In June of 2013, Jeremy and Kia Roop, a young married couple in Maryland, did something brave by sharing their struggles of male and female infertility with a national audience in the Washington Post Magazine. The cover story titled, “For Men, Infertility Often Becomes a Private Heartache,” described how infertility, especially male infertility, is a battle couples often wage in the shadows. Nevertheless, at the time the article published, Kia and Jeremy had just welcomed their greatest joy, a son they called Judah Zion, which means, “Praise God in the Highest.”
Overcoming Male and Female Infertility
Statistics show that approximately 40 percent of infertility is female-related, 40 percent is male-related, leaving about 20 percent unexplained or a combination that involves male and female factors. For the Roops, sweethearts since high school who married in their early 20s, the journey to success was complicated by both Kia and Jeremy suffering from infertility. Jeremy told the Post his condition was “low and slow” meaning he has a low sperm count and decreased motility. Like most men, he wondered what he could have done differently—from avoiding soda to riding his bike less. Kia was diagnosed with endometriosis and a uterine malformation. With their combined conditions the Roops were given the devastating news that their chance of conceiving naturally was only 1 percent.
After surgery to reshape the uterus, Kia and Jeremy, who lived in Michigan and both worked as House Parents at a children’s home, began traveling for treatment. After investing significant funds for a single failed round of in vitro fertilization (IVF), Kia and Jeremy were devastated, exhausted, and still childless. A year later, the couple moved east to Maryland and discovered Shady Grove Fertility. They met with Jeanne E. O’Brien, M.D. (Rockville, MD) and learned about Shady Grove Fertility’s exclusive Shared Risk 100% Refund Program. The guarantee (take a baby home or SGF will refund 100% of your money) alleviated a lot of pressure and helped Kia and Jeremy feel more confident that they could realize their dreams of parenthood, as the program includes six IVF attempts plus frozen embryo transfers (FETs).
In spring 2013, the Roops’ dream of becoming parents came true with the birth of their sweet baby boy. Instantly, the new parents were struck with the realization that their journey through infertility was a powerful story and they could share their journey to educate their community and support others just like them going through the same experiences.“It’s extraordinary that Kia and Jeremy are willing to share their private fertility journey with others. Their bravery and compassion helps all couples with infertility deal with a very difficult and isolating disease,” says Dr. O’Brien.
Spreading the Message of Hope
The Roops are natural educators. Jeremy is a youth pastor and elementary school teacher. Kia has a degree in human services and is an active stay-at-home mom. In late 2014, as they began their second journey through infertility treatments, the Roops decided to take their activism to the next level. They would share their deeply private struggle openly as they were experiencing it.
With the goal to advocate and counsel those around them, many of whom suffered with infertility or knew couples who were suffering, Kia and Jeremy did what so many modern couples in the 21st century do: they took their message to YouTube. “The Roops and Downs of Life,” a vlog series, starts with their first visit back to Dr. O’Brien at the end of 2014. With four frozen embryos banked, the Roops share every step with the viewers. For the truly difficult moments—Kia’s ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage—Kia admits it can be hard to open up publically but people remained involved in a positive, supportive way.
The Roops’ friends, family, and community joined their fight against infertility in some extraordinary ways. Kia’s parents created t-shirts to help raise money for their second round of treatment, which opened more lines of communication about infertility. Jeremy says that through the process of sharing their journey and advocating for others facing infertility, “giving hope to others became who we are.”
Today, Kia, Jeremy, and Judah are preparing for the January arrival of a baby girl they plan on naming Lola Sapphira, which means “sorrow made beautiful.” Two embryos had been transferred in the spring and originally it looked like the Roops would be having twins. Sadly, shortly thereafter one of the heartbeats stopped. Lola Sapphira is a tribute to the struggles they have gone through and the beauty that has resulted. As for toddler Judah, he is enjoying each minute of his mom’s pregnancy. He knows his little sister is in his mom’s belly and every night he kisses her tummy and wishes the baby good night. Judah also helps Kia get little Lola’s room ready and after doctor visits when he sees his sister’s heartbeat he rushes to tell his father all about it.
The challenges and setbacks Kia and Jeremy have overcome are ones every member of the Shady Grove Fertility community can relate to. Their message, that we are all in it together, encourages everyone to never give up hope. By sharing their experiences Kia and Jeremy hope other members of our strong community will be empowered and feel the same support that has helped them.
2016 Update on the Roop Family
Last fall, Kia, Jeremy, and Judah were busy preparing for the arrival of a baby girl they planned on naming Lola Sapphira, which means “sorrow made beautiful.” Two embryos had been transferred in the spring of 2015 and originally it looked like the Roops would be having twins. Sadly, shortly thereafter one of the heartbeats stopped. Lola Sapphira is a tribute to the struggles they have gone through and the beauty that has resulted.
As for toddler Judah, he spent last year enjoying each minute of his mom’s pregnancy. He knew his little sister is in his mom’s belly and every night he kissed her tummy and wished the baby good night. Judah also helped Kia get little Lola’s room ready and after doctor visits when he saw his sister’s heartbeat he rushed to tell his father all about it.
On January 13, 2016, Lola Sapphira came into the world right on schedule. When Judah was introduced to Lola Sapphira for the first time, Jeremy placed him next to Kia, and secured Lola so Judah could be close to his mom and sister. At that moment, lovingly captured on the Roop’s vlog, the family is truly complete.
Shady Grove Fertility’s team of dedicated New Patient Liaisons is available to answer your questions regarding male and female infertility. Call 877-971-7755 or click to schedule an appointment.