Infertility is a global health issue affecting 48-million couples and 186 million individuals: in the United States, the percentage stands at about 26 percent.
It is an issue that Doctor John Storment, medical director of Fertility Answers, said he sees every day. He sits across the table from couples and has to have those tough conversations with them.
The hardest part, Storment said, is having to give out those numbers, the cost of IUI and IVF and have a couple sit in silence knowing they cannot afford it.
"Because of their medical condition the only way they'll have a family is by in vitro fertilization," Storment said. "I'm looking at the income and tell them I'm looking at your coverage and it's going to cost you $15,000 out of pocket. A person is sitting here, and they have a joint income of $65,000 and know that they can't afford it. They walk out of here knowing that they won't be parents."
Married in 2019, Adam and Melinda Lafleur new they wanted a child together.
"We knew. We knew what we wanted to do," Melinda said.
When nothing seemed to work, the couple took the next step by contacting Melinda's OBGYN.
"They found out that she wasn't ovulating as often as she should," Adam explained. "They started her on a medication."
" We did medicine for six months and nothing worked," Melissa finished. "So, they referred us to a specialist over at Fertility Answers."
They ran more tests and the Lefleur's said everything came back fine.
Everyone told them there should be no reason they are not conceiving. The Lefleur's did what is called a "dye" test.
"They did what they call and HSG test or dye test," Melinda explained. "They look at your Fallopian tubes to see if they're completely open and I was 100 percent blocked on both sides."
Melinda underwent surgery to clear out the Fallopian tubes and it worked, but a round of IUI after the surgery did not.
In January of 2021 the couple went in for In Vitro Fertilization, better known as IVF.
"We only had one shot and that one didn't take," Adam said. "We had to start the process from giving her the injections to doing all of that all over again."
The process, one that very few people talk about, it is not easy and starts with the testing of both partners.
"The most important thing to start off, they test everything under the sun," Melinda said. "They test him, me....then we start with stem medications, and it starts with two a day. It allows your body to produce more follicles and that allows you to produce more eggs."
From there, the monitoring starts. Once a healthy amount of follicles is released another injection is required to make sure you stop releasing those eggs. Then the last injection allows the woman's body to release the eggs and the doctor goes in and collects as many as possible.
"The egg retrieval process is definitely not fun or comfortable for the mother," Adam said.
Each time IVF does not work the mother has to go through the process again.
"We knew that we did all of this before, did it all right, and the first time didn't work," Melinda said. "By the time we got to the second time we wondered if it wouldn't work again and if we were just spinning our wheels."
Luckily for Melinda and Adam, the second time did work.
She gave birth to a baby girl in July.
In Maurice, Katie Herbert with a similar story. She married her husband, tried to start a family, and nothing happened.
"You try month after month, you kind of think that this is pretty normal," Hebert said. "You quickly get self-defeated because as the months go on it gets concerning as to why I'm not getting pregnant."
Hebert said she did any and everything people suggested to her.
"I did it all," Hebert said. "I went to the nuns, I got prayed over by the healing priest, I got the foot bath, and at the raw nuts. Anything you told me would help me I did it."
Finally, she and her husband decided to go the IVF route.
Hebert went into the procedure optimistic.
"They basically tell us , after five days, that five embryos made the freeze," Hebert said. "I thought, great, we get five chances to make this happen. We did the first procedure, and it was unsuccessful. I was totally broken."
As a mental health professional, Hebert made it her life's work helping others---at that time she knew she was one who needed the help.
"At that failure was the closest thing I could say to depression," Hebert said. "You have everything in that basket. I did glorify IVF and thought that it would work because there was nothing telling me there was a problem. I knew that it would be the ticket."
Hebert and her husband had to regroup and decide how long they would and could keep going.
They ultimately decided to give it another go, the medications, another let down, and starting the process all over again.
"It was so difficult to know when to stop."
Eventually it all paid off and the couple welcomed a baby girl.
"Her name is Allie Kate Hebert and I always say I'm going to sing her story forever."
"It's a huge burden on families financially and emotionally," Representative for District 69, Paula Davis said. "We see what infertility can do to not only a man or woman, but a couple. It's taxing on marriages...etc. This is a prolife bill and family building families bill."
House Bill 537 would require insurance companies to cover at least three rounds of IVF.
Davis said she had support, more than she ever thought. Colleagues would come up to her every day and talk about their own journey or the journey of someone they knew.
"We did not fight with infertility, but so many of friends have and it can be so devastating," Davis said.
HB 537 did not pass, Davis no giving up hope.
"It lit a fire under me to get this done for next year because this is very important to me," Davis said. "You can see on the bill that it left the House with 58 co-authors and the senate finance committee with a number of those authors, as well."
Both Hebert and Melinda are thankful for their journey, not matter how hard it was, because they know there are so many other out there that could use the same help to have the family they have always wanted.