This is Infertility is a bi-weekly podcast where we fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give you a new perspective on what it’s really like to go through a family building journey. Each episode dives into the emotional, physical, and financial burdens carried by those who experience infertility on their path to parenthood. Be it IVF, IUI, egg freezing, surrogacy, adoption, etc., the path is never the same and it can be long, painful, and lonely. It’s our mission to give those struggling a platform to be heard, a community connection, and an opportunity to raise awareness of the 1 in 6 who, for many reasons, struggle with infertility.
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This is Infertility

Episode 157: A Teacher’s Quest to Parenthood

We always talk about enacting change on this podcast and that’s exactly what today’s guest did when she felt her journey was at a halt. In honor of National Teacher’s Appreciation Week, meet Tara Stark, a teacher, who shares her experience after being diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, faced multiple failed rounds of IVF, and a pregnancy loss. Tara was frustrated and knew she needed a change. She also needed financial support to afford these treatments. So that’s exactly what Tara did. She sought out a school district with the kind of benefits she saw necessary for an employer to provide, access to a family building benefit.

In this episode, hear why Tara joined Tennessee Fertility Advocates, where she found support, and how she advocated for herself for herself and for family building benefits.

This is Progyny’s first video podcast. This episode is available for listening and watching. Find this episode, future video podcasts, and education content on Progyny’s YouTube.

Guest: Tara Stark, Teacher at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and 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

Here are some highlights from this episode:  

An Expensive Diagnosis

01:24 – 04:35

Tara Stark: I was trying for five months when I went to seek fertility help. I just had a gut feeling that something was off, and I was 34 years old. So, approaching that age, I just wanted to get in and get the ball rolling. I had an AMH of point .2, which is considered to be low. We later, in ultrasound, confirmed that I had diminished ovarian reserve, which is a very, very low egg count. I had been doing a lot of research and joined support groups. And I was learning a lot on my own. We requested an IVF consultation and those doctors confirmed that they thought with my age and with my diagnosis, I should begin treatments for IVF. The doctor said that because of having DOR, I would need to plan on having several retrievals. She told us to plan on spending at least $50,000 out of pocket because I did not have fertility coverage. And that just sent me into a spiral. My husband and I were debating, “are we going to do this? Are we going to spend this kind of money on something that isn’t even a guarantee?”

Nothing Seems to Be Going Right

04:56 – 06:56

Tara Stark: We started on the first day of school in August of 2021. My first round was canceled, because I had one dominant follicle growing. My second round of stims was canceled because I had no response. So, I started in August. I didn’t actually have a successful retrieval until November of 2021. So, we got four mature eggs, two of them fertilized, and two of them became blastocyst. We transferred the first one in January of 2022. That failed. And that was crushing, because we worked so hard to get these embryos. And then we tried the second transfer in March of 2022, which did lead to a successful pregnancy but ended up being a missed miscarriage. We had previously seen the heartbeat; we had been told that the growth and the heartbeat looked great. Everything was perfect. We went in for our nine-week appointment. When the cinematographer was looking at the screen, her face went blank. And I just knew something was wrong. And then there was silence. And she said, “I don’t see a heartbeat.”

Changing Employers for Fertility Benefits

07:40 – 12:19

Tara Stark: I was so angry that my school system didn’t provide fertility coverage, because I knew that the county right next to us had amazing fertility coverage. I didn’t even want to work for a company anymore that didn’t have fertility benefits.

Dan Bulger: The lack of coverage means facing these challenges completely alone without support or funds. Tara decided to change jobs. Her new employer, Metro Nashville Public Schools had really great fertility coverage through a benefit called Progyny.

Tara Stark: Since having Progyny, I’ve had three retrievals and only one has gotten us to a transfer. But I definitely would not have been able to do three retrievals without this insurance. Now, I’m doing what I know is going to protect my mental health, allowing time to grieve and leaning on my support system.

Becoming a Catalyst for Change

13:58 – 17:39

Dan Bulger: Tara has taken some of her frustration and channeled it towards advocating for herself and for others who are going through the same thing, in a really remarkable way.

Tara Stark: I joined Tennessee Fertility Advocates in June of 2021. It was a really nice support system to have to know that other people are going through this platform to ask questions. Once I saw these other people, you know, going to their employers and asking for the benefits. I actually did the same. I emailed with the finance director and my county, I reached out to board members, talked to my admin representatives in the county. They were pretty honest in the fact that they wouldn’t have the money to do it. They actually just added Progyny. I’d like to think my voice had an impact on that.

Dan Bulger: What’s next for Tara? Well, at the time of this interview, she was gearing up for another retrieval round. And she and Brian have also started looking into another option as well.

Tara Stark: We haven’t made any type of decision. But my PCA gave me a list of egg banks that work with Progyny. And we’ve spoken with the counselor again, just to try and wrap our head around it. But the awesome thing is that I never wanted to look back and wish that I would have done more and having Progyny allows me to do that. It allows me to have comfort knowing that I did everything I could.

Dan Bulger


Dan Bulger
Producer at Progyny

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.

Tara Stark family


Tara Stark
Teacher, Infertility Advocate, and Progyny Member

Tara is a hardworking and passionate wife, dog mom, aunt, sister, and teacher. She lives with her husband, Matt, and their dog, Jordy, in the Nashville area. Tara received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Illinois State University and her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Bethel University.  She has been teaching for fourteen years, and for thirteen of those years, Tara taught at the same school where she made great memories and met some of her closest friends. However, the financial burden of fertility treatments was too much to continue paying out of pocket, and after 2 failed IUIs, 2 canceled rounds of IVF midway through, 1 retrieval, 2 transfers, and a devastating miscarriage, Tara and Matt knew that in order to keep trying to expand their family, they needed fertility coverage. Four days after learning that their baby, which she and Matt had worked so hard to create, no longer had a heartbeat, she applied to a neighboring school district that had Progyny benefits. The following day, she landed both an interview and a job offer. Since having Progyny benefits, Tara and Matt have been able to continue their journey, and although they haven’t had success yet, they both take comfort knowing that no matter what happens, they will be able to look back and say they did everything they could to grow their family; a statement that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Progyny.

Music From This Episode:

Artist: Jahzzar
Track: Clap Your Hands

Track: Dew

Track: Fibonacci

Artist: Andy G. Cohen
Track: A Perceptible Shift

Artist: Steve Combs
Track: Symphony_No_1_II_Truth