April 20, 2021
Time to Talk About Infertility
Originally published by the Jewish News.
By Alexa and Ian Sachs
To speak about infertility is taboo. It always has been and probably always will be. This is why we are sharing our experience.
We have been happily married for five years and our story started out like many others. We met at a party, fell in love, got married and then, on demand, there was supposed to be a baby in the baby carriage — or so we are all told.
When we decided that it was the right time to start a family, we quickly realized that fate had different plans. Pregnancy did not come easy for us. We ran into many speed bumps along the way as we journeyed through fertility treatments. There were tests, biopsies, medications, remedies, surgeries and hundreds upon hundreds of needles. Cycle after cycle we found ourselves heartbroken. The experience was incomprehensible and it seemed like we were alone.
If you are in your late 20s and 30s, your Instagram feed probably looks much like ours. Lots of weddings and an endless reel of birth announcements, newborn photo shoots and baby milestones. Parents and baby are always happy and everyone’s life is perfect. If it were not, the posts would look different, right?
One failed intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization treatment after the next made checking social media unbearable. It was a constant reminder of what we did not and may never have.
We knew a handful of other couples who were also suffering “offline.” In fact, 1 out of 8 couples experiences infertility. Therefore, we made a vow to help others however we could. We started by sharing our own story publicly in the hopes that it might bring solace to other families who are quietly hurting behind closed doors.
As we continued to see posts and stories from our peers who were ostensibly smoothly sailing through their pregnancies, we felt compelled to speak about the uglier version of things that we had come to know — a conversation that isn’t usually newsfeed-worthy. During our second and third trimester, we became increasingly more emphatic about sharing our experience with infertility.
We were unable to conceive naturally, but were told early on that medical intervention could theoretically work. After many failed attempts trying the basics, we ended up going down the path of IVF. We then experienced a few more failed attempts due to a variety of different factors. Things continued to be discouraging as time passed. To increase our chances, we decided to transfer two embryos at the next available opportunity. Using two comes with its own set of risks, but this time it worked!
In July 2020, we received the best news of our lives. Our prayers were answered with not one, but two miracle babies. We didn’t know the genders until the day the babies arrived on February 10, 2021. We had a beautiful and healthy baby boy and girl. Being six weeks early, they had to remain in the neonatal intensive care unit for 20 and 33 days respectively, but that time eventually passed, and they are healthy and growing.
Although we felt like we had gone through our fair share of heartache, we recognize that our experience still does not hold a candle to others who spend five or 10 years trying, or to those who are never able to get pregnant at all. As overwhelmed as we were with joy and gratitude to finally be pregnant, the fear, dread and pain of infertility was never lost on us.
In addition to sharing our story, we also made the decision to help others with the biggest physical obstacle to infertility — the financial burden.
Undergoing fertility treatment takes not only an emotional, but also financial toll. You are never the driver on your journey to pregnancy. You are just a passenger hoping for the best outcome. Results are mostly precarious, and the trip requires a lot of money.
Treatment is costly and is typically not covered by health insurance. Couples often wait months, if not years, for a chance to become pregnant. Every passing day feels like an eternity for those who have gone through it.
We were fortunate in that we could focus on our relationship and ourselves at the time without worrying about the lingering question, “How are we going to pay for this?”
There are many families who are not only struggling to have a baby, but also do not have the means to pay for the various trials and treatments that lead to pregnancy. For those who are unfamiliar, these treatments can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
We recently started the Alexa and Ian Sachs Fertility Loan Fund through Jewish Free Loan for local Jewish couples to borrow money for fertility treatment — IUI, IVF and others — completely interest free for up to seven years. We hope that this loan eases the stress on families and provides some relief from the financial burden of facing infertility while allowing them to focus on starting their family.
The fund is designed to grow for many years to come with the hopes that we can all contribute to the birth of dozens of children in our community for posterity.
In reading this, we hope that telling our story has done one of two things. It has either made you more aware of infertility or it has inspired you to help those in our community either via our fund or a similar one. It can literally be the difference of a life.
If you or someone that you know is going through any of the above and could benefit from an additional outlet, we would love to connect. We have slowly come to learn that small and private communities do exist to provide emotional support, such as Fruitful founded by Chani Levertov right here in Greater Phoenix.
Infertility can be one of the most challenging journeys that life can throw at you and having the support of others makes all the difference. JN
Alexa Sachs is a marketing manager at FirstService Residential. Ian Sachs owns Risk Resource, a third-generation life insurance business in Greater Phoenix. They are the excited new parents of twins, Avery and Shia.