We recently did an Instagram LIVE with founder of Baby Quest Foundation, Pamela Hirsch. Many years ago, Pamela set up a non-profit charity to help people in the USA obtain grants, if they can’t afford fertility treatments in the USA, win grants. She started this after watching and experiencing her own daughter go through failed IVF cycles, miscarriages and surrogacy. Read below the personal stories of people who have benefited from these generous grants, not just financially but because they wouldn’t be parents without this possibility. You can apply for the next grant below.
Over to Pamela Cohen Hirsch, Founder of Baby Quest Foundation…
www.babyquestfoundation.org | @babyquestgrants
Recently, when waiting at a corner for a light to change, I found myself next to an obviously pregnant young woman. When we exchanged glances, I kept quiet and smiled. What I really wanted to do was ask her, “Did you get pregnant naturally?”
That might seem like a strange question, but when you have four granddaughters (one via IVF, two carried by surrogates and one a very unexpected, lovely surprise) and you started a charity for those battling infertility, you forget that for most people pregnancy happens – without a costly price tag.
Baby Quest Foundation was “born” because of our younger daughter’s lengthy struggle to conceive. Understanding the expense, frustration and despair caused by infertility introduced me to an ever-growing passion – a non-profit charity to help those whose lack of finances is yet another obstacle to having a family, beyond the physical necessity for assisted reproduction. There are now 126 grant recipients. Their journeys are as varied as the people they are – diverse by ethnicity, sexual orientation, geography, and physical issue preventing conception. Here are just a few of their stories.
Related Article – ‘Social Infertility’ – I didn’t Choose to be Gay
Simone And Antonio
Infertility was never something that had crossed our minds. For the first year after going off birth control, my cycles were very irregular. Within six months, we were concerned and consulted a fertility specialist. After a year, my cycles began to normalise, but we discovered Antonio had a low sperm count. We were told that our best chances were for Antonio to do a sperm extraction surgery (micro-TESE) paired with IVF. Because these two procedures are very expensive and were not covered by insurance, it appeared that our chance of conceiving a child would be delayed for several years. Male factor infertility seemed an even more isolating issue than female infertility. We hid this part of our lives from those closest to us but also struggled to communicate our fears and concerns between the two of us.
Through research, we came across Baby Quest Foundation. Receiving the news that we were selected as December 2017 recipients felt like a breath of fresh air. It gave us both a sense of hope and helped us realise just how much we had been holding back from each other. In May 2018, as Antonio woke up from a four-hour procedure, we were told the doctors were unable to find any sperm. While this news felt devastating, we had spent months preparing for this possibility. Our primary focus became the fact that he would be there throughout the stages of pregnancy and from the moment of birth.
Related Article – Male Factor Infertility – Azoospermia and Micro-TESE
In February 2019, we welcomed not one but two amazing girls into our lives. Antonio was present at every prenatal appointment. He cares for our daughters like any incredible father would. I can never pretend to understand how it feels to not share DNA with my children. However, I will always value having a husband who has, in just a few months, already been more present in our daughters’ lives than any blood male relative that I have ever witnessed.
In order to work through male infertility, our definition of what it meant to be a father had to shift. We had always assumed that shared DNA was the easiest and most expected part of fatherhood. There are so many more responsibilities and commitments that expand far beyond genetics and the most critical is that they all involve a choice. Without Antonio’s decision to actively participate as the incredible father he has already proven to be, there would be so much missing from what we now consider the most crucial aspects of fatherhood.
Mabel And David
I was diagnosed with “early ovarian failure” in September 2012. I was 35 years old. After a battery of tests, I became pregnant with our 1 in a million baby, but we lost her at 12 weeks and our hearts were broken. At that point, with my low numbers, our only option was IVF with egg donor. This was a very difficult reality for me. I wrestled with it for a few years. I saw a therapist who specializes in therapy for those navigating fertility issues.
