Greg and Julia Fry

Since they’ve started, Greg and Julia Fry say they’ve met a dozen or so couples who have gone through something similar.

“You certainly find out who’s going through it when you do,” said Julia.

The couple, when they started dating in 2009, were the image of your typical modern couple, both coming at life the responsible way preached by most of our baby boomer parents: they went to school, got degrees and immediately dove into professional life, both putting their careers first, setting a stable ground for themselves and working to build a foundation for the future they’d been taught to expect: save money, buy a house, start a family.

But after being laid off in the wake of the recession, the couple lived a life described by Greg as “a roller coaster.” The following years were filled with ups and downs, the pair biding their time focusing on building stability for their own selves, rather than immediately diving into the endeavor of starting a family in their 20s: something that today seems to be a relic of a bygone era. Once they’d dated a few years, Julia and Greg eventually got married in May 2013, fresh off a year of caring for Greg’s mother in Pennsylvania. Immediately after, counting four years together, the two decided they would try to start a family.?

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“I waited,” Julia said, “But there’s a risk to waiting. You might be responsible, and think you’re doing the right thing, but now you’ve gone beyond this time period of things just working out.”

They tried for a few months, thinking eventually it would happen, but one day the pair got to the point where they were going to local doctors, trying to figure out what the problem was. Sometime last year, they decided to see what the next step looked like. This, the couple said, led them into seeking professional, medical help.

The process of starting a family with a doctor’s help is nothing new. In Vitro fertilization (the act of conceiving a child outside of the body) has been around since 1978. Artificial insemination, or IUI, has been around even longer. But for many couples, especially given drastic changes in socioeconomics and family structure over the past few decades, IVF and IUI have become much more common in practice, recently earning the attention of NPR, where Greg and Julia were recently featured in a story on the subject.?

Their story has a bit of a twist to it, however: the couple are crowdfunding the procedure. The reasons they give, however, are good ones.?

The pair started their story with IUI -- which costs approximately $700 per cycle -- in November 2015, which is covered by insurance in New York State and “less intrusive,” Greg said. To carry this out, little more is required other than a check up every several days to monitor the bodily effects of the hormones that are injected during each cycle to make sure no ill effects come from the dosage. However, Julia was overstimulated on the higher third dose, meaning that from that point on, Julia possibly could have given birth to triplets or quadruplets, something their doctor, given Julia’s age, said could have meant a high risk pregnancy. That effort unsuccessful, the couple moved onto IVF, which is an actual, laboratorial procedure involving sedation, a somewhat surgical procedure and unlike the IUI treatments, which could be carried out in Syracuse, a trip to Albany to see a specialist.?

What they were looking for, they said, was an opportunity. What they found was a $12, 000 to $20,000 per cycle cost for the treatment -- all of which comes out of pocket with no guarantees. So they decided to crowdfund.

The decision wasn’t made without doing prior research: The couple looked extensively into the ways they could possibly dodge the high cost. They looked to move to Massachusetts, where an IVF procedure was covered by insurance. The looked toward South Africa, which they decided might have been a little too odd. They even looked into IVF “vacations,” where they would go to a foreign country for several weeks and have the procedure done at a fraction of the cost. ?

But in today’s world, where people will crowdfund anything from an independent film to a Gucci purse, the logic seemed more along the lines of “why not?” than anything else: there was no harm, they thought, in putting the idea out there and seeing how warm the water was.

“We’re at the point where it might not happen on our own,” Julia added. “For us to save up for something like that, it would take us quite a bit of time and for us, every year that goes by is another year my chances of conception go down.”

According to the American Society For Reproductive Medicine, A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s, with chances of conception gradually declining in the 30s. Time becomes more of the element later down the road, particularly after age 35, where the chance of conception is somewhere around 15 to 20 percent each month. By age 40, a woman’s chance to conceive is less than 5 percent per cycle, so fewer than five out of every 100 women are expected to be successful each month.

But, of course, the human body is not a machine and as such, the process of conception isn’t cut and dry. Just because your birthday came around, Greg jokes, doesn’t mean your chances go down five percent. And while they could try naturally -- there is a chance, after all -- the time for them is now and, hopefully, they’ll be preparing for family life later this winter.

They just wish it was a little easier.

“I just wish (IVF) wasn’t so expensive,” Julia said. “I get it’s an expensive procedure, but if you’re covering IUI, it’s really not all that different.”

“I read the comments (on NPR) after our story aired and people were like, ‘if they can’t afford this, how can they afford a child?’ and suggesting we go through adoption but… we made the decision we want to do it this way,” Greg said. “If it doesn’t work out, we have to prepare for that. But we’re remaining unbelievably optimistic that by this time next year, we’re going to have started a family. If someone wants to give us $20 to help that happen, great. If someone thinks we’re awful people for doing it this way, fine… we just want to tell this story because we’re going through it. You can bottle it up and be quiet about it or you can tell the story. We want people to realize they’re not alone and there are other people going through these things as well.”

To give, visit?https://pages.giveforward.com/medical/page-bwg4ty5/

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Follow Nick Reynolds on Twitter @Nickthaca

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