Jessica Gale and her husband have tried to become pregnant for the last 13 years
A woman from Utah is determined to achieve her dream of having a baby—and her most recent course of action has led her to standing at local intersections, asking passing drivers for donations to fund in vitro fertilization treatments.
Jessica Gale and her husband, Jared, have been married for 13 years, and have been longing for a child of their own. They’ve been unsuccessful in getting pregnant after trying for many years. Jared also has Kallmann syndrome—a rare genetic condition that causes delayed or absent puberty and leads to a low sperm production.
“Being married for 13 years, not being able to have a baby, it’s a struggle. All of your friends are having kids, and then they stop having kids, and you’re still not even out of the gate,” Jessica, 34, of Payson, Utah, tells PEOPLE. “Your horse still hasn’t left, and everybody else has raced around the track a couple times, and they’re finished. It’s really frustrating to see your horse stalled.”
The first treatment the couple took up in their quest for a baby was adopting an embryo (where another woman’s embryo is placed inside a woman’s womb) in 2012. While the couple got news just two weeks after the $10,000 procedure that they were expecting, Jessica was shattered when the same nurse told her that she had read the results wrong, and she wasn’t pregnant.
“To go from one extreme, like happiness, to the exact opposite was just a terrible experience,” she recalls.
To experience for a fleeting moment what it felt like as a mother, only to have it taken away, was emotionally taxing on her. But the experience eventually strengthened the couple, and they decided to keep trying other options.
“We thought we had to start closing those doors, because if we get to the end of our lives and we didn’t try it, were we going to regret that?” she says. “We both felt that we would really regret not trying some of these things when we possibly could have a family if we did.”
Today, Jared is three years into a treatment to increase his sperm count so the couple can try in vitro fertilization. The treatment costs around $400 a month, and monthly $1,000 payments for IVF will only add to their expenses. Still, the couple is doing their best to save up money to make their dream of becoming parents come true.
While Jared works full-time and Jessica works two jobs—one at a hair salon and the other as a school custodian—the hopeful mother recently took up another gig: standing by busy intersections in her town with a sign that reads, “NEED HELP 4 INVITRO.” Though it was nerve-wracking, Jessica says keeping her thoughts on her future children helped her to find courage.
“My heart started racing and my hands started getting clammy, and I’m just like, ‘Am I really going to do this? Am I embarrassed?’ ” Jessica recalls of the first time she went out with the sign at the end of February. “I’m asking myself all of these questions, and I’m just thinking of my children, imagining what they’re going to be like and what kind of family life we’re going to have. It is bigger than me, it’s for them.”
The reaction from passersby and drivers has been largely positive, Jessica says, with people stopping by to share their own infertility stories with her. She has ventured out to the intersection twice so far, and has managed to raise about $300 in total.
With the support of friends, she has also put on yard sales and other fundraisers, and the couple is also taking donations on a YouCaring page that has raised more than $10,000. If they meet their goal of $14,500, Jessica says she is going to shave her head and donate her hair to wigs4kids.org.
For someone who has worked hard her entire life, asking for help has been humbling, Jessica says. But she is grateful for her friends and community who have shown the couple support, no matter how big or small.
“It’s hard to accept that help, but I have to put that aside. I can’t do this all on my own, I need help,” Jessica says through tears. “But I can do anything for my children… even if they’re not here yet.”