Episode 149: How a Former Googler Formed His Family
Welcome back to season six of This is Infertility! As you may have heard from the trailer, we have a new season filled with new guests, new stories, and new twists and turns but one thing that has stayed constant through all the episodes and seasons – people who want to share their story with the infertility community.
In today’s episode, we hear from Russ Freyman, a former Google employee, who wanted to continue to build his family with his wife. After trying for some time, they found themselves hitting a wall. So, they decided to turn to medical intervention. While they were going through treatment, Russ and his wife kept reminding each other, there was nothing wrong with facing this challenge. People start their families in so many different ways and this was just part of their story. Russ dives into their diagnosis, different treatment paths, how Progyny’s Patient Care Advocate saved the day, and an unexpected twist at the end.
Guest: Russ Freyman, Progyny member
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast, and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at email@example.com.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
Getting a Diagnosis
2:30 – 3:23
Russ Freyman: We’ve been trying for a year, maybe a little less than a year. And, you know, wasn’t happening. We just weren’t getting pregnant. Thankfully, no miscarriages, but we just were not getting pregnant. And so, we ended up talking to the doctor about options at that time. They called it unexplained infertility. And, you know, tested both of us. I had a child already, they kind of had the assumption that it was not an issue with my sperm. But I wouldn’t say that was proven out in any way. It was just an assumption. But as you know, plenty of people go through this unexplained infertility issue. It’s a challenge because you don’t know what you’re solving for specifically.
When the Math Doesn’t Add Up
7:53 – 9:19
Russ Freyman: The thing that surprised me about IVF was the math. Like, you think like, oh, science is going to solve this for you. And it does, in many cases, not all, obviously, that you think science is gonna get you over the line. Like they figured this out, it will be harder, but they figured it out. And, you know, you go through the process, and it’s, you know, first they harvest the eggs. And only some of those eggs are usable, then they try to fertilize those eggs, and only some of those eggs reach the blastocyst stage. You know, the stage where they’re viable embryos, and then they are genetically tested. And some of those are not viable. They’d harvest, you know, in the first phase, they get 13 eggs from her like that’s a great number. And then you’d end up with one viable embryo. And that math? I don’t know. I mean, maybe it’s because I’m analytical. Maybe it’s just, you know, you think about where you started. And you heard it was good news that you got 13 eggs, because some people don’t get that or way less than that. And you end up with this one viable embryo out of it. And you’re like, how did we get here?
The Importance of Having the Right Support in a Fertility Benefit
10:51 – 12:55
Russ Freyman: We were going to Lake Tahoe to meet some other friends and families. And we rented this huge house in Truckee, California, location becomes important. My wife gets an email from Columbia, saying that the doctor changed the [medication] amounts needed. And she realizes we need twice as much as we brought. And she thought she had this down right. We thought we knew what we needed, but we didn’t have it. And Alli got on the phone with her Progyny Patient Care Advocate to just ask for help, I’m talking to her off the ledge at Kennedy Airport, not a great place to add to the stress and to the situation of traveling over the holidays. And you know what they ended up doing? The PCA, the Patient Care Advocate, figured out a way to get a courier to deliver overnight, the extra medication to our Airbnb in Truckee, California. And we woke up in the morning, and there was, you know, that intimidating box I mentioned earlier, but it’s sitting on the stoop at our mountain Airbnb in California. And, you know, I mentioned before, like the stress of the medication aspect of IVF. Like that idea that, like we’re gonna miss this cycle. Like, that’s a real thing. You know, and you’re like, I can’t believe I didn’t take the right amount of medication. And now I’m gonna screw this up, and we’re gonna be, you know, doing this, the next egg harvesting in March, instead of in February, I can’t believe that I did this. And, you know, they saved the day.
There is Nothing Wrong With You
Russ Freyman: She was really passionate about this point like there’s nothing wrong with you know. I’m in the business now I know the stat it’s one in eight couples will go through some infertility. My guess is it’s even higher than that. It’s common, you know, it’s more common than a lot of illnesses and such that we talk about on a way more frequent basis. There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re facing this challenge. And, you know, people start their families in so many different ways and this is just part of the story. That will become your story. It can be hard to accept that at first.
Work at Company You Believe In
15:42 – 16:00
Russ Freyman: Work at a company that you believe in because you’ve had a good experience with them.
I will say that, when I have a chance to get in front of a prospect and talk about a couple of things that I’m passionate about, I enjoy myself. I like presenting Progyny as a solution to companies that want to improve the way they support, women’s health, the way they support, diversity, equity, and inclusion programs that want to improve talent and retention efforts and look at benefits as a landscape to do so. You know, even companies that have high maternity costs, Progyny can help with that too. But I feel a personal sense of passion, and in a way gratitude that I get to take this thing that was so meaningful to my family, I get to take that to market. Hopefully, you look down and the end client, the end user of the benefit is someone that gets to start their family. And that is a really meaningful mission.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Russ is a 20-year veteran of media and technology sales, partnerships, and business development. He began his career as a reporter and then held sales management roles at both the New York Times and Google — where he spent 11 years and was fortunate to access the Progyny benefit to grow his family. Today he works at Progyny as VP of Business Development and educates employers on the importance of having an equitable and comprehensive family building benefit that supports a diverse workforce. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Alli, and his kids Sammy and Riley.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Doctor Turtle
Track: I Snost I Lost
Artist: Kai Engel
Track: Holiday Gift
Artist: Lee Rosevere
Artist: Philipp Weigl
Track: Western Shores
Artist: Lee Rosevere
Track: Not My Problem