A Ferndale woman used IVF to have a family—and to help others in Michigan have kids, too

Jess Krzyczkowski and her twin sons, Franklin and Henry, who were born through IVF in 2017. Photo Courtesy of Jess Krzyczkowski.

By Lucas Henkel

May 20, 2024

A Michigander built the family she always dreamed of thanks to in-vitro fertilization—how lawmakers want to protect her children and others.

“When I was growing up, I was sort of fed the idea that anyone can get pregnant anytime you have sex, but that wasn’t happening for me,” said Jess Krzyczkowski.

The Sterling Heights native said that she and her husband started trying to have a baby shortly after getting married in 2017. After nine months of charting ovulation cycles and trying to convince dismissive doctors that something was wrong, the couple met with an infertility specialist.

“We had male factor infertility, which means that the problem was with the sperm,” said Krzyczkowski.

The doctor told the couple that they had “about a 2% chance of conceiving naturally,” and recommended in-vitro fertilization—otherwise known as IVF—which is a medical technique where an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body.

IVF became a political talking point earlier this year when the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos in Alabama would be considered children under state law. Legal scholars worried that the ruling set a precedent for similar decisions across the country, in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Two months after the Alabama Court ruling, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Michigan Family Protection Act, a package of bills that make it easier for Michiganders to start a family and be treated equally under the law. Prior to the act, children born in Michigan through assisted reproduction measures, like IVF and surrogacy, lacked clear legal protections and connections to their families.

“The Michigan Family Protection Act educated our entire legislature about how important protecting infertility health care is, and on how many children are born through assisted reproduction and surrogacy,” said Stephanie Jones, who founded the Michigan Fertility Alliance in 2019 and helped lead the effort to address the multiple issues surrounding fertility in Michigan.

A Ferndale woman used IVF to have a family—and to help others in Michigan have kids, too

The Krzyczkowskis during a family outing in 2023.

Starting IVF was a big decision

“It was incredibly expensive. None of it was covered by insurance,” said Jess Krzyczkowski. She recalled that the first bill she received was around $16,000. Krzyczkowski also paid another $6,000 to freeze her extra embryos to preserve them during the IVF process. The total cost for the Krzyczkowskis—which included the cost of the required medications—was nearly $28,000.

Despite the overwhelming cost, Krzyczkowski said that she and her husband were lucky to have the emotional and financial support of friends and family.

“My sister set up a crowdfunding campaign and we had a lot of family that were very generous. We could not have done it without them,” said Krzyczkowski.

Once they gathered the funds to begin IVF, Krzyczkowski began taking birth control to stimulate her ovaries to create eggs. The couple ended up with 10 viable embryos and had two of them implanted inside of her uterus.

Getting pregnant from the first round of IVF is incredibly uncommon. Women over the age of 30, like Krzyczkowski, typically have to go through two to six rounds of IVF before they get pregnant.

“We’re so lucky. We implanted two [embryos] and they both took,” said Krzyczkowski.

Now the parents of 4-year-old twin boys, Franklin and Henry, Krzyczkowski and her husband decided to donate some of their remaining embryos to help another family in their efforts to have children.

“I am truly so grateful that [IVF] exists and that it was able to help us complete our family,” said Krzyczkowski. “I would be so sad without these boys, and we’re so lucky we were able to do it.”

Beyond the good fortune of having financial and familial support, the Krzyczkowskis had another key component in their favor—where they live.

Here in Michigan, Democrats currently hold the majority in both the state House and Senate, along with the governor’s office. Their support of reproductive freedom has protected family planning rights for Michiganders since Roe was overturned, and their stances on the issue align with the majority of people who live in the Mitten State. In 2022, Michigan voters passed the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative, known as Proposal 3, making reproductive freedom a constitutional right in the state.

Meanwhile, at least 13 states have had bills introduced this year that give embryos the same rights as living people—making the IVF process, along with the storage and disposal of frozen embryos, legally dangerous for patients and health care providers. Republicans hold the balance of power in most of these states—but not all of them.

Stephanie Jones said watching Gov. Whitmer sign the Michigan Family Protection Act filled her with a sense of pride and relief—but she couldn’t help remembering that even with the current political makeup in Michigan’s government, the fight is not over.

“As we’re signing this, we know what is ahead of us. We know that these attacks on our reproductive freedoms are not stopping,” she said.

“We have a very important election coming up where what started as an erosion can turn into a landslide. If people think what happened in Alabama was not a foreshadowing of what is yet to come, they’re really being naive—because it is happening.”

Author

  • Lucas Henkel

    Lucas Henkel is a multimedia reporter who strives to inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The 'Gander, Lucas served as a journalist for the Lansing City Pulse.

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This