When Angela and Kyonn’s twins arrive this August, they won’t yet understand the story of how a supportive group of women and an Illinois fertility practice came together to make their parent’s dream of family come true. Someday, though, their parents will tell them.
The story began like most family stories. Couple marries. Couple tries for children. That’s when the story got interesting.
Angela and Kyonn had always wanted a family. Two children, they thought, would make their family complete. Soon after their wedding in 2011, they started trying to get pregnant immediately.
Since Angela was 34, her OB/GYN had advised that they try for six months, and then come in if they weren’t yet pregnant. The months passed with no results. So they went to a fertility specialist in Memphis.
The doctor found that Angela’s fallopian tubes were 70 percent blocked. The only option was to have her tubes removed and then do IVF.
“I was shocked,” says Angela. “But after I got over that, I was willing to do IVF. I would do whatever it took to get pregnant.”
Angela had her tubes removed, but then the couple learned that infertility treatments aren’t covered by insurance in their home state of Mississippi. They would have the pay for it all themselves. It would not be easy.
“My husband and I prayed and called this Project Baby,” Angela says. “We started saving and cutting back on things in order to save money for IVF. There were no vacations, no shopping — just work, prayer, and church.”
In the midst of saving, Angela came across a fertility clinic running a study. Participating in the study would help reduce their costs. After qualifying for the study, the cost was more affordable. When the couple had enough saved, they went ahead with IVF.
“I found out I was pregnant,” Angela remembers. “But then I miscarried on the 10th day.”
It was heartbreaking. Now they would have to start saving all over again.
“But everything happens for a reason,” Angela believes.
During that time, Angela’s mother-in-law told her about Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, Founder and President at Fertility for Colored Girls.
“Our mission is to reach out and extend our encouragement and support to African American women who are struggling with infertility,” says Rev. Stacey. The group offers support through monthly webinars, weekly prayer calls, and a Facebook page.
Angela decided to join one of the prayer calls Rev. Stacey led each Monday morning. She found encouragement and support from the group when she shared her story of miscarriage. Soon, she was joining the prayer call every week.
Around that same time, Rev. Stacey was planning “Hats, Heels and Hankies,” a fundraiser for the group. Fertility for Colored Girls had partnered with Fertility Centers of Illinois to give away one free cycle of IVF. Rev. Stacey encouraged Angela and Kyonn to come to the event in Chicago and enter the raffle.
“We decided that we could spend $70 on bus tickets from Mississippi to Chicago,” Angela remembers. So the pair boarded the overnight bus, trying to keep their hopes in check. “I was looking forward to meeting Rev. Stacey and the other women I had met over the phone,” Angela says.
When Dr. Marut presented the raffle winner at the event, Angela and Kyonn were both in tears — as was the audience.
“We told the group their story and everyone was touched,” Rev. Stacey recalls. “Their hearts were so genuine. It was so powerful to see what God was doing in their lives.”
Angela began treatment with Dr. Marut soon afterward. In December, the couple got the best Christmas present ever.
“My parents and Kyonn were with me in the car when they called to say I was pregnant,” Angela says. “I had to ask them to repeat it. We were so happy!”
When she was six weeks along, the couple found out that it was twins. Angela’s family was present for the scan when everyone saw the twins’ heartbeats for the first time.
“All my tears and prayers had been answered,” she says, quoting a favorite Bible verse, 1 Samuel 1:27. “For this child we prayed, and the Lord has granted what we ask of him.”
“It was an emotional and rewarding moment for all of us,” says Dr. Marut.
Angela is grateful to Dr. Edward Marut, Torria Johnson Driver, and the staff at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
“They were with me every step of the way whenever I needed them.”
Having support and encouragement through infertility is important, Angela says. “Before, I had been embarrassed. I didn’t feel like a woman because I couldn’t have a baby. Finding support and encouragement was really important. It was good to know that I wasn’t walking the journey alone.”
For more information on Fertility for Colored Girls, see www.fertilityforcoloredgirls.org.