For Dr. Laurence Jacobs, helping people become parents has been his life's work. One couple who benefitted from his expertise in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility is Dana and Kira Crosby.
The Crosbys met in late 2004 while they were living in Boston and developed a friendship that later turned into a romance. The romance blossomed, and in January 2007, they got married in Provincetown, Massachusetts, surrounded by family and friends. The Crosbys knew when they got married that they wanted to be parents and were exploring their options prior to relocating to the Chicago suburbs.
"We moved here because Dana got a promotion and we actually decided that since the property values were so high in the Northeast we wanted to make a go of it in another part of the country," said Kira. "We thought this was an opportunity for us to afford to buy a house and have a baby. We also thought this was a way for me to stay at home and raise the kids while Dana worked."
Shortly after moving to Crystal Lake ( they currently reside in Algonquin ) they met a lesbian couple at an LGBT barbecue who have since become close friends. "We talked to them about wanting to start a family and they recommended that we go see their doctor [Dr. Jacobs] so we scheduled an appointment with him," said Dana.
Jacobs started out as an OB/GYN but switched to reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the mid 1980s after having gone through fertility issues himself. He now has four kids of his own.
"I gave up my practice and went to the Mayo Clinic for several years to do a fellowship specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility and I've been doing this ever since. I've been a doctor for 35 years and for the last 25 years I've been dealing with infertility and reproduction exclusively," said Jacobs.
He added, "My philosophy has always been about inclusivity and it's been very satisfying to help the LGBT community in this way. This was back in the day when at least 50 percent of reproductive endocrinologists weren't seeing lesbian or gay couples. It's really important to get the word out that these services are available to the LGBT community. That's why several years ago I developed a website called Rainbow Reproduction so they would have a resource that is specific to their needs. I'm very proud of the website and am delighted that my practice is very popular in the LGBT community."
Overall, about 85 percent of Jacobs' patients are straight couples and of the 15 percent that aren't about 90 to 95 percent of them are lesbian couples or single women and the rest are gay men. He has helped thousands and thousands of people become parents over the course of his career.
During the Crosbys first appointment with Jacobs at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, they instantly knew that he was the right person to help them become parents. "We felt very confident that we were going to be successful after that meeting," said Kira. "Everyone at his office was extremely friendly and we got great service from all the medical practitioners and support staff there. You feel like you are a part of a family while you are at his office."
Jacobs has always been a fan of educating people about fertility issues and for the past ten years he's given his patients his email address so they can contact him at any time. That was one of the big factors that sealed the deal for the Crosbys. "I remember walking out laughing thinking that there was no way that a doctor would answer my email and the man [Dr. Jacobs] actually does," said Dana.
The vast majority of the patients Jacobs sees are women between 35-45 ( like the Crosbys ) because people are generally waiting longer to start a family. Kira wanted to carry the baby so at first Jacobs started with intrauterine insemination ( IUI ), i.e., artificial insemination, using her eggs and a regular cycle with a sperm donor from California Cryobank.
The Crosbys chose California Cryobank after looking at a number of options because of the depth of information that is available on their website about each sperm donor. The donors write essays, record their voices, share what their major was in college, share childhood photos and provide extensive information about their medical background as well as their family's medical background.
Jacobs made several IUI attempts; however, after some tests they discovered that Kira had some medical issues that might prevent her from getting pregnant.
Since Dana is six years younger than Kira, Jacobs decided that it was best to switch to in vitro fertilization ( IVF ) and use Dana's eggs. Kira still wanted to carry the baby so Jacobs mirrored both of their cycles, stimulated Dana, retrieved her eggs and fertilized them with the donor sperm and the result was several embryos. Jacobs placed them inside of Kira and she got pregnant on their first attempt. Kira gave birth to their son Maverick in Nov. 2009 and a year and a half later they decided to have another baby so they went back to Jacobs.
Kira had medical issues crop up during her pregnancy so Jacobs told the couple that if they wanted to try again Dana had to carry the baby. They did IVF with the same donor and Dana's eggs to create embryos. Dana got pregnant after the first attempt as well and gave birth to their son Ryker in May 2012.
"Dana was actually pregnant with twins [for] 10 weeks when we suddenly lost one," said Kira. "Both of our first attempts were successful. We were very fortunate because this isn't usually the case with couples trying to conceive."
As they navigated the fertility waters, the Crosbys became friends with another lesbian couple that went to Jacobs for fertility treatments and their newborn daughter is the Crosbys' goddaughter. Since moving to the Chicago area, the Crosbys' circle of friends has expanded to include a mixture of lesbian, gay and straight couples with kids. They have grown to love the Midwest because of the people they've met. Everyone has been warm and welcoming, which is a stark contrast to their life in the Northeast, where they didn't know their neighbors. Initially, the Crosbys were skeptical about the reception they would receive whey the relocated, however, they have been pleasantly surprised at how much love and support they've received over the years.
"Dr. Jacobs made our dreams come true," said Dana. "Our children are the light of our lives and we can't imagine our lives without them," said Kira.
"They are a remarkable couple and what was refreshing about them is they were very open to doing whatever it took to help improve their chances of conceiving a child. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to sit across the table from couples like Dana and Kira and look at the smiles on their faces," said Jacobs. "I've been blessed being a parent so I know what it's like and I'm just very happy to share that opportunity with many other people. They were delightful to take care of and are big advocates for helping other lesbian couples seek out the information and reassure them about the whole process and that is so important.
"Instead of thinking about becoming a parent and wishing and hoping for it make a commitment to get the information so you can make it happen," said Jacobs.
"My advice to other couples is don't keep from pursuing parenthood because it seems mystifying and impossible because people are becoming parents ever day going this [IUI or IVF] route," said Dana.
"Just take the first step and make an appointment with a fertility doctor like Dr. Jacobs to see what your options are," said Kira.
See www.infertilitydoc.net and www.rainbowreproduction.com for more information.