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 8 who, for many reasons, struggle with infertility.

Episode 107: LGBTQ+ Family Building: Becoming Mothers During COVID-19

June is Pride Month, and this year we have an update from a couple we featured previously: Samantha and Jessica Pace. They shared their journey in this episode:  Episode 75: LGBTQ+ Family Building: 10 IUIs Before IVF Success 

When we left off, Jessica and Samantha were expecting their first child through IVF, after going through 10 failed IUIs first. Excitedly awaiting their daughter, the Paces had no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was just around the corner, and their first taste of motherhood would be very different than they expected. 

In today’s episode, Jessica and Samantha give us an update on motherhood, while Dr. Paula Amato of ARC Fertility highlights family building options for same-sex couples.  

Guests: Samantha and Jessica Pace, Progyny Members 

Expert: Dr. Paula Amato, Fertility Specialist at ARC Fertility 

Host: Dan Bulger 

You can find Jessica and Samantha Pace’s first episode here.  

For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast pageand Progyny’s Education page for more resources.  

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcastand use the #ThisisInfertility.     

Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at thisisinfertility@progyny.com. 

Here are some highlights from the episode: 

IVF, COVID, and Motherhood
1:24 – 3:00 

Dan Bulger: When the Paces decided to try for a baby, they obviously knew they were going to need some help. So, they selected a sperm donor and they attempted multiple rounds of IUI. Unfortunately, round after round of IUI didn’t work out for the couple, so they found themselves needing IVF. IVF has considerably higher success rates than IUI, but it’s also considerably more expensive. Fortunately, for the Paces, they had fertility coverage through Jessica’s employer, fertility coverage by Progyny, the force behind this podcast, and with the support of her employer and Progyny, they were able to utilize reciprocal IVF in order to have their baby girl. We’ll dive into what that means with Dr. Amato in a bit, but first, we just want to share how the Paces are doing today. Part of the pieces experience included COVID-19, so we asked what it’s been like to have a baby amidst the storm. 

Samantha Pace: It can get lonely because we always envisioned that when we had our first child, they would get to meet all their family. She has been meeting all her family through FaceTime, which is nice, just not what we expected. But of course, we’re happy she is here! We can’t wait for her have a bit more face to face time with our family so we can see everybody love on her. It’s been challenging, just for her family’s sake, but it feels good nonetheless. We try to look on the bright side of how we didn’t have to worry about people bombarding us, we could just spend time as a family first. It’s bittersweet. 

Same-sex Family Building Challenges 
6:09 – 7:21 

Dan Bulger: Let’s face facts — when it comes to family building, things can be more difficult for same sex couples. 

Dr. Paula Amato: LGBTQ+ people often face barriers when they’re pursuing fertility treatment. They, as you say, often don’t fall under traditional definitions of infertility, which is usually unprotected sexual intercourse for 12 months if you’re under 35. And for six months if you’re over 35. Obviously, that doesn’t apply to a same sex couple. Even when there is insurance coverage for infertility, often the policies will have exclusions for same sex couples. So it largely depends on where you live, because the anti-discrimination laws are jurisdiction dependent. In some places, it might actually be legal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. And it tends to be more expensive. Obviously heterosexual couples can conceive, usually, at no cost. And often, LGBTQ+ people need medical assistance. So especially if they don’t have insurance coverage, then it can be more expensive for them. 

 

Host

Dan Bulger, Producer at Progyny

Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the last six years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he as interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility. 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. 

Guests

Samantha and Jessica Pace, Progyny members

Jessica and Samantha Pace met in 2009 while in college playing basketball for UT Martin. They always remained friends, but grew into more during their senior year of college. Once they were together, they knew they’d never have to search for love anywhere else.  

They’ve now been married for over three years, and have been trying to conceive since January of 2017. After diving head first into 10 cycles of IUI between the two of them, they were introduced to Progyny by their employer. Progyny gave them hope throughout their journey, and they continue to share their journey with those out there still searching for that same will to keep going. 

Paula Amato, MD, ARC Fertility

Dr. Amato specializes in the science of caring for patients with infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, and menopausal issues. Her research interests include stem cells, metabolic-endocrine interactions, and environmental impacts on reproductive health. Dr. Amato finds her work intellectually stimulating and highly rewarding. The science of reproduction and connecting with individuals and families are what inspired her to pursue a career in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Dr. Amato loves the Pacific Northwest and says that OHSU is a great fit for her. In addition to outdoor sports, reading, independent music and film, and ethnic food, Dr. Amato enjoys spending time with her partner and their two dogs.