Zach and Tami Reardon of Nashville always dreamed of having a country home where they could raise a large family. But they discovered early in their marriage they both had physical issues affecting their fertility.
They spent years seeing specialists, going through treatments and surgeries, taking medications and hoping for a baby.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Zach, 33, about the journey for him and Tami, 32. They will have been married 10 years in October.
Sabrina and Jeremy Hunter of Columbus, married for six years, have been through the same emotional ride, trying desperately to find solutions to their infertility issues while struggling with the financial costs, which are not paid for by health insurance.
While the stresses can be difficult for many couples to handle, the Hunters and Reardons said they are in this together with their partners, no matter the outcome.
“In our situation, it brought us closer together. We understand each other’s feelings,” Sabrina said.
Ready to help others
The couples connected through the nonprofit Indiana Collaboration for Families with Infertility and its executive director, Macara Aloi of Carmel.
Tami and Sabrina determined that between the two of them, they had the personal experience, knowledge and compassion that might help other couples in similar situations.
They formed an infertility support group in Columbus that meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month in the conference room at Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. The next meeting will be Aug. 16.
“We want people to understand they don’t have to go through this alone,” said Sabrina, 32. “We can share resources, experiences … maybe we’ll hear about something someone is going through, and something will click. We can tell them about something that might help them.”
And for some, maybe they just need someone to talk to who has lived through the same frustrations. Statistics from Resolve: The National Infertility Association estimates that infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S.
“You just feel it’s your God-given right to have a baby, and you can’t believe that you’re having this problem,” Tami said. “Infertility is a very hard road. You can get very down and very angry.”
For Tami, a biology teacher at Columbus North High School, some days have been more emotional than others, especially when she would learn one of her teenage students was pregnant.
Sabrina also works in a job which finds her exactly where she wants to be, surrounded by children. She is a preschool teacher at Head Start.
But infertility is not just a woman’s problem, their husbands attest. Many days are challenging and emotionally trying for them as well.
Jeremy said he and Sabrina handle the challenges by always being there for each other, whether it’s recovering from surgery or the mood swings brought on by medication they hope will increase fertility.
“You just have to always be supportive of your spouse,” said Jeremy, 37, who works at Deckard Tool & Engineering in Hope. “I don’t know how anyone could get through this without it.”
Couples who attend the support group meetings can share their feelings and also learn such information as the latest research, where to find infertility specialists, cost estimates for treatments and adoption, and where to find reputable information online.
It helps to share
Even though Resolve estimates one in eight U.S. couples has issues with infertility, it’s a topic that many do not like to speak about or may feel uncomfortable sharing with others.
Aloi, who started the Indiana Collaboration for Families with Infertility after experiencing her own struggles, encourages those with infertility issues to seek out support even though some may see it as a taboo topic.
“There are many emotional and psychological effects, so you need to find a way to communicate,” Aloi said. “It can help reduce the stress.”
While many might do online searches and find chat rooms or forums, not all are positive or provide accurate information, Aloi said. With the start of the Columbus support group, Aloi’s organization has five in Indiana.
One topic that typically causes strain for couples facing infertility is the costs of treatments. Some couples also must take days off of work to travel to another city to see fertility specialists, which are only available in a few Indiana cities.
Aloi said 17 states have mandates for insurance companies to pay at least a portion of the medical costs for infertility treatments, but Indiana is not one of them and change is not on the horizon.
For the Reardons, insurance paid $5,000, which was only a small amount compared to the out-of-pocket expenses they paid for surgeries and other treatments. They said they are fortunate they could afford the costs, but they know many couples cannot.
On the couple’s third round of in vitro fertilization, they were very lucky. Tami became pregnant and had their daughter, Bailey, who is now 5.
Each round of in vitro fertilization cost between $18,000 and $20,000, Tami said, but they wanted to keep trying.
Zach, who works for Excel Equipment in Greenwood, said on the third try, the doctors gave them only a 1 percent chance of Tami becoming pregnant.
The Hunters, however, do not have the financial means to go the same route and are looking at other options, including adoption. Sabrina also has researched grants for couples who need help with costs for infertility treatment.
“It doesn’t seem fair sometimes,” Sabrina said. “But it gets to a point where the money adds up and you are done.”
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