Episode 63: The Frustrations and Hopes of an Unfinished Fertility Journey
When experiencing something as challenging as infertility, it can be helpful to hear stories, advice, and guidance from those who have been through it. However, we usually hear from people who were successful in growing their families. But what about those who are still going through treatment, and are uncertain of where their fertility journey will lead them? How can you make it through without setting expectations of having a picture-perfect ending?
In today’s episode, we hear from Kelly Partner, who wanted to share her story while the ending was still unknown. Kelly and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over a year, which has been filled with rounds of IUI, a male infertility diagnosis for her husband, and multiple pregnancy losses. Kelly shares the emotions, frustrations, hopes, and fears that occur during the process of trying to conceive while not knowing what the future holds.
We also hear from Dr. Genevieve Neal-Perry, a Reproductive Endocrinologist and infertility specialist at UW Medicine, who gives us an overview of miscarriages, chemical pregnancies, and breaks down the benefits of ICSI and PGT-A testing for IVF. She also discusses how long a couple should wait before trying to conceive again after having a miscarriage.
Guest: Kelly Partner, Progyny member
Expert: Dr. Genevieve Neal-Perry, UW Medicine
Host: Brandi Guthrie, National Account Manager at Progyny
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
False Hope and Losses
12:59 – 14:02
Kelly Partner: I was determined that when we got pregnant again, that I wanted to be able to experience joy with that pregnancy and not be so consumed with worry and anxiety and I knew, I’m an anxious person by nature, that would be there and that would be present in any future pregnancies we had but I just wanted to put some work in to make sure that I could also still feel the joy and the happiness in that.
A couple months later, we got our second positive pregnancy test and, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I was super Zen about it. I was happy I felt the joy and I did not feel a whole lot of anxiety. And I think part of that came from some sense of naive like, “this can’t happen again”. Like, we deserve to have this one work out because it was so hard the first time, like the universe owes us an easy you know, this is that now we’ve now we’ve made it.
Brandi Guthrie: Unfortunately, this time the couple experienced what is called a chemical pregnancy. Which is sometimes thought of as a very early miscarriage.
A Discovery and a Change of Insurance
Kelly Partner: Carter looked into what kind of insurance he had, just out of curiosity, and we discovered it was excellent coverage through Progyny. It was kind of ironic as I’d been listening to this podcast for the past few months, yet we hadn’t looked into his insurance to see it he had it. When he pulled up the membership guide, I thought, “Oh my goodness,” this is the insurance company that runs the podcast! It was a funny coincidence.
Brandi Guthrie: Kelly’s husband works at Microsoft, and Microsoft employees have coverage for fertility treatments through Progyny, and yes, Progyny is the company behind this podcast.
But people can’t change onto a new insurance during the year willy nilly, they need to either wait for open enrollment, which is usually at the end of the year, and the new insurance kicks in on January 1, or they can change insurance midyear if there is what is called a “qualifying life event”.
Qualifying life events include a marriage, having a baby, or losing health coverage.
Well the couple was already married, obviously they weren’t going to be able to have a baby in order to switch insurance, and Kelly loved and valued her job.
But that is when something happened. A true catastrophe that changed everything.
An Open-Ended Journey
Brandi Guthrie: Sometimes we record with our guests, and then the episode airs weeks later and we update you all on the progress that has happened since the recording, but this time we want to keep this story here, in this moment… actually that was Kelly’s idea.
Kelly Partner: As an avid listener of this podcast and other podcasts or reading things, I personally find meaning in everybody’s stories, but as someone who is still struggling through this, sometimes it gets hard just hearing about happy endings. It was important to me to share this now while we’re still kind of on this rollercoaster and while our ending is still TBD, we want to give other people listening comfort that we are in the same boat right now. Yeah, my husband and I want to share our story and share it now.
Brandi Guthrie: So, we’ll leave Kelly and Carter’s story right there, to be determined. But there is one certainty for the future of their journey. No matter how this new cycle works out the couple is going to have support from Carter’s employer for whatever comes next.
As a National Account Manager, Brandi helps employers bring new life to their fertility benefits. Prior to this, she was a Provider Account Manager where she spent years working with the nation’s leading fertility doctors and clinics in the Progyny network. Her expansive background gives Brandi the perspective, experience, and understanding that she needs to help employers and their employees reach their goals of family.
Kelly lives in North Carolina with her husband of eight years, Carter, and their two cats, Cassie and Lucy. Prior to taking time off for fertility treatments, she worked for several years as a fundraising professional for two local children’s hospitals. Kelly and Carter try to speak openly about their miscarriages, reproductive healthcare, and fertility treatments in order to increase awareness and understanding. They are expecting their first child in June 2020, thanks to Microsoft, Carter’s employer and Progyny!
Dr. Neal-Perry received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Dartmouth College in 1988 and her MD PhD in Pharmacology from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1998. She completed an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, the Manhattan Campus for Einstein College of Medicine in 2002, and a subspecialty fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) at Montefiore Medical Center and Einstein College of Medicine in 2005. Dr. Neal-Perry was the Director of the REI fellowship training program (2011-2015) and the Associate Dean for Diversity Mentoring (2010-2015) while at Einstein College of Medicine. She moved to the University of Washington to join the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in February 2015.
Dr. Neal-Perry currently holds joint appointments in the University of Washington Medical Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where she serves as the Division Chief for REI and the Section Director of the Onco-Reproduction Unit.
Dr. Neal-Perry is a leader in women’s healthcare and reproductive science. She serves as an ad hoc reviewer for more than 20 journals and she is an editorial board member for Endocrinology. She directs basic science as well as clinical research that is focused on the effect of age, hormones, metabolism and nutrition on neuroendocrine function, the pubertal and menopausal transition and the modifiers of menopause-related symptoms. She has published more than 50 original research articles, research abstracts, book chapters and review articles with her mentees and scientific peers. Her research has been recognized by Faculty of 1000 as important contributions to scientific literature (2009 and 2015). She was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NIH, SREI, ASRM, the American Federation for Aging Research, and other private foundations. Dr. Neal-Perry’s current research program is funded by the NICHD and private foundations.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Kai Engel
Artist: Andy G. Cohen
Track: Bathed in Fine Dust
Artist: Doctor Turtle
Track: Curse You Fingers edit
Artist: John Bartmann
Track: Tender Moment
Artist: P C III
Track: The Soft Approach