It was their dream to build a family together. Even while hospitals and clinicians focused resources and efforts on treating Covid patients, a local couple didn’t give up.
Now, two years later, Michelle and Mike Goldstein, have some happy news to share.
2020 was a sobering time for the couple. In March of that year, the couple had just received word that all new fertility treatments were suspended indefinitely. The guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine were put in place to help divert critical supplies to intensive care units and emergency rooms as hospitals prepared for the influx of Covid cases.
“Going through fertility is so stressful as it is,” Michelle Goldstein said. “This piece no one could have ever predicted.”
Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Kara Goldman had to deliver the difficult news to her patients.
“(It is) impossibly hard because every month that someone is trying to conceive and doesn’t, there is this cyclic grief,” she said.
“This is such a stressful process as it is and one step at a time,” Michelle Goldstein said. “And then – boom – you can’t even do those steps.”
If anything could help soften the blow — just as Mike and Michelle were hoping to begin another in-vitro fertilization cycle — it was a friendship formed in middle school. The best friends-turned-doctor-patient duo faced the disappointment together.
“We have gone through all of life’s ups and downs together,” Goldman said. “It is challenging to take care of a friend, but it also is a privilege.”
After a three-month delay, the Goldsteins resumed treatments only to suffer a devastating loss in early 2021.
“I had a 17-week miscarriage,” Michelle Goldstein said.
In September 2021, the couple gave it one last try.
“It was my last egg retrieval financially,” Michelle Goldstein said
“The moment of her embryo transfer, I remember thinking this was her final attempt at IVF, this was it,” Goldman said. “This was the least effective cycle we had had all along. She had had the lowest number of eggs retrieved.”
It was a long shot, but after four years and with Dr. Goldman by their side they had success.
“I can’t describe what it has been like,” Goldman said,
Along the way, there were a few bumps in the road.
“I got Covid in December. I was 13 weeks pregnant. I was petrified,” Michelle Goldstein said.
“It was a very, very long journey to get to this point,” Mike Goldstein said.
But on May 17, Michelle delivered not one but two healthy baby girls after two years of navigating fertility treatments during a pandemic.
“It’s surreal to me,” Michelle Goldstein said. “I look at them and I can’t believe they are mine.”
“I look at this as if our two babies are miracles and there’s a miracle out there for everybody,” Mike Goldstein said. “Do not give up hope.”
The Goldsteins’ hands — and hearts — are full. Twins Braelyn and Shylah will likely be best friends, just like the two best friends who put their heads together to bring the fraternal twins into the world.
“To see this woman who I knew from the time we were 12 years old that she wanted to be a mom, there are no words to explain what this feels like,” Goldman said.
“I’m so grateful that I had her and had her to help me when I needed it at any hour helped me to fight for me,” Michelle Goldstein said
Alliance for Fertility Preservation has resources for patients who need to preserve fertility.
Resolve is a national organization that provides exceptional support to patients struggling. They have a number of local support groups.
Insurance & IVF
Illinois is one of the only states with an IVF insurance law and a fertility preservation coverage law. Only 14 states in the US have laws requiring private insurance companies to cover IVF, and Illinois’ is one of the most expansive.
Illinois is also one of only 12 states with a law requiring private insurance companies to cover fertility preservation for patients facing cancer treatment or other fertility-threatening treatment and the only state in which Medicaid covers fertility preservation for patients with cancer or other fertility-threatening condition.
More on the insurance laws at resolve.org’s Financial Resource page
Chicago Coalition for Family Building provides grant funding patients can apply for.
Team Maggie’s Dream is a grant organization for patients with cancer who need financial support to cover their fertility preservation care.