Like many couples, my Husband and I live paycheck to paycheck. So when we were faced with the reality that our only chances of having a family would cost us thousands of dollars, we felt extremely defeated. Little did we know hope was on the way.
Dealing with the emotional aspects of infertility was enough of a burden. We started our marriage (in 2009) with strict instructions from the doctor that we needed to try to get pregnant immediately if we wanted a family. The possibility of infertility came at no surprise to me. At 16 years old, I lost my right ovary to an ovarian terratoma. Since 2008, my body has been through seven additional surgeries, a diagnosis of severe endometriosis, countless cysts and a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As you can imagine, these medical bills have put a great financial strain on us and on my credit. So how in the world would we ever be able to afford IUIs or IVF when our insurance provided zero fertility coverage? With each step in our journey, we were determined to find a way.
It is amazing how TTC (trying to conceive) can be taxing on your bank account even before seeking the help of a RE (reproductive endocrinologist). At least in our case, it was. I had lost my job of five years, leaving this entire financial burden on my Husband’s shoulders. Countless medications, multiple surgeries, doctor visits, and ultrasounds added up; and even those darn ovulation predictor monitors, test sticks and pregnancy tests were expensive. But hey, we would do anything to have a family and we figured that all of those costs would only help us prepare for the diapers that we were bound to be buying one of these days!
After the first two years of TTC, we were told that it was time to see an RE to help us get pregnant. Our insurance (like most) had zero coverage for anything related to fertility. The consultation alone was $350.00. We had just moved to California from Arizona and my Husband was able to find a good paying job, so we were able to put our whole focus on finally getting pregnant. Our RE was optimistic that IUIs would do the trick for us, so we moved forward and thought our dream was finally about to come true. Five failed IUI attempts later we were financially drained. We were told that IVF was our only option and financially that was way out of the question for us. We were crushed.
If you are anything like me, then you understand why I couldn’t give up. The desire to be a Mom was burning so bright, and I just knew we had to find a way. I started by bugging the insurance company to make sure that there wasn’t something we were missing. Of course, they wouldn’t cover anything. I then moved on to talking with our RE. I explained to her the details of our financial situation (probably more than she wanted to know) and I asked her what our options were. She told me that we could write a letter to their board of directors, and they would see what they could do about getting us a discount. To our surprise, we were approved for a discount. Though this was a huge blessing to us, we still had no idea how we would come up with the $7,000 (not including medications) that we would need to do an IVF.
After consulting Mr. Google and Pinterest for “financial help for IVF” we found that there were some options out there. We applied for IVF loans, but the best offer we had wanted us to pay a $380.00 a month payment with 30% interest. On to the next option! There is a website called GoFundMe.com where you can set up a fundraising page, but at the time, I was not ready to open up and share our story. Then I found that there are many non-profit companies that offered grants for fertility treatments. Depending on the organization, there are usually non-refundable application fees, and some are even state or clinical specific (check the fine print before applying). This could be a few months of waiting, and possibly a letter of regret that we weren’t approved and then we would be back at square one.
All the time I spent researching our options, I had this gnawing feeling inside that I needed to speak out and share our journey. With my latest health predicament, it is truly now or never for us to do IVF, so waiting around for months at a time, was not the best-case scenario for us. I took a chance and reached out to Alexis DelChiaro and felt like a crazy person when I asked her, “What would you do if the only thing that was stopping you from doing IVF was money? Would you do something like GoFundMe and ask people for help?” To my surprise, she graciously replied and said “I say do it girl! Anything it takes to be a Mom!” Finally, someone understood me! She gave me confirmation that day that I shouldn’t be afraid and that it was okay to not give up.
So what did I do? I emailed Alexis back after chickening out and told her we were going to apply for a grant and take our chances. I was too scared to ask for help and worried what other people might think of us. After the emotional toll that this infertility had put me through, I couldn’t handle any negative opinions. I also thought that there were too many people that needed help and I simply didn’t feel worthy. I cried on the phone to my sister and said that I needed to move on, but I didn’t know how. She very firmly replied to my tearful plea and said that I deserved to be a Mom and she never wanted to hear me say that I wasn’t worthy. Not 24 hours later, my sister called me and said to go online because she started a GoFundMe page in our honor and that it was time to share our story. My hands shook for the next 8 hours before I finally posted a blog about our journey.
Within 6 days, we have been extremely humbled at the miracles that are unfolding. Our friends, family and perfect strangers have donated and have brought us to 29% of our goal. The kindness that people have shown us (not just in donations) has been amazing. There are so many people behind us, praying for us and sharing our journey. Though we still have a ways to go, we are so incredibly thankful. I never would have thought that we would have gotten this close to our dream and all it took was a few amazing people along the way who encouraged me and pushed me to never give up.
Infertility can be such a dark and lonely journey and the hit to your bank account can make your situation feel that much more impossible. Infertility is something that has brought us heartache and grief…it has brought me shame and embarrassment that my body couldn’t do the one thing that it was made to do. Have children. No women should ever feel this shame because it isn’t your fault. No one chooses this heartache and you shouldn’t blame yourself. You are not alone in this! Be persistent and reach out for help. There are options out there; you just have to find the option that works for your situation. We know there is a possibility that we won’t raise enough money to do IVF, but I will know deep in my heart that we tried everything possible to make our dream come true. We are holding onto our Faith and believe that our story isn’t finished here. I hope sharing our journey gives you the hope to push forward, keep fighting and find a way to build the family you deserve. You never know what is right around the corner.