Laura Brafford had no idea how she'd swing the costs of her IVF treatment—but a group of strangers stepped in to make it possible.
Like so many other couples struggling with infertility, Laura and Patrick Brafford found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. After they began their IVF journey, the couple faced down a $5,000 bill for prescription medicine.
Brafford had no idea how she'd afford to cover the cost—but then her doctor told her that if she could find another woman's unused medicine, she could use it (provided it wasn't expired or opened, of course). And what happened next was, in Brafford's own words, a miracle.
"I was using social media as a means to update friends and family on our journey, but also to crowd fund for monetary donations by opening a YouCaring page, sharing about my second job waitressing on the weekends, hosting a yard sale, and selling homemade candles. It never occurred to me to get medical donations—I honestly didn’t realize that was allowed," Brafford told Fit Pregnancy. "That all changed when I met a girl on the Glow period tracker app who was offering to donate her unexpired medications. Her act of kindness transcended into a chain reaction of miracles that couldn’t be stopped. I created a post on Instagram thanking her for her kindness after I received the package of medicine—aka #IVFcandy—and from that post another girl reached out offering medications as well. I then posted a thank you to her and the chain continued until I ended up with over $3,500 of unopened and unexpired medicine to use for my July IVF cycle."
But Brafford found much more than just financial assistance when she began reaching out via social media—she discovered a community of sorts, one that was full of people who had lived through her experience and understood how isolating infertility can be. There is, sadly, still a stigma surrounding these topics, and Brafford found something incredibly valuable when she opened up about her own experience.
"When I started on this journey, my husband and I weren’t sure if we were going to be open about our struggles or not," Brafford admitted. "There is still so much shame surrounded by infertility, miscarriages, and loss that it’s not a conversation a lot of people want to have. Plus it is a very long journey—once people on the outside get through the standard questions of why/what/when/how they begin not knowing what to say to you anymore... That is where the TTC sisterhood comes in…a group of girls—and some guys—that are undoubtedly the most selfless, supportive, and fierce group of people I have ever been surrounded by. In a way, I feel lucky to be on this journey and get to experience that kind of community."
IVF isn't just financially and physically draining, it's also a massive emotional undertaking—and the sense of community Brafford found undoubtedly helped her through an unthinkably tough situation. Her advice for other couples who are dealing with IVF and infertility? Lean on that community.
"It is important for us to feel like we aren’t defined by our struggle, and although it is a community based on that struggle they somehow make you feel a sense of normalcy... The community is there and the community is strong," she said. "If you are going through infertility, there is a community waiting for you with open arms! No judgement and no strings attached, just a lot of love, prayers, and laughs. They have answers for everything, experiences to share, and motivation to dish out."