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At the start of 2018, I had a 14-year-old son and was newly married. It appeared all the stars were aligned — and my husband and I were ready to have another child. At 39 years old, I was healthy, at my ideal weight and thriving in my career. There was no reason to “wait just a little longer.”
I did my research. I knew that it takes a lot of couples a few months to get pregnant, but most achieved success within six months. After six months of trying without any success, I contacted my doctor to get some tests. And those tests led to an infertility diagnosis with one possible solution for conception: in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“The World Health Organization defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” The World Health Organization goes on to say, “Infertility generates disability (an impairment of function), and thus access to health care falls under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.”
Unfortunately, the expensive IVF treatments — about $15,000 to $20,000 without any guarantee — weren’t included in my Genesys healthcare coverage. My husband and I discussed various options to fund the IVF treatment, including applying for grants for women with infertility diagnosis and even delaying the purchase of a much-needed new home.
I discovered that a growing number of couples are experiencing infertility. Despite this, most companies’ policies and initiatives focus on those who have had success in their family-planning journeys — and on issues like duration of parental leave, post-leave integration and work-life balance.
Making the Invisible Visible
Fast-forward to 2019, my husband and I continued to pray for spiritual intervention but still had no success. We sought advice from multiple fertility specialists and, each day, I continued with a brave face despite my personal struggles. It seemed as if pregnancy and childbirth are highly visible and often celebrated, but fertility challenges tend to be invisible and silent.
Initially, I was hesitant to share my infertility struggles, but took a bold step after a Genesys benefits meeting with managers. I approached a Benefits Manger with my story and asked about the possibilities of Genesys including infertility coverage. I was surprised at her openness to share her same struggle with infertility; she recommended I send a request for change in coverage to our benefits email distribution list.
I researched the impact of infertility insurance benefits on the employee-employer relationship and discovered that one in eight couples experience an infertility diagnosis, according to the CDC. This helped me muster up the courage to write a letter to the Benefits Team for infertility coverage. Especially after my research, I was proud of my letter but not sure if speaking up would invoke any change.
When benefits enrollment for 2020 opened, my friend and co-worker Lukau Matuka called me screaming, “Sister, Genesys is now offering infertility coverage!” I was driving at the time and literally pulled my car over in disbelief. I told her I will never know if my email to the Benefits Team sparked this flame, but I was so thankful to work at a company that’s pro-family and provides access to coverage for reproductive medical treatment.
Today, my husband and I are expecting; we’re 10 weeks away from welcoming our new addition. This experience further supports my belief in knowing that real power and change come from people who are willing to be courageous and share their stories.
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