A Progyny Member Panel: Different Paths to Parenthood 

smiling couple looking at baby

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), held each year in the last week of April, is a time to honor the many ways we build our families and raise awareness about the barriers that many face. Sharing personal experiences is a powerful way to build community and help break the stigma around these challenges. In honor of NIAW, we hosted a conversation to shed light on the different paths to parenthood through the unique perspectives of Progyny members.

This webinar featured:

  • Melissa Maldonado, VP of Client Operations, Progyny
  • Sonya Heer, Progyny member, Delta Dental
  • Lakia Holmes, Progyny member
  • Joyelle Fleming, Progyny member, Genentech

Embarking on a Family Building Journey

National Infertility Awareness Week is a movement to empower individuals and change the conversation around infertility. There is power in community, and by sharing experiences we can normalize the conversation around family building. This webinar featured Progyny members navigating three unique journeys – unexplained infertility and diminished ovarian reserve resulting in multiple rounds of IVF (Sonya’s story), utilizing donor sperm and IVF to become a single parent by choice (Lakia’s story), and fertility preservation when facing a cancer diagnosis (Joyelle’s story). Their stories highlight the many feelings you may experience when facing a diagnosis or challenges on your path to parenthood, share how you can find support along the way, and most importantly, emphasize that none of us are on this journey alone.

The start of any family building journey can feel overwhelming and it may be hard to share what you are experiencing, especially if there are challenges. Everyone’s experience is unique with a different level of knowledge around what to expect and that is totally normal. Our guest Lakia was intending to freeze her eggs to preserve her fertility for the future. Instead, she was diagnosed with a blocked fallopian tube and had to face the reality that IVF would be her best chance at having a child in the future. Armed with this knowledge, she made the choice to not wait and to become a single parent. Sonya was aware of the potential need for fertility treatment as her sister went through IVF. However, that still didn’t fully prepare her as she experienced a much different journey, including an unexplained infertility diagnosis followed by a diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve and 8 treatment cycles to get her happy ending. Our guest Joyelle had a different path, requiring treatment in an effort to protect her fertility when navigating a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. The moderator of the conversation, Melissa, also shared her experience with infertility and navigating loss, and how sharing her journey along with talking with Progyny members every day helped reinforce that everyone has a unique story to tell.  

A key first step, is to find the clinic that is right for you and a doctor that you trust and who will listen to you throughout treatment. Whether you know you want to move forward with fertility treatment or just found out you will need ART (assisted reproductive technology, which includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled) to conceive, your clinic will play an important role.  

Support Throughout Your Journey

Knowing that everyone’s journey can be so different, the support you need may vary from person to person. Although each of our panelists had different stories, there were some common themes when it came to the support they used during their journey. There are many different outlets to turn to and you should never be afraid to speak up for what you need. Some places to turn to include:  

  • Your clinical team: After finding the right clinic for you, whether that’s based on location, success rates, scheduling convenience, etc., that clinic will be a pivotal part of your journey. There may be difficult discussions that happen after test results or the end of a failed treatment, and your clinic should always be there to discuss what is the best next step for you and support you regardless of what you choose. Feeling supported may sometimes even mean switching clinics, which Sonya and Melissa both shared they did to continue to feel like they had a chance of the best possible outcome.  
  • Partner, friends and family: A fertility journey can be overwhelming and it’s important to have people you can go to that will be there for you. Whether you are moving through your family building journey as a single parent by choice or with your partner, there may be times where you have to lean a little more on the people around you. This was the case for Lakia who shared how she really leaned on her friends to help with fertility medication injections as she did not have a partner alongside her for her journey.  
  • ERGs and support groups: Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and support groups are great outlets to take advantage of when you want to speak to others who may have had a similar experience. If you feel comfortable, ask your employer about any employee resource groups that are available. If you would rather search for support outside of work, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is also an amazing resource and you can search their site to find support groups in your area along with online resources. Additionally, Instagram and Facebook are great channels to find communities and meet people who may be on a similar journey.  
  • Your Progyny Patient Care Advocate: For eligible Progyny members, from the initial onboarding throughout the entire journey, your Progyny Patient Care Advocate (PCA) is there to help you through any ups and downs. Your PCA is a dedicated, unlimited support for you as you navigate through the different conversations with your doctor or any new treatment cycles. Progyny PCAs are trained to provide highly personalized care across each member’s unique fertility and family building journey, including single parents by choice, LGBTQ+ family building options, and oncofertility. They can also connect you to a team of clinical educators who are fertility nurses and embryologists that can answer any clinical questions you may have about your care. 
  • Practice self-care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your mental and emotional health. Whether it’s going to therapy, journaling, making social plans, or keeping your daily routine, identify what brings you joy and helps ease your stress along the way.


1. Did you tell your manager when you were going through treatment? Any tips for how to bring it up and keep with your work schedule?

It is important to begin conversations with your manager or supervisor if you feel comfortable. Since your manager or supervisor will be the one managing your workload and time off, it may be helpful to begin an open conversation with them about your plans. If you are not comfortable having this conversation with your manager first, you can go to your human resources department. They will be able to answer any questions that come up about your benefit and how your benefit ties in with your leave policy or other medical benefits that could be critical to you in your journey. In addition to offering this information, they can also be a good advocate for you when you decide to have a conversation with your manager or supervisor. 

2. How did you handle seeing pregnancy announcements from friends and family? I want to be happy for others but often find myself thinking how it’s unfair and wondering when it will be my turn. 

There may be a day where these announcements begin to hit a little harder than they did before. Going through fertility treatment is hard, and having to navigate how to handle pregnancy announcements from family and friends can add even more stress to the situation. While it is difficult to share joy with people in these moments while you are struggling to build your family, it is also important to understand that many people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. There is a lot that goes unspoken in the infertility community, so in times like these it is important to fall back on the support you have. 

If you have any other questions related to this webinar, please don’t hesitate to reach out to education@progyny.com. If you are a Progyny member and have any questions about your benefit or coverage, please call 888.597.5065.  

Additional Resources

  • This is Infertility: explore our podcast to hear more of our Progyny member’s journeys, including the below episodes featuring our panelists to dive further into their stories
  • Episode 174: Becoming a Single Parent by Choice: IVF + a Sperm Donor
  • Episode 175: Unexplained Infertility, Diminished Ovarian Reserve, and Switching Doctors
  • Youtube: explore videos from industry experts talking about different treatments.
  • Emotional Support Resources: Check out additional resources that can help you navigate your journey.

Interested in sharing your story to help raise awareness? Share your Progyny experience here