Related Article – IVF with Donor Eggs – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask a Mother via Egg Donation
After a while, I was ready to look at donors. In the process, I found Baby Quest and applied. We were with our therapist when we got the email saying we were finalists. That was the best feeling and the push we needed to jump in with both feet. In May 2016, we were selected as grant recipients.
Selecting a donor was a daunting task. We ended up with nine beautiful embryos that made it to freeze. Still, nothing was easy. We had to cancel our transfer date so I could have surgery to clean out my “oven”. Finally, we transferred two of our “embabies.” Then came the ever stressful two week wait and…wow..I was pregnant! At our first ultrasound, we discovered that both babies had decided to get cozy. We were overjoyed.
Now the hard part was over, right? My doctor did an amazing job of telling me what to expect with a multiple pregnancy at my age. My first trimester was a breeze. Other than wanting to sleep and eat all the time, I was fine. At week 20, our scans were perfect and all was progressing well. A few days later, my babies decided they wanted to escape. We were in the hospital for 2 weeks – two of the scariest weeks of my life…. full bedrest, medicines, monitoring and a cerclage. Finally, I was able to go home and spend the rest of my pregnancy on bedrest- NOT what I had envisioned!
My husband and mom were there for me the entire time. At week 28, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but we were able to keep it under control. We make it to 29 weeks and 5 days at home. The babies were impatient again. After a few days of stalling, they had enough and were born via C-section at 30 weeks and 1 day. Both boys came out screaming loudly, and it was the most beautiful noise I have ever heard. We spent 58 very long days in NICU before we were home as a new party of four.
Trying to conceive to have our family was not the easiest, but I would not change a thing. We have our two beautiful boys. I truly believe these are the babies we were meant to have and I am forever grateful for our journey and everyone that was a part of it.
Lyndsey And Patrick
Simply put, I want to be a mom; my husband wants to be a dad. I always dreamed of being a mother one day and that feeling continues to grow. Never did it cross my mind at thirty years old, I would be struggling to conceive. Shortly after getting married, my husband and I would be faced with infertility and all the physical, financial, and emotional stress attached with it.
For the past ten years I have worked as a Registered Nurse. My primary focus is giving exceptional care to all my patients, treating each one as if they are my own family member. My husband, Patrick, was diagnosed with type one diabetes at ten years old, but this has not slowed him down. In addition to his job in finance, Patrick spends time coaching youth hockey and volunteering with juvenile diabetes patients.
Everyone talks about the first year of marriage being difficult. Add in fertility issues for two individuals who both have dreamed of being parents one day, and it heaps on yet another layer of unplanned stress. We have managed to take it day by day and feel that this unplanned struggle has made us an even stronger couple. Neither of us would have been able to make it through the ups and downs of our infertility journey without the amount of love for each other.
Related Article – ‘Infertility Counselling – 10 Ways an Infertility Counsellor Can Help Through Infertility Trauma’
Recently, Lyndsey and Patrick became Baby Quest grant recipients, and they will soon undergo IVF using an egg donor.
These stories are typical of the many who struggle with infertility – whether it be recurrent pregnancy loss, male factor infertility, diminished ovarian reserve, or – perhaps the most frustrating – unexplained infertility. It is a club of one in eight who seek fertility help trying to conceive – a club in which no one wants membership.
Related Article – Are my Eggs Diminishing in Number, as I Approach 35?
Baby Quest cannot promise our recipients a child. We can only grant the “opportunity” to proceed with treatment – the financial support necessary to pay the clinic, pharmacy, genetic company, egg donor company, surrogacy agency, or whatever component it takes to “make a baby.”
I will never know if that pregnant woman on the street corner conceived naturally or not. I just know that, unfortunately, for so many it takes more than the “natural way” to create a family.
Baby Quest Foundation is a 501 c (3) non-profit. Since 2012, the charity has awarded grants totalling $2.1 million. There are now 93 Baby Quest babies plus 9 pregnancies. Applicants must be permanent residents of the United States. For complete information, visit: babyquestfoundation.org
For more fertility grants, visit IVF Authority here.