sucker for Halloween.
It is hands down my favorite Holiday.

And today is Friday the 13th, no less!!!

Anyways, I make a point to try an incorporate as much Halloween-goodness into the month as possible, without making myself crazy.

I have already been busy decorating a few areas of our home.
I love coming up with new ways to re-use all the decor I have collected over the years!

I also plan to make some treats for my office.
I found a couple quick recipes that you should totally try out.
They don't require ANY baking!

The first are these Mummy Pretzels.

Super simple to make.

Just break off some chunks of almond bark and microwave for 30 seconds at a time (stirring in between each round) until completely melted.
Dunk each mini-pretzel into the bark and lay on parchment paper to cool.
I melt more almond bark and pour into a ziploc baggy, snip a small corner of the bottom of the bag, and drizzle more almond bark over the cooled pretzels to give it the mummy look.
Before the bark is completely set, I place two edible googly eyes on the top "holes" of the pretzels.
Easy peasy!

Then I making these adorably spooky Bat Bites.

How to assemble:
The base is a mini Reese's peanut butter cup.
The wings are an Oreo Thin, cut in half. (I used a sharper knife to keep the edges crisp)
I affixed the wings and edible googly eyes onto the peanut butter cup using black piping gel.
Leave out to dry and you're all set!!

While I'm making these goodies, I like to have a Halloween-themed movie going in the background.
My go-to faves are Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

What are your favorite activities during this ghoulish season?
Thanks for reading!! XO
Oct 6, 2017

Morning Bath + Body Products for Infertility

In my quest to max out whatever eggs I have left in the ole' baby-making reserve, I started reading It Starts With the Egg.

There is a lot of knowledge within these pages, and I spent many months incorporating as many lifestyle changes as I could to try and yield the best possible results.

If you missed my post on the supplements I started taking to help egg quality, check it out HERE.

To be honest, this goes far beyond me and my struggles with IVF.
I'm sure we could ALL benefit from applying a few less chemicals, right?

The good book says that among the many ingredients on the back of the bottles of goop we apply to ourselves daily, many of them aren't so good for us.

Additives like parabens and phthalates are among the worst.
Their descriptions don't necessarily sound intimidating, but the damage far outweighs their benefits.

In regards to male and female infertility, both of these chemicals cause major hormone imbalances within the body, that can lead to poor ovarian quality and reserve, uterine disruption, abnormal fetal development, and even cancer.

And the worst part? These words are disguised as less angry words like fragrance and additives.
Sneaky, right?

Prior to me seeking out better alternatives, I used common brand-name products like Pantene, Noxema, Suave, Oil of Olay, Jergens, Aveda (yes, even this one has the bad chemicals), and the list goes on.

And I threw them all out.

Over the last 3/4 of a year I have searched out cleaner brands that don't bother my skin (sensitive and oily, HELLO!) or break the bank.

Here is my morning routine!

EO Lotion
For years I used only Jergens brand (you know, the cherry-scented almond), but it always seemed like I had to keep re-applying. My skin would always feel dry and itchy. Enter this beauty. The texture is light and smooth and I swear, even in the dead of winter, I only have to apply to my body once!
Bonus that this product does NOT test on animals, and you smell like the beach!

I use this African Black soap option since it literally reads problem skin on the label. That's me. I have combo oily and dry skin. This moisturizer goes on after a shower and before make-up. It helps mattify my T-Zone and leaves my skin feeling hydrated but not weighed down. 

Body Soap
This soap really is magic. There are a million other uses for it besides just soap, but right now I am using it as a body wash and shampoo. The light rose hemp smell is fresh, and the bottle lasts for-e-ver. In the summertime I switch to the peppermint option to cool off!

Shea Moisture brand has a million options and I love so many of them. The 10 in 1 renewal system has been excellent for me. It rinses away clean without any weird leftover residue. 

For the size of this bottle, it sure does last a long time. Again, all good ingredients, makes my hair feel super clean and silky, and after about a week's worth of use, I swear it feels thicker, which I could ALWAYS use.

I was nervous to make the switch as I have been burned before when attempting to try another face wash. My skin is just too sensitive. But this wash is just amazing. It's gentle even when I get it in my eyes (which is a daily occurrence) and leaves my face feeling clean, but not too try. 
Plus, a little goes a loooong way which is a huge bonus considering it's pricier than my $3 Noxema. 

Who doesn't love the smell of grapefruit? It reminds me of summer and I'm pretty sure we could all use a little bit more of that right now. I have two bottles, one for each bathroom. I also use the lemon scented one in the kitchen.

I hope you find some of these products to be as great as I have found them. I feel more calmer in my skin, which in turn, makes me less bitchy. And I'm sure the world is a better place because of it. :)

Thanks for reading. XO