Kelsey Redd spent most of her pregnancy waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“I had a hard time throughout my pregnancy not fearing the worst,” she said. “We’d never had a success before.”
After 10 years of trying, unsuccessful fertility treatments and thousands of dollars, Kelsey and Tyler Redd welcomed not one, but two babies into the world on June 15.
The twins were born after the Redds received the first grant from The Hope for Fertility Foundation, an Orem-based organization that awards grants to couples who have struggled to conceive.
The foundation was started while Tedi Palmer, a founder and board member, was in between her first and second cycles of in vitro fertilization.
“We wanted to give back to the infertility community and be able to help others start their families,” Palmer said.
Fertility treatments can cost more than $10,000 each and are rarely covered by insurance.
The annual grant recipients are chosen by a committee who considers a couple’s need, how long they’ve been trying to have children and who needs to feel there is still hope.
Seven babies have been added to families who have received the grant. Palmer said four of those are twins.
She’s been thrilled to see that the organization’s first grant has led to two births.
“It is really exciting watching and seeing that we made an impact in their lives and were able to help build their family,” Palmer said.
For the Redds, it wasn’t until the twins were out of the neonatal intensive care unit and in their Orem home that it finally felt real.
Kelsey Redd tried to enjoy every moment of her pregnancy, even the bad ones, because she knew it was what they’d been waiting for for years. She’s had the same mindset with parenting.
“Of course it’s crazy and hard and chaotic and we’re tired, but I think we have the mindset of we aren’t going to take this for granted,” she said.
Their twins, James and Makenna, were in the NICU for a month after being born two months premature. Even at three months old, they already have distinct — and completely opposite — personalities.
James, older by a couple of minutes, established himself early as their little fighter.
“He is just always in motion, always moving,” Kelsey Redd said.
Makenna is named after their favorite beach in Maui.
“She is seriously just the most chill, laid back, happy little girl,” Kelsey Redd said. “We joke that she totally has that personality of the beach babe.”
The Redds have been open about their journey to have children.
“I think part of it is realizing how many other people are impacted by it,” Tyler Redd said. “You are part of a community you really didn’t want to be a part of.”
Cost was a major barrier for them when it came to pursuing fertility treatments. They used a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for their first round of IVF, and applied for the grant for the second.
They were awarded the $3,500 grant in 2017, had the eggs fertilized and then waited to implant the embryos until last year in order to recover mentally, physically and emotionally from previous unsuccessful attempts.
There were times when the couple took a break from trying to conceive not only to save up for the next treatment, but because they needed time to recover mentally and physically. Kelsey Redd, a mental health counselor who works with people who are experiencing infertility and loss, said couples should give themselves permission to take that time off.
Ten days after the embryos were transferred, Kelsey Redd took an at-home pregnancy test. It came back positive, as did the blood test later that day.
Twins were a surprise. So was the NICU. Between the fertility treatments and the NICU, the Redds estimate the babies have cost them about $500,000 before insurance, which covered the hospital stay, but not fertility treatments.
She said they were able to travel a lot before getting pregnant, which they now consider a blessing.
“Try to find joy even while you wait so that you don’t feel like when they finally do come that you wasted the time you had,” she said.
Tyler Redd recommends not giving advice to couples trying to conceive — which includes using essential oils, suggesting a vacation or telling a couple to “just relax.” He said couples should take the time to listen to each other and talk.
“It doesn’t make it better, but being there to validate one another is really huge,” he said.
To apply for or donate to the grant, go to http://hopeforfertility.org.