In 2012, shortly after their wedding day, Jake Anderson and Deborah Bialis hoped to start a family. Because Deborah had a history of ovarian cysts, the couple decided to pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“We pursued IVF because if one of my cysts ruptured, it could damage my chances of becoming a biological mother,” says Bialis.
Like many couples facing fertility challenges, Jake and Deborah sought the advice of a fertility doctor and were told that they were excellent candidates for IVF and embryo freezing. But when the first cycle was cancelled due to a medical oversight, the couple became understandably discouraged.
“We decided to go to another clinic and our new doctor reassured us that we had an excellent chance of having a baby via IVF,” Bialis explains. “We felt hopeful, again.”
But, Deborah and Jake were shocked when their second round of IVF didn’t produce any embryos.
“We were in a crisis,” Anderson tells Babble.
As young and healthy adults, they never imagined that getting pregnant would be so difficult. But after two rounds of unsuccessful IVF, they were heartbroken and, like so many couples who struggle with infertility, worried that their dreams of parenthood might never come to fruition. After months of treatment, the couple wasn’t any closer to having a baby.
“Our fertility was crashing before our eyes and it was devastating,” says Anderson.
In the meantime, the cost of medical tests, hormone injections, blood draws, and fertility treatments were mounting, and before they knew it, the couple had $75,000 of medical bills to pay.
Deborah and Jake were filled with grief, because they never imagined they would face infertility. They were also confused because their doctors had given them so many mixed messages.
“We realized that there’s a broad range of opinions and different types of medical care when it comes to treating infertility,” says Anderson. “Much of the information that clinics provide, such as IVF success rates are reported by the doctors, but we saw a need for information that’s patient-driven.”
Their personal experience inspired them to create FertilityIQ, a website where infertile couples, families, and women can find comprehensive information about fertility doctors, IVF clinics, and medical procedures such as genetic testing and egg-freezing. Similar to Consumer Reports, patients provide reviews of their doctors and fertility clinics as a way to share information with others.
FertilityIQ launched a little over a year ago. And this month, in honor of Infertility Awareness Month (and to celebrate their son’s first birthday), Jake and Deborah are giving away a free cycle of IVF to another couple in need.
“After years of infertility, we were finally blessed with a baby, and we want to help make someone else’s dreams come true, too,” says Bialis. “We hope that our gift will lighten the financial burden that IVF brings.”