Birdies, babies and hope

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An Oswego couple familiar with the steep financial and emotional costs of infertility treatment recently held their eighth annual fundraiser for families who cannot afford in vitro fertilization.

Melissa Trader, 35, went through several IVF cycles before giving birth to a healthy girl, Jordan, now 5. While she and her husband, Todd Trader, were able to finance the treatments, they set out to help other couples even before they had conceived.

The couple, who are in the golfing business, launched the nonprofit Birdies for Babies and held its annual golf fundraiser Saturday at the Tamarack Golf Club in Naperville. The event typically raises about $20,000 for the winning couple's treatment at Fertility Centers of Illinois.

The Traders said they look for couples without health insurance, who are trying to have their first baby, are healthy and willing to help raise funds for Birdies.

"It's one of those things where they're rooting for us as well," said Brooke Rice, 34, of Spring Grove, who is this year's recipient along with her husband, Travis Rice.

With the money raised Saturday, the Rices will be able to afford another IVF cycle.

Illinois mandates fertility insurance coverage but with a number of stipulations, including that an employer have more than 25 employees. The average cost of an IVF cycle in the United States is $12,400, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

"Believe it or not, having that financial support –– in addition to the support system of the organization and the families who are part of it –– eases a lot of the other issues that go with infertility," said Todd Trader, 37.

Dr. David Cohen, who heads the reproductive endocrinology and Infertility department at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said the "emotional toll is palpable for both partners."

"I tell people this is a very expensive process, not only financially but emotionally," said Cohen, whose practice includes fertility preservation for cancer patients. "We are here to hold your hand and help you and take care of as many details as we can, but the fundamental desire to have a child (and worries about not having one) … I can't fix that."