MILWAUKEE – Erin Murphy joked that fandom, evidently, has a price tag. In the best way possible.
Mourning a miscarriage from February 2022, the couple was enduring the emotional and financial strain of five failed attempts to carry a pregnancy to term through intrauterine insemination (IUF) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Baseball proved to be a perfect distraction, particularly matchups between the Brewers and Cubs at American Family Field, such as the game last April 30.
Cassie said Erin has an affinity for raffles, and a full stadium was a good time to play. They turned it into a side adventure, buying $20 of tickets from three separate vendors.
“I was chatting with the people sitting next to us and they were announcing the numbers and Erin was like, ‘Oh my God, I think we won,'” Cassie said. “She hands me the tickets, I’m looking at the ticket, screen, and I just screamed. Erin was like, ‘Be quiet!’ — This is the New Englander in her — ‘Be quiet; someone’s going to (steal) our tickets!'”
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‘We were all crying’
The team employees managing the 50/50 raffle naturally asked what they expected to do with the money.
“It was literally almost to the dollar amount for what we needed to do the next round of IVF,” Cassie said. “We were all crying at the desk with the 50/50 folks. We just felt like if there was ever a universal sign to keep going, it felt like that was it.”
On Feb. 22, the couple welcomed a little boy named Foster, or Fozi for short. On April 3, he’ll attend his first Brewers game when the Brewers open their home schedule against the New York Mets.
An arduous process made easier thanks to a stroke of luck at a Brewers game
Cassie, 35, is a native of greater Milwaukee and a Brewers fan. She and Erin, a 36-year-old Connecticut native, moved from Denver during the early stages of the pandemic.
“Obviously as a same-sex couple, that was our option to have a child,” Erin said. “IVF, IUI, fertility treatment as a whole, it’s universal, but it’s not a super talked-about thing. People aren’t in their break room (at work) saying, ‘Yeah, we’re having trouble getting pregnant, this is what we’re doing to get through it.’ We’ve been pretty outwardly communicative about the process to our co-workers and friends. … We’ve learned how infertility is everywhere, and we’ve heard a lot of people’s stories along the way, straight and same-sex.”
Beyond the expense, it’s an arduous process.
“You have to change your whole life to accommodate the injection schedule,” Cassie said. “For (close to) two years, our life revolved around two-week phases, testing and drugs.”
When Erin traveled for work to New York, they had to arrange for someone who was there to help administer her injections. If Cassie was out of town, neighbors helped Erin.
“It really was a village: neighbors, friends, the Brewers,” Cassie said. “We were so fortunate; it expands your heart in ways you can’t imagine and connects you to people. Never in my life did I imagine I’d have this client who turned into a friend who would be injecting my wife with hormones.”
Out of pocket expenses
Cassie is a photographer and Erin is a construction program manager who does get some financial benefits related to fertility. They were able to receive their care under Dr. Aida Shanti at Aurora Fertility Services in West Allis. But even with Erin’s benefits baked in, they estimated they paid $20,000 out of pocket and would need at least another $15,000 for a next attempt.
With a variety of insurance statutes applying to fertility state-by-state, the couple said they’d met women forced to leave the country for treatment that was within their financial means.
Cassie and Erin say they were prepared to keep trying at the time of the fateful Brewers game, even if they didn’t necessarily know where the money would come from.
“It’s so much of a celebration and it’s this bittersweetness,” she said. “We’ve been on either side. We’ve been on the waiting and heartache side, and been on the holding-a-baby side, which is incredible.”
Fozi’s first Brewers game will be the home opener
The couple sent a thank-you card to the Brewers Community Foundation, which operates the nightly 50/50 raffle, and they said they’ve heard back. Fozi will be getting a care package in the mail.
He won’t be the only one fully adorned in Brewers swag on Opening Day.
“Erin had (already) slowly started to turn into a Brewers fan; she was wearing a Brewers sweatshirt and a Cubs hat (that day in 2022),” Cassie said. “Erin immediately retired all her Cubs things (after that).”