After 8 years of marriage, including a five-thousand mile move from Kumasi, Ghana to Toms River, New Jersey, Jen and Joe finally were ready to start a family. Instead of spending time enjoying nights in Manhattan, they spent their weekends dreaming about raising children in America. But like so many couples, they encountered difficulty becoming pregnant, and started to consider options to assist with their fertility.
On a drive home from the store, they noticed a large billboard from a local fertility clinic, the tagline read, “We Can Make Your Dreams Come True”. Excited and encouraged by the sign, they noted the clinic's information.
Jen and Joe reasoned that professional assistance would be the quickest path to starting a family, and agreed to contact the Clinic for fertility testing. The tests revealed a blockage in both of Jen’s fallopian tubes and damage to the left tube, so at the suggestion of the physician, Jen underwent a surgery to remove the blockage in the right tube and remove the left tube completely, expecting that this common procedure would be the key to their family expansion.
Following the surgery, the doctor spoke with Jen and Joe to explain the results; they was shocked and sad to learn that instead of removing blockage from her right fallopian tube, the doctor had instead elected to remove both of her tubes completely- rendering the chance for Jen and Joe to conceive naturally impossible. Jen and Joe would have never agreed to this procedure, but a technicality within the small print of the patient paperwork gave the doctor the right to perform any additional procedures he deemed necessary during the surgery.
During a follow-up appointment at the clinic, the doctor advised they that despite lacking Fallopian tubes, Jen still had a healthy uterus and ovaries, which meant she was now the perfect candidate for one of the remaining procedures available to assist them in conception, InVitro Fertilization (IVF). Through the conversation, they learned that this invasive and expensive procedure actually was the doctor's speciality, giving them reason to suspect that the fallopian tube removal was done intentionally to force the them into IVF treatment.
The doctor offered to perform the IVF for $18k, more than half of what Joe earned in yearly salary. And despite being aware of Jen and Joe’s financial situation, the doctor refused to offer a payment plan, meaning the full $18,000 would be due prior to the treatment. Left with few options, Jen and Joe decided to accept the doctor's offer.
Joe and Jen were undeterred by the challenge to save $18,000; they worked several jobs, ate little, and spent even less. In May 2010, nearly two years after Jen's Fallopian tubes had been removed, Jen and Joe proudly paid $18,000.00 to start IVF. By June 2010, Jen already was taking the medications, and 18 days after their first egg transfer, the test results revealed that Jen and Joe finally were pregnant.
The weeks following were filled with doctor's appointments and testing; during a routine sonogram, they learned that Jen was carrying not just one, but two babies- they were having twins. Given the trials and heartbreak experienced in the years before, Jen and Joe felt as though the twins were full recompense for their troubles.
Then, at eight weeks into their pregnancy, Jen and Joe had yet another loss when one of the twins miscarried. Always believing the best, they remained thankful for the continued growth and development of their remaining baby.
August 31, 2010, Jen attended a routine baby exam, which revealed a healthy growing child; the pregnancy had been smooth since the miscarriage, and both Jen and Joe were expecting continued ease through the remaining months. What no one could know is that the coming week held unbelievable tragedy and pain far beyond what they had experienced in the past.
On Labor Day, September 6, 2010, Jen woke up feeling slightly tired and nauseous; by that evening, she was miscarrying her baby. Joe was at work that evening in Manhattan and would not be able to reach Jen for hours, so she immediately phoned 911. Because their apartment lacked the ability to buzz visitors inside, Jen crawled down the building’s stairwell to the front door to wait for the paramedics. She was met at the front door by a policeman who was responding to her 911 call, and though he was unable to render any medical care, he stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.
When the paramedics arrived, Jen was hemorrhaging severely and immediately was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River, NJ. The ER admitted Jen to the hospital, advising her that the only OB on-call that night was already with a woman in labor. So despite the urgency and excruciating pain, Jen would now have to wait. For the next four hours, Jen lay in her ER room while the legs of her unborn baby protruded from her body.
When the OB arrived, he pulled the remainder of the baby from Jen's body, revealing a beautiful boy. With only a few moments alone, Jen held her lifeless son and named him Oheneba, which means 'prince'. She then placed him in a simple white box that the doctor had left to hold his tiny body and waited for the nurses to return. Jen remained in the hospital for an additional 12 hours, undergoing a DNC to remove the placenta that had not been delivered in the ER. Joe finally made it to the hospital during the early morning hours on September 7, 2010, but he never met his son Oheneba.
In the weeks following, Jen and Joe quietly grieved the loss of their son. Jen returned to work a month after the miscarriage, her job serving as both a welcome distraction, as well as financial necessity. Because neither Jen nor Joe had medical insurance, their tragedy was now also a financial burden, so Jen’s income would be applied towards medical payments and Joe’s towards living expenses.
Incredibly, Jen and Joe remain filled with the hope and expectation they will one day have a family. Through their own research, they have located a reputable physician who has agreed to perform IVF for half the cost of the clinic, $3000 for medications and $6000 for the egg transfer.
We've been moved by the passion and courage of this couple. They've been undaunted in the face of doubt and hopeful in the midst of despair; they are an encouragement to all whom they meet, and have left a priceless mark on the world.
In solidarity with their pursuit for family, we're hoping to raise the entire $9000 to cover their IVF treatment. We'd love to have your help in making Jen and Joe's dream finally become a reality.