From Infertility to Advocate: Kelly’s Journey to Parenthood

The Partner family

Kelly Partner shared her story on Progyny’s podcast, This Is Infertility, back in 2020. At the time, she and her husband Carter were in the middle of their fertility journey. She talked about their hopes and frustrations, and how they discovered that they had access to Progyny’s benefit through Carter’s employer, Microsoft. 

Kelly and Carter started trying to get pregnant in 2018. After two miscarriages, a visit to the OBGYN, and a workup at the fertility clinic, they decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI). Two unsuccessful rounds later, they switched tactics to in vitro fertilization (IVF).  

Seven eggs were retrieved, but unfortunately only one made it through growing and testing. Instead of transferring just one embryo, they opted for another retrieval, and that’s where we left off with Kelly and Carter back in 2020.

Here’s what happened next… 

After the process of preparing for retrieval, Kelly found she’d only produced two more eggs, and it left the Partners back where they started, with a low egg count and disappointment.  

They could try another retrieval the following month or convert from IVF to IUI. They called their Patient Care Advocate (PCA) at Progyny to figure out their options. Kelly explains, “It was great to know that we only used a fraction of our points for the stimulation cycle and weren’t ‘out anything’ for the retrieval that wouldn’t be happening. And that we could easily convert it to the IUI and still have plenty of points left on our plan to do additional IVF cycles, which we assumed we would be needing after that.” So, after talking it through, they decided to try one more IUI.  

Afterward, they planned a quiet getaway in the mountains, trying to leave behind the stress and sadness of the fertility journey. While there, Kelly started to feel some cramps and nausea. She thought it was odd, but tried to put it out of her head, as they deliberately hadn’t brought any pregnancy tests on the trip. 

When they returned home, she took a test, and it turned out positive. But Kelly and Carter had been through two pregnancies before, and they didn’t feel emotionally invested yet. They went for a blood draw, and their physician told them that it was unlikely to be a viable pregnancy. This process repeated again and again over the next 10 weeks, and, against all odds, the pregnancy progressed. 

Spoiler Alert: today, they have a little baby girl named Cece. 

Keeping it quiet 

Kelly and Carter had been private about their fertility treatments – only a handful of close friends knew. “We just weren’t ready to share about our pregnancy losses,” Kelly says. “I remember I had a very hard time when people were aggressively optimistic or positive during our IVF portion, including our pregnancy too.” 

Sharing your story can be difficult, especially with those who haven’t experienced infertility. Kelly explains, “I think most people who haven’t gone through it, assume that IVF equals a guaranteed baby, which we know is just not the case for so many different reasons.” 

Eventually, they felt comfortable sharing the news with friends and family. They also took that opportunity to share details about their journey as well. Their baby announcement included the numbers that told their story: 

  • 2 miscarriages 
  • 42 doctors’ appointments 
  • 48 vials of blood drawn (from Kelly)  
  • 3 from Carter (plus one spit tube) 
  • 2 sedated procedures 
  • 48 self-administered shots 
  • 1 IVF retrieval  
  • 1 IVF retrieval/converted IUI 
  • $71,000 worth of medical care 

Thankfully, because they had Progyny they paid very little out of pocket. Kelly explains why they announced their pregnancy this way: “We just couldn’t tell people we were simply pregnant without sharing the whole story.” 

Sharing Their Story 

After announcing their pregnancy to friends and family, Kelly and Carter decided to share their story with a larger audience during National Infertility Week. They included an infographic with their numbers as well as a link to their original podcast interview

After National Infertility Awareness Week, Kelly joined RESOLVE, the national infertility association, to participate in congressional phone calls. They were advocating for more state-mandated funding and other family building legislation. Kelly served as a patient representative, along with fellow patients, physicians, and others in the infertility space. 

“So that was pretty wild,” Kelly says, “to sit at my dining room table with a really active baby in my stomach, talking about why everybody should have access to what we had access to simply because we were fortunate enough to work for an employer who has good insurance for their employees.” 

Speaking of Microsoft… 

Kelly says, if it weren’t for Microsoft offering the Progyny benefit to its employees, “We definitely wouldn’t have our daughter.” Even if they could’ve afforded it, all the decisions, wrapped up with the finances, would’ve worn them down much quicker.  

“Everybody was just so easy to work with,” she says. “So even when we had to convert the IVF to the IUI, within 24 hours, all that paperwork was done. I didn’t have to do anything but send a quick email to our representative.” 

Everyone’s infertility journey is different, but Kelly’s story and others like it can help to educate, inspire, and spread hope – to show you that you aren’t alone, that the unexpected can happen, and that hope is never wasted.  

Here you can listen to part two of Kelly’s journey:

For more information about Progyny’s benefit, see here. For additional resources on a family building journey, check out Progyny’s Education page.