While They Met at Target, Pregnancy is New Bull’s-Eye for La Verne Couple

July 30, 2011
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Kristen and Matt Miller have created Photos4Fertility.com to help raise money for an expensive in vitro fertilization procedure they'd like to try in order to start a family.

Kristen and Matt Miller have created Photos4Fertility.com to help raise money for an expensive in vitro fertilization procedure they'd like to try in order to start a family.

Although Matt and Kristen Miller met while working at the giant retailer Target, the now married couple has a different bull’s-eye in mind. They want a family, but nature isn’t exactly cooperating.

“Having a family was always in the works, but only in the last couple of years did we start getting serious,” said Matt, who today is a popular teacher at Grace Miller Elementary in La Verne and an advisor to the school’s technology club. Kristen still works as a Target manager.

After five years of marriage, the now 30-year-olds are hoping a combination of nature and nurture will help them produce a child.

In 2009, they first consulted a fertility doctor, but they almost wished they hadn’t.

“That first visit was like going to a used car salesman,” Matt recalled. “He wanted to give us coupons for this and that, and if we agreed to sign up for a seminar, we could save $100 more.”

Their endocrinologist had recommended a top specialist for them to consult, but their HMO denied the out-of-network doctor.

Kristen recently snapped this photo of a dragonfly.

Kristen recently snapped this photo of a dragonfly.

On their second attempt, they found Pacific Reproductive Center in Corona, Calif., a much better fit.

“Our consultation was warm and thorough,” Kristen said. “The staff treated us with respect and sincere care.”

Despite their fondness for the fertility center, their results didn’t change. Kristen was found to have pituitary gland problems.

“The doctors told us that there was no communication between Kristen’s pituitary gland and her ovaries,” Matt said.  She also was found to have a small, but functioning uterus and ovaries.

Matt’s tests didn’t exactly light the world on fire, either, but they were good enough for them to proceed with in utero insemination or IUI, a medical procedure that introduces sperm into the uterus, often with positive results for women with infertility.

Each IUI procedure ran about $2,500, of which their insurance covered only about half the cost. In fact, Matt and Kristen learned that if they paid cash for the IUI procedures, and didn’t use insurance, the cost would actually be less.

From that point on, the couple selectively used their insurance to pay for some things and dive into their own pockets to pay for others. Despite mounting expenses and failing twice to produce a pregnancy via IUI, Matt and Kristen weren’t ready to call it quits.

“We had depleted our savings, but we were still eager to try a third time with IUI,” Matt said. “We had planned to use our credit cards.”

Their doctors, however, said their chances for success using IUI was low and recommended they pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process whereby fertilization occurs outside the body (in vitro) by combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish before transferring the embryo to the uterus.
The only trouble is, IVF costs about $10,000 per procedure, a cost far exceeding their ability to pay.

Kristen captured this picture of an old shed with her Canon camera.

Kristen captured this picture of an old shed with her Canon camera.

In the meantime, Matt and Kristen have gone back to trying to conceive naturally, hoping for a miracle, while also trying to scrimp and save for the eventual IVF procedure.

“We know the course that we have to follow,” Kristen said. “We know in vitro is our only option.”

In a way, it’s as if the couple is starting from scratch, all the while their biological clocks keep mercilessly ticking. Experts agree that a woman’s optimum period of fertility is in her early 20s and the rate of pregnancy drops as a woman ages. After the age of 35, that rate declines exponentially to about 10 percent a month.

Still, they remain undeterred. In fact, they’re taking some productive measures of their own that just could help them pay for their first IVF. With Matt’s technical help, Kristen has begun posting her beautiful photos of flowers, wildlife and landscapes on a site Matt has created, called Photos4Fertility.com.

“We didn’t want to create a begging site,” Matt said, distancing their site from the growing cyber practice of asking strangers for money online to meet needs for money, food, shelter, medical procedures and other wants. “We wanted to have some kind of exchange.”

Nor are they ready to put up a “safe surrender” sign in front of their La Verne home, Matt joked, referring to the law that allows an individual to safely give up an unwanted infant with no fear of arrest or prosecution for abandonment.

At this point, they are still more determined than desperate.

“Somehow, someway it’s going to happen for us,” Kristen said. “Whatever road we have to go down, it will be worth it. It’s just about wanting a family, and the joy of our parents getting to be grandparents. It’s so important for us to be able to give that to them.”

Another in vitro package they’re considering costs about $20,000 for three attempts, but should the attempts fail, they would receive 90% of their money back, which they would then apply toward adoption.

“One way or the other we’re going to have a family,” Kristen said. “But we feel we have to give the in vitro at least one try.”

One way readers can help is to visit www.Photos4Fertility.com, and witness all the beautiful photos of calla lilies, dragonflies and other exquisite examples of nature that Kristen has captured with her Canon camera. Photos range in cost from $5 for a 4-by-6, to $10 for a 5-by-7, to a $15 for an 8-by-10.

In many ways, Matt and Kristen are like lots of other young married couples. She cooks, he does the dishes. She dresses up the house while he keeps the cars running. He teaches while she decorates his classroom so it sparkles on the first day of school.

Like young married couples, they have big dreams and hopes, and that includes raising a family of their home. They just need a little assist from nature, science and their own community.

“Everybody always told us how expensive it is having kids,” said Matt, smiling gently. “We were prepared for that. But nobody ever told us how expensive it is to get pregnant.”

No matter the impediments Matt and Kristen face, they continue to see the daylight of their quest for a family.

No matter the impediments Matt and Kristen face, they continue to see the daylight in their quest to have children.

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