See how one local woman and her husband turned their struggle with fertility into a unique resource for other couples trying to become parents.
Just a few short years ago, Jennifer Lynn Bross was in a dark place in life. It’s a place in which many people — one in eight, to be exact — struggling with infertility find themselves.
Today, she’s the founder of Parental Hope, to be a beacon of light for others struggling with the issues she faced, as this Cincinnati-based 501c3 non-profit organization is dedicated to serving the infertility community.
“Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse,” Bross says. Some of the most common infertility diagnoses include: Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), quality of embryos, multiple unexplained miscarriages, etc. Infertility impacts both men and women. “Infertility does not discriminate and can have devastating long-term effects; physically, emotionally and financially,” she says. According to Bross, “one in eight couples (12 percent) have trouble getting pregnant and suffer some form of infertility.”
Jennifer and her husband, David Bross, know all-too-well the suffering caused by infertility. David actually began his journey with infertility before the two even met. “A couple years before David and I had our first date, he was diagnosed with male factor infertility,” Jennifer says. “His primary issue was the morphology, or to put it in simple terms, less than one percent of his semen were complete and normal (a healthy male has greater than four percent). This classified him as ‘sub-fertile.’”
In February of 2012, the couple started dating and decided to get a second opinion from the Urologist. David was tested, and the doctor called to tell him he was infertile and wasn’t likely to have children. “He was absolutely devastated,” she says. A few days after David heard the news, Jennifer helped him to realize he wasn’t the person to give up easily or lose hope. However, after more testing and ultrasounds, David discovered he had a varicocele, “which is basically an issue in the vein that increases the temperature to the point that it affects sperm development,” Bross says. After finding out the information, he decided to undergo a procedure on the affected veins and began a routine of taking about 30 vitamins a day.
Six months later, the couple met with with Dr. Michael Schreiber at the Institute for Reproductive Health, “hoping he could fix our broken hearts,” she says. “We were told that David’s morphology had increased to 1%, which was high enough to do IVF with ICSI. Finally, some good news.” IV, or In Vitro Fertilization, is “a technique where a women’s eggs and man’s sperm are combined in a special laboratory in order to create an embryo,” she says.
However, Jennifer was diagnosed with Polycystic Syndrome, which means I don’t ovulate. “We had no idea how we would pay for IVF, we didn’t care, as it was the first time we had been told parenthood was even a remote possibility given our diagnoses,” Jennifer says.
Over a year later, “after David’s morphology issue, my PCOS diagnosis, three negative Intrauterine Inseminations (IUIs), one egg retrieval, a bout of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which resulted in 10 days of bed rest and a liter of fluid drained from my ovaries, and two negative frozen embryo transfers, our miracle finally occurred on our third frozen embryo transfer,” Jennifer says. “Now, we are the proud parents of 3-year-old twins, Violet and Logan, who are the loves of our lives.”
Going through the experience of infertility inspired Jennifer to spread the message of hope to the Parental Hope is a unique organization that in the community of Cincinnati. Bross and her passionate board of directors are “ dedicated to serving the infertility community in the Greater Cincinnati area and all across the country,” she says.
Parental Hope offers a variety of services to get through the struggle of infertility. The organization offers Parental Hope Family Grants (PHFG), Advocacy and Public Outreach and Peer-Led Support. “Parental Hope believes that every person should have the opportunity to achieve their dream of parenthood, and a lack of financial means should not be an impediment to pursuing this dream,” she says.
The ways that Parental Hope raises awareness and educates people about infertility are: events, like Journey to Parenthood: An Evening of Hope; social media, like Warrior Wednesdays, which is Parental Hope highlighting someone battling or has overcome infertility; and other media platforms, like news outlets.
The organization is not a paying job for Jennifer. “We are a 100% voluntary organization. None of our board members and volunteers receive a salary and most have full-time careers outside of Parental Hope,” she says. “Personally, Parental Hope is more than a hobby or ‘second job.’ It’s my passion.”
You can get involved with what Jennifer and Parental Hope is doing by attending their Journey to Parenthood event, fundraising, volunteers, and media opportunities. You can keep up with what the organization is doing by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.