The Night Of Hope: Thawed Embryos and Families to Build

Our daughter believes that babies come from refrigerators in New Jersey. That’s not because we haven’t had the courage to tell her the truth about the bird and bees because she is 9 years old. It’s because in her case, it is true.

Our little beautiful Elliana was our last hope for a biological child. She was conceived a month after 9/11 across the river from the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. The doctors had given us the option to freeze her and a sibling, but didn’t hold out much hope that the little “tier 2” embryos would have the same shot as the superstar fresh embryos that we transferred instead.

We had already maxed out credit cards and equity lines to make that one month trip to New Jersey to take one last shot after more than 11 embryo transfers had failed, at a financial expense of $70,000 and an emotional expense that was often unbearable. The thought of having to return again if our fresh IVF failed made me cringe.

Lisa never wavered in her desire to see my eyes in our baby, even when that fresh IVF cycle failed to produced a positive pregnancy test. On October 2nd, I will look into the big brown eyes of our daughter as she enters the second day of her second decade (a fact my wife Lisa hates that I even say out loud) at the Night of Hope charity event for Resolve. We will be surrounded by people who are passionate about raising money to be a part of a relentless campaign to improve the quality and reach of support for fertility challenged aspiring parents all over the country.

Lisa and I had the good fortune to come across Resolve when it seemed that the baby making world was stacked against us. In the child free rooms of the support groups we heard stories of other couples grappling with the indignities of ultra sound wands and sperm samples, and the emotional landmines at holiday, birthday and christening events where the focal point was on the one thing that the universe seemed so reluctant to provide us with—a baby.

We found resources that were constantly updated with new research, success rates, and support events, and we have fostered friendships that last to this day. Many of the support group members realized their dream of parenthood with persistence, a flexible but focused that made it clear what they wanted, and an abundance of support from other group members.

Though we enjoy the blissful stressed out status of biological parents, there are new battles to be fought. I am very concerned by proposals that keep creeping into various state legislatures that could crush the hopes of fertility challenged patients by hampering how doctors assist them.

The Family Building Act is the perfect counter measure. A renowned reproductive endocrinologist told me that for women, having a baby is as essential to their being as breathing or eating. I almost took that possibility away from Lisa when I said “we’re through” after our fresh IVF failed ten years ago. I was being selfish. I didn’t want to keep trying. When I attended my nephew’s christening a few weeks after making our commitment to being child free, I got a horrible feeling in my gut.

I looked around a church filled with couples and their children glorying in the blessing of a baby’s baptism and entrance into life, and realized I was taking away any chance Lisa would have a moment like that.  With new found clarity, I promised we would never stop trying until we were reveling in the celebration of our own daughter’s christening. Two months after I made that promise, we celebrated our first ultra positive pregnancy test in over 2000 days of hoping and praying. Nine months later to the day, we held our newborn daughter.

For many infertile couples the hope that their future includes a happy end like our is overshadowed by the massive expenses involved in infertility treatments. Why, when infertility is considered a disability, is there not a unified political voice calling for the pain of this disability to be softened by a tax credit to offset the enormous expenses involved in ongoing infertility treatments?

The political powers that be are missing an incredible opportunity to cross the aisle and shake hands on something that could produce years and years of happiness for their constituents.

Democrats, staunch proponents of a woman’s right to choose, have an opportunity to expand the reach of choice as vocal proponents of a tax credit for infertility treatments for millions of women who choose to go down the difficult road of assisted reproduction to overcome physical challenges they face conceiving and growing a baby.

Republicans, staunch proponents of the right to life, would have the opportunity to support couples going to great medical lengths to bring life into this world despite the pain and emotional discomfort that these cycles often bring. So many couples ignore the ticking of their own biological clocks waiting to ensure they are financially sound and ready for parenting, only to find that time worked against them while they were trying to do the ‘responsible” thing, and their financial resources are being depleted quickly in the absence of a fertility expense tax credit.

The Family Building Act could be the first truly bipartisan effort that the Republicans and Democrats embrace in the name of helping nearly eight million aspiring fertility challenged parents face the burdensome costs of fertility treatments.

That is something truly worth hoping for at this year’s Night of Hope.

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