We grew up in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Downingtown High School in 1997. We did not date, though, until later in our twenties. Zach was friends with my older brother, Tom, and with a teasing tone, we said he visited a lot, but mostly to check in and see who I was dating. After marrying, we lived a young couple’s lifestyle of going out, sleeping in, traveling, and being active without a worry in the world.
We decided it was time to have a baby two years into marriage, and after eight months of trying to conceive with no results, we consulted a fertility clinic. We tried a year of varied treatments before in vitro fertilization (IVF)) for the first time. When it didn’t work, we went back to other procedures, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), since our insurance covered the procedure and did not cover IVF. All proved unsuccessful.
We felt frustrated and hopeless at times. We began a journey of ups and downs to pursue the dream of a family with uncertainty about when it might happen for us. We became closer as we relied on each other with each heartbreaking disappointment.
Despite the emotional difficulty of being close to loved ones who had children, we felt supported and included in our lives. While we weren’t sure it was meant for us to be parents of our children, we found comfort in loving our nieces and nephews and in the love of our parents, siblings, and friends toward us.
After a time, we decided to go to the Shady Grove Fertility practice. We met Dr. Isaac Sasson, who said was very honest and open about what steps we needed to take for the best chance of becoming pregnant. We appreciated the genuine and authentic conversations he was willing to have with them. At the time, we didn’t know this relationship and respect would endure and make it possible for us to help others.
Sadly, there were still no immediate results with Dr. Sasson either. We did have a failed IVF treatment on our first try. After feeling defeated, we decided to take some time off and travel. We had many conversations about how children might not be in our future and tried to accept that scenario.
After a year of giving up, I told Zach that I needed to talk to him. He immediately replied, “You want to try another round of IVF, don’t you?” In our hearts, we felt we were meant to be parents. We called Dr. Sasson, saying we would like to do another IVF cycle. Finally, after one session, in the spring of 2016, I answered a phone call we always wanted to receive from Dr. Sasson telling me we were pregnant. I started shaking and could not believe I could take a pregnancy test after seven years, and as surreal as it would be, I could see it was positive. I immediately called Zach to relay the news, and he was ecstatic.
After a few years, we started to talk about another child. There were times when we felt so grateful for Evie that did we wanted to do this process again. In the end, we really wanted Evie to have a sibling. We chatted with Dr. Sasson and after a couple more tries we had our 2nd daughter Libby. We knew after having Libby our family was so complete and we felt so incredibly grateful!
We finally felt the joy of a complete family with the births of Evie and Libby. We wanted to find a way to support other couples suffering from infertility to have a chance for a family without the added financial stress or impossibility due to cost. We still felt very connected to Dr. Sasson and Shady Grove Fertility and, through an initiative with them, we began our non-profit organization, Fertility Dreams Foundation.
In September 2023, the Fertility Dreams Foundation held its inaugural kick-off and fundraising event at Whitford Country Club. Dr. Sasson attended and addressed the gathered crowd, who helped us raise over $20,000 toward their goal to aid a couple by covering the cost of an IVF treatment. But it’s only the beginning. We are working with Shady Grove Fertility to attend events, build awareness, and create a community where people can share their stories, get advice, and receive funds to help with the financial burden of treatments.
When asked for our advice for other couples struggling with infertility, we recommend finding the right doctor who feels like a true partner. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you are going through. While infertility is one of the toughest clubs to be in, it has wonderful members, so many people are willing to support one another. We are still touched and grateful for the continued love and support from family, friends, and neighbors who love us and our daughters. We offer this suggestion to others who know couples struggling with infertility: just ask them what they need. There are no magic words or gifts that truly help numb the pain. Knowing you have support and that they are there when you need them is (more helpful) than anything. Infertility is lonely and exhausting; sometimes nothing is okay, but knowing you have a tribe behind you is the best support you can receive from others.