Infertility can be a lonely journey; riddled with shame and guilt, too many wishful parents recluse from judgment. But in our society of blogs and social media, some couples are choosing to speak out, seek hope and look to their communities for support - including financial help. Such is the case with Kripá and Erin Pizzorno, whose decision to launch Making Baby Pizzorno, has gotten them closer to their first IVF treatment than they could have done on their own - raising close to $4,500 in just a few short months.
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The cost of one IVF treatment can range in the tens of thousands of dollars, with the likelihood of a successful first treatment garnering low odds. The taboo didn't stop the Pizzornos from sharing and asking for help, though. Hosting raffles and auctions on their Making Baby Pizzorno Facebook page, in addition to their fundraising platform, is a daily task. Coupled with a tightening economy and moderate incomes, the Southern California couple is using online fundraising to fund their fertility treatment. Erin, a doula and natural parenting advocate by trade, knows she's not alone, "We've met people that haven't told their families, haven't told their friends, so they're really going through it alone. For us, we knew that we'd probably not be able to do this if not through a fundraiser, but also we're not really ashamed and we want the support".
The Pizzornos chose YouCaring.com as a base for fertility fundraising because it offers medical fundraising without additional fees (only those associated with PayPal) and they do not have to meet a goal before donations hit their savings account. After exhausting or not qualifying for traditional financing because of income and sheer amount of money required as down payment to begin fertility treatments (and a lack of payment plan options), Erin explains that they "have a credit card ready with a fair amount if we need or are in a bind, in addition to our own savings and fundraising". Even with that element of transparency into their personal finances, the couple still believes that sharing their story has been, overall, a very positive experience.
Infertility touches many facets of one's life, especially for Erin, whose work as a doula intimately leads women into their first moments of motherhood. Now, instead of responding to inquiries of her own motherhood with a dismissive "No, we don't have kids yet", Erin has chosen to share her infertility with prospective clients. "I used to see the reaction where moms would seem disappointed in interviews. But since I started sharing, it really catches people off guard. People don't expect to hear that information. However every time I've shared, the out pour of support has been positive". So while the Pizzornos' fundraising efforts can mostly be found online, their willingness to share their story in all forums continues to impact their efforts to build a family- "In the past year, my clients that have gone through IVF started to refer others and now my client base has changed significantly. I didn't expect that."
Erin's husband, Kripá (whose moniker is from India and his mother's love of the culture), has encountered his own unexpected challenges throughout their infertility ordeal. With initial emotions that run the gamut, Kripá is now a firm believer in sharing their infertility journey online in hopes to raise the funds for IVF treatments. "In the last 12 months, as we continue this experience, I am definitely more hopeful that we can have a baby in a year's time. In speaking on fundraising or online sharing, initially I did have concerns, but seeing how open Erin is has changed my mind." Kripá notes how, after sharing with people in his life, he learned that others were dealing with infertility as well. "With the blog and online fundraising, the more we share the more I find out that we're not alone; that maybe one day I will become a father".-Vanessa Bell
To read more about the Pizzornos' infertility journey, visit their fundraising page Making Baby Pizzorno or on Facebook.
Photography credit goes to Southern California's Beth Moser Photgraphy.
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