Episode 169: Transformative Benefits: An Inside Look at an Amazonian’s Family Building Journey
In the LGBTQIA+ community, options for family building are often limited by the ways employers choose to define infertility, and who can gain access to benefits. Today’s guest, Stephanie Kalili, always knew she wanted to be a mom, but she didn’t know what this journey might look like for her. After meeting her wife and building a life together, Stephanie knew she was interested in conception through reciprocal IVF. The only problem was access and affordability.
Luckily for Stephanie, she happens to be employed by Amazon, an employer that offers inclusive family building benefits through Progyny.
In fact, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, honors an organization each year with the Hope Award for Access. This award is given to an organization that is really moving the needle and expanding access to fertility and family building care – and this year this honor goes to Amazon.
Guest: Stephanie Kalili, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
Finding Inclusive Family Building Options
03:09 – 07:36
Stephanie Kalili: I met my wife; she is the most personable person I’ve ever met — she loves children and loves people. And so that was something we talked about early on when we met, we wanted to be parents, wanted to be moms, that was important. So, there were a lot of conversations. Our dream was always to do reciprocal IVF. My wife did not have a desire to carry, not that I really ever wanted to, but I was definitely open to it. And so, we wanted to both somehow figure out if we could both be a part of that process.
Dan Bulger: Reciprocal IVF is a really wonderful option. IVF is where eggs are retrieved from the ovaries joined with sperm in the lab, embryos develop, and an embryo is transferred in the hopes of achieving a pregnancy. For same sex female partners — this can be done a little differently. Instead of the eggs being retrieved from one person and an embryo placed back into that same person. The eggs are retrieved from one partner and then the embryo is transferred into the other partner. That way one partner is providing the egg and has that genetic link, while the other partner carries the pregnancy and has that link. It’s a really great option that many people want to utilize, but sometimes can’t. It’s IVF, after all, and that means it can cost a lot of money.
Stephanie Kalili: I mean, it’s a huge financial burden. And so that was a conversation we had, like, realistically, is this something we can afford to do? You know, what is our main priority in creating a family? Is it doing reciprocal IVF? So that was not really something that we thought we were going to be able to do, until we then found out that we were covered through Progyny benefits, which are phenomenal. And again, like I said, not something that we thought we were going to be able to do, but definitely what we wanted to do to create our family. I think as soon as I joined Amazon, it was probably about two and a half years ago, almost three years ago, when I joined, you know, as I was scrolling through the benefits options, and looking at fertility options, I didn’t know if they were inclusive fertility options. I know a lot of times; you must somehow prove or show confirmation that you had been trying for at least a year or whatever the case is. I started connecting with our PCA, from Progyny, who we connected with immediately. Asked a couple of questions like, “Would we even be able to do this as a two-mom family and what that could look like in regard to showing fertility or infertility.” So, I was very happily surprised about what our potential options were for the both of us.
The Journey of Reciprocal IVF
10:15 – 15:10
Stephanie Kalili: Jasmine is a physician’s assistant. So, she actually did her own stimming and she let me do one of them. It was more intense than we thought, you know, we didn’t realize at the time that while they were measuring the size of her eggs, she would have to go into the clinic, like every single day, for almost a week and a half straight. But ultimately, like the actual processes of stimming was pretty easy, as I said, because Progyny Rx just sent it straight to our door. So, we didn’t have to go anywhere to navigate getting it and then also administering it. Once they were the right size, we were able to retrieve them. We were able to send all of the eggs out to get tested, and then start my process. So, for my process, we started on birth control for a month, which was something again, I wasn’t expecting to have to do, but I was like, okay, I guess this is part of the process. We did that for a month. And then we were able to start our actual transfer. About a week before the transfer we started numerous medications, oral medications, and then also shot medications and stimulations. And then transfer day, of course, we got to do our trigger shot the night before, super excited, going into our transfer. We were able to watch our embryo, you know, physically being transferred, and being implanted, which was very cool as well. And then that entire timeframe about a week before, up until technically 12 and a half weeks was progesterone and oil shots every night.So, my son is Nakoa. He’s my favorite little human being, he looks so much like my wife, we call him her twin, because he definitely looks a lot like her, which I love to see in him every time I look at him.
Benefits That Make Life Happen
15:17 – 16:47
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.
Hello my name is Stephanie Kalili and I use she her pronouns. I am a Site Leader for SAZ2 which is an Amazon Sub Same Day (SSD) facility. I am originally from Nanakuli, Hawaii and I received my Bachelor of Arts in Global Leadership in 2015 and then received my Master’s of Education in 2017. I then worked at Washington State University for 3 years as a Residential Education Director and as a Case Manager in the Dean of Student’s Office. My wife then got accepted into a Physician Assistant Program, so we moved back to the Midwest which is where I started my Amazon career. I worked at 2 large AR fulfillment centers before having the opportunity to join SSD which is my current network. It was then that I discovered Amazon’s amazing fertility benefits through their partnership with Progyny. My wife and I always wanted to be moms, we just didn’t know where or how to start that process. Luckily we were able to do reciprocal IVF where we utilized my wife’s eggs and I carried our son through pregnancy. We are so grateful to Amazon and Progyny for this incredible benefit and want to share our experience with as many people as we can!