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 72: #NIAW: Different Paths Can Lead to the Same Place

In honor of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week (4/19 – 4/25), we’re doing a five-part series that highlights Resolve’s theme of ‘Changing the Conversation’. Over the past two years we’ve had conversations with people still experiencing infertility, people who have reached their end goals, people who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others, and people who are just entering this ever-expanding world of infertility.  

We’re focusing these episodes on change, how our guests have changed since we last visited them, how their priorities have changed, and how their situation has changed. We hope by doing so we can do our small part to help change the conversation and enhance public understanding that infertility needs attention and to ensure others they aren’t alone in this journey.  

In today’s episode, we hear from two previous guests who took very different journeys but ultimately, made it to the same destination: motherhood.  

Jenna Marinelli was diagnosed with premature menopause and told it would be unable to conceive using her eggs. After accepting this difficult news, Jenna and her husband moved forward with an anonymous donor, who made it possible for Jenna to give birth to three children 

Laura Perez unsure of her relationship but aware that she was getting older, used her Progyny benefit to freeze her eggs at 35. Since then, she’s gotten married and started to think about having a baby. So, she decided to use her frozen eggs and was left with one healthy embryo  

Guests: Laura PerezSenior Director, Claims and Provider Service at Progyny and Jenna Marinelli, Infertility Advocate   

Host: Dan Bulger, Producer at Progyny 

Be sure to check out Jenna’s previous episode season 1, episode 4  and Laura’s previous episode season 1, episode 24 

For more information visit Progyny’sPodcast pageand Progyny’s Education pagefor more resources on emotional support and awareness. 

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

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

Here are some highlights from this episode:   

Jenna’s Story: Premature Menopause, Donor Egg, and Motherhood
4:30  12:48 

Jenna Marinelli: I had no eggs at all, and I was told that I would need an egg donor. It took us a while to get on board but once we did and found an anonymous donor who donated six fertilized eggs, we transferred two and I had twin boys. Then last December, we transferred another embryo and I gave birth to my daughter, Brianna, in August. And we’ve completed our family. 

Dan Bulger: Jenna has a fairly straightforward infertility diagnosis, premature ovarian insufficiency, which ultimately meant that she experienced premature menopause. This meant that she was not going to be able to get pregnant with her own eggs.   

But Jenna is now a mother of three, which at one point, felt like something that was maybe not going to be possible for the Marinelli family. Just because she’s reached a happy resolution, though, doesn’t mean that infertility hasn’t shaped her life. 

Jenna Marinelli: It is 100% a part of me forever. You never forget and just because I have children doesn’t mean that I lose my diagnosis of premature ovarian insufficiency.  

Dan Bulger: It’s safe to say there have been a lot of challenges for the Marinellis over the years. The biggest challenge for Jenna was coming to terms with the idea of using a genetic donor.  

Jenna Marinelli: The whole “you’re not going to be genetically related to your kids” thing was an obstacle that I had to get past, and it did take me a couple of years. But I realized, I don’t really care where my kids come from, they can come from me or whoever else, they’re going to be my kids. 

Laura’s Story: The Progyny Benefit, Frozen Eggs, and Becoming a Mom
12:26  20:18 

Laura Perez: I was actually one of the first few people at Progyny to use the Progyny benefit. I decided at the age of 35 to freeze my eggs as a security blanket. 

Dan Bulger: The process was a huge success for Laura, as it resulted in 15 eggs in storage. And with 15 eggs frozen and a relationship better than ever, the future certainly felt bright. 

Laura Perez: Then, my husband had a freak accident, and it woke us both us. Anything can happen in life, and we decided to see if we can start a family. And we took that chance after he recovered. After thawing and fertilizing the eggs, we only had one genetically normal embryo, which became my miracle baby. 

Dan Bulger: What makes fertility preservation such an incredible resource is the fact that the future is uncertain.  

Laura Perez: I think having the benefit helped me take control of the journey, and it was the best decision I could have made. Not knowing then what I know now, I don’t know if I would have been able to do another retrieval three years after my first and have the same success. 

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

Laura Perez, Senior Director, Claims and Provider Service at Progyny

Laura oversees the provider relations and billing specialists team that supports Progyny members with their claims, authorizations, and bills, and they also help provide clinical outcomes data. She strives in ensuring compassion and understanding is key during each individual’s journey to parenthood is achieved here at Progyny. It gives her joy knowing that she is part of an organization that fulfills dreams and brings happiness to families every day. Prior to joining Progyny, Laura was Vice President, Claims administration at US imaging. She has been in Healthcare Management for the last 13 years and has spent a large portion of her management on business operations related to processing systems, system upgrades and workflows of claims operations. 

Jenna Marinelli, Infertility Advocate

Jenna married her high school sweetheart, Nick, in 2009 & they live right outside of Philadelphia, PA. In 2010, she was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency at the age of 26. Over the next 6 years, she and Nick endured 5 failed IVF cycles, 2 egg donors, & 1 miscarriage. In 2016, she gave birth to two healthy baby boys with the help of an egg donor on their 6th IVF cycle. She is an active RESOLVE volunteer and is very involved in the infertility community. 

Music From This Episode:

Artist: Jahzzar
Track: Good Night
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Track: I Wish
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Track: Clap Your Hands
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Artist: Josh Woodward
Track: Border Blaster Instrumental
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Track: Hollow Grove Instrumental
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Artist: Loyalty Freak Music
Track: care
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/ 

Artist: Meydan
Track: Between
URL: https://freemusicarchive.org/