Presented by Future Family
If life deals you blow after blow and you feel like you’re falling apart, who is your ally?
For many of us, spouses, families, and friends can keep us grounded, but with infertility the process can be so overwhelming, long, and complex that loved ones are sometimes not enough.
Ask Christina Contreras, who had had ten miscarriages but couldn’t, wouldn’t give up on her dream of having a baby. She had had one child naturally in 1997 and wanted another child with her new husband. After so many losses, in 2017 she accepted that she needed IVF help and found Future Family.
Future Family offers a variety of services for women and couples going through fertility issues, including access to IVF financing and fertility coaching. The coaching provides dedicated support that goes beyond what is available at many clinics.
It wasn’t until Contreras was linked with her Future Family Fertility Coach, Nicole Fry, that she realized what she had been missing: someone who would guide her on her very difficult journey.
Fry’s deep knowledge of the fertility process, empathy, and unwavering support helped motivate and inspire Contreras during the toughest moments of her life.
Contreras says: “Nicole made herself completely available to me. She was very supportive throughout the whole process. She walked me through the medications and the procedures. She would video chat with me and my friend who was helping me with shots. If I was just at my breaking point, she would talk with me for an hour. Nicole helped me get through it all.”
Fry’s deep knowledge of the fertility process, and her empathy and unwavering support helped motivate and inspire Contreras during the toughest moments of her life.
Today, despite three more miscarriages and two more harrowing years on her infertility journey, Contreras is the blissed-out (and exhausted) mother of newborn Thalia Jade.
Fertility Coaching: It’s All About Education and Empathy
For Fry, being that lifeline for her Future Family clients, helping them through confusion, anxiety, and fear, is what makes her job so important to her. About Contreras, Fry says: “When I heard that she delivered, I cried. She stayed so strong throughout the entire process.”
Fry believes that her role is to ensure that “every single client’s path is successful and stress free. Though we can’t impact mother nature, we try to make sure that there are no medication errors, no clinic errors, that we have done everything that could be done.”
Fry is a registered nurse and has been a Fertility Coach since Future Family’s launch in 2017, and is currently also the Head of Care. She manages the team of fertility coaches as well as the relationships with clinics, egg- and sperm banks, and pharmacies.
Before that she worked as a nurse/IVF coordinator at a San Diego fertility clinic for more than five years, with a specialty in handling egg donor, sperm donor, and gestational carrier patients.
All of the Fertility Coaches at Future Family have prior clinical fertility experience. Many have also experienced infertility themselves. They bring to their coaching not only their medical knowledge and personal compassion, they also share their own “I’ve been there” struggles.
Before joining Future Family as a Fertility Coach, Laura Weppler had worked as a nurse in fertility clinics for five years in the Chicagoland area. She and her husband also pursued fertility treatments, including IVF, while there.
She says: “I, too, had unsuccessful attempts. I had a miscarriage. Ultimately, I had two beautiful children, separately, through IVF. It was a very emotional experience and I have first-hand information about how hard it is.”
Weppler says that she sees her Fertility Coach role as an extra layer of support for clients. “They have a doctor and clinical team, but if communications at the clinic are not totally clear or there’s missing information, we educate clients and answer their questions.
“In the moment, while people are at a doctor visit, things can be overwhelming and maybe patients can’t absorb all the information at once,” Weppler says, “especially those who have never been to a clinic before. They meet with the doctor, nurse, and maybe a financial person. They get an onslaught of information. After the appointment, I talk with the client and we debrief about what was discussed.”
Fry agrees that the Future Family Fertility Coaches can help bring clarity to the patient’s decisions and process but they don’t try to usurp the doctor or clinic staff.
She says: “We don’t make a medical decision for the clients. If clients have a medical question about their treatment, we direct them to the clinic. If clients are ill, we direct them to an urgent care facility. But we can explain the process every step of the way. We can advise on normal limits on lab results. We can do medication training and coaching. But we are not medically monitoring the patients. Ninety percent of our job is psycho-social support.”
Honor your feelings. If you’re sad, frustrated, anxious, or overwhelmed, acknowledge that.
Weppler says that she often answers questions like: What are we seeing on my ultrasound? How can I interpret that? What does this [bloodwork] level mean? “I’m also here as a sounding board. I help them vent about how awful the process is, can grieve with them when times are tough and celebrate when things go well.”
Fertility Coaching Options
There are different coaching plans available through Future Family.
There’s a program that helps couples trying to conceive and need answers.
There’s a membership program for women or couples new to the fertility treatment process, to help prepare for IVF or egg freezing, including support, if needed, in setting up donor services.
Fry says: “Seventy percent of the women coming to us know that they need help but don’t know where to begin. With our membership program, we pair them with a Fertility Coach. We help them prepare for fertility treatment and find a top provider. We can also help with pre-testing and other steps.”
She continues: “Should they need IVF and want a Future Family loan, they pursue that process, but not everyone who comes through the membership program needs IVF. In those cases, we feel great that we’ve helped these clients find a clinic and helped them move forward on their fertility journey.”
The majority of Future Family clients are like Contreras—they join Future Family to take a loan, and the loan includes the coaching program, because the company believes that support will help clients succeed in their family-building goals.
People can take out fertility treatment loans to cover costs for anything needed in the cycle such as IVF clinic visits, procedures, medication, travel, donor eggs, donated sperm, lab work, and cryopreservation. The minimum loan is $2,000; the maximum is $50,000.
If clients get a loan, the coaching is for the term of the cycle/treatment. New coaching relationships starts with a “welcome consult.”
Fry says: “We go through a health history review with the clients, their hopes and dreams, what their future fertility goals look like (how many children they want), if they have embryos. We have very different conversations with someone who has never done any fertility treatments versus someone who has done four (treatment) cycles and comes to us beaten down emotionally and psychologically.”
Fry says clients turn to the fertility coaches for support depending on their own level of comfort—i.e. “I just need you when I need you”—and that might be a little or a lot. “Some clients are independent and only need one or two hours of coaching,” she says but “there are some clients whom I’ve worked with for 40 hours through several loan/coaching programs over many months.”
The Fertility Coaches offer customized support. Fry says: “They’ll tell us how we can best provide care for them. We might hear: ‘I want to talk to you after every appointment,’ or ‘I only want to talk to you when something goes wrong,’ or ‘I’m a night-shift worker; please call me only after 11 pm.'”
Compassionate Care Goes A Long Way
Contreras says of fertility coaches like Fry: ” They sacrifice for their clients, making themselves available 24/7, and care about their clients, they make you feel important and valued, and they help you find your voice if you don’t know that you are supposed to speak up for yourself.”
Not all clients have happy endings like Contreras, but if they want to build their families, Fry says, “We want clients to look back and think, ‘I’ve done everything I could have done.’ We give them the tools and answers they need to feel empowered.'”
3 Tips for Fertility Journey Self Care and Support:
- If you need information, ask. If a doctor or other health care practitioner discusses something with you and you don’t understand, ask in the moment, follow up by phone, or write down the questions and ask at your next appointment. Avoid depending on “Dr. Google,” which may often present inaccurate or irrelevant information for your specific situation.
- Honor your feelings. If you’re sad, frustrated, anxious, or overwhelmed, acknowledge that. Allow yourself to feel those real emotions and when you’re ready, think about the source and what your next step can be to try to take even a tiny step forward, into a more positive place.
- Find allies. Avoid isolating yourself, thinking that no one can understand or help. Reach out to a fertility coach, counselor, family member, best friend, or infertility group to help you get through the really difficult physical, emotional