NCFF BOARD MEMBER
Employee Benefits Broker - InterWest Insurance Services, LLC
My decision to start the Northern California Fertility Foundation began after my family’s personal experience with infertility. The personal experience gave me the understanding of what is needed to go through this process but my experience attending the Infertility Support Group sparked the idea to start a foundation. Sarah Blofsky and Andrea Gleason (both committee members for the foundation) started a support group in January of 2016 so that people facing infertility had a place to go to share their stories and get feedback and hope from others in similar situations.
After hearing story after story of people who had tried and failed or were getting ready to try, I noticed a common theme. Most everyone seemed to be waiting to try again until they could save up the vast sums of money needed for the procedures. My wife and I had been in that same situation not long ago and were lucky enough to have family support to cover many of the costs we faced. After hearing these hold ups were due to money, I decided that this premise was unacceptable. For someone to wait to start their family because they can’t afford treatments that are rarely covered by insurance seemed crazy and that’s when I knew I had to figure out a way to help these people like my family helped us. It has taken some time to get here but I’m proud that we are officially accepting donations in the beginning of 2017 which will result in grants to families starting in early 2018!
My wife Monika and I were married January 1st, 2011 and later that year in September we unknowingly began a long journey into the world of infertility. We were ready to start our family and didn’t have any reason to believe we’d have any problems. I guess most couples who face fertility issues would fall into this situation as well. The story is familiar to those who have gone through it, month after month of negative pregnancy tests as the frustration and stress builds. It can be tough to watch all of your friends start having children when you’re struggling and you have no answers, even tougher when you don’t know anyone else facing fertility issues because this makes you feel very alone and like you are the only couple on the planet who can’t get pregnant.
In 2013, we started through the gauntlet of tests to determine what might be causing our issues. Test after test showed nothing abnormal and we couldn’t narrow down any reason why we weren’t having success. Later in 2013 a local doctor started my wife on Clomid which she took for 3 months with no success. Then 3 more months on Clomid with 3 attempts at IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). Still no success. At this point, we reached our breaking point, we were done, not destined to have children, we no longer wanted to endure the treatments, frustration, and sadness.
Enter the power of positive support. We discussed our decision with our families who understood our position but urged us to talk to other people and disconnect a bit from the medical portion of our issues and think about non-medical concerns and think about what we really wanted. This led us to a conversation with an amazing couple who have become some of our biggest supporters in our process. We learned through them what the process of going further is like. We heard their stories of failures and then ultimate success and after initially going to that meeting with them expecting to continue our reluctance to press on, we left with an overwhelming feeling of optimism and excitement. As much as our family has been a tremendous support system, I think this conversation was the ultimate turning point for us.
With this new found excitement and optimism, we marched on, first in the beginning of 2014 we selected a fertility treatment center and began the workup tests and doctor visits to prepare for our first round of IVF. The process for the first embryo transfer was more complicated and confusing than I had anticipated but luckily my wife Monika is a nurse so the medical terms and procedures were easy for her to understand. Once we were instructed on how the process works, they sent us on our way to start the prescription treatments. Monika was a trooper through this portion, the daily rounds of multiple shots (self-administered) looked like no fun at all but she powered through everything to get her body ready for the big day!
March of 2014, finally the egg retrieval day came and they were able to get plenty of good candidates for fertilization. The eggs were fertilized and we came back 5 days later for our first embryo transfer. Due to our young age and the fact that our infertility diagnosis was officially “unexplained” our doctor recommended transferring 1 embryo, we were on board with that. They selected the best embryo of the group and the transfer went off without a hitch. Everything in our world looked like it was about to change. A long week or so later, we found out looks can be deceiving when we received the bad news that the transfer was unsuccessful. Back into the tailspin we went with the rush of emotions and the same frustrations, doubt and stress immediately returning. We prepared for the bad news but we still weren’t ready for it.
We eventually decided that since we had plenty of embryos left, we would try one more time. This time, we were in the same situation as so many people we heard from in the support group, we had to wait until we could save enough money for the second attempt which ended up being in October 2014. This time we chose to transfer 2 embryos. Again, everything went well and we left with an optimistic but guarded outlook since we knew that this was far from a guarantee. A week or so later, we sat awaiting the results of the pregnancy test and finally received the call we’d been hoping for, the results are in, it’s positive!
We relished every minute of the next 9 months and went to every doctor appointment scared for bad news and left excited every time they told us it all looked great. Fast forward to July 2015 when we welcomed our son Nolan to the world. The wait and struggle was worth it, everything we had gone through seemed a distant memory. This was the best day of both of our lives and I started this foundation so we could help other people have the best day of their lives as well.
Now in the beginning of 2017, we have learned lately how little we still all know about infertility as we await the arrival of our second son due in June 2017. Remarkably, this pregnancy happened naturally with no medical assistance!
I’m extremely excited for this foundation to grow and to watch the joy it brings to hopeful families in our community. Thank you for checking us out and we appreciate any way you can help us on this journey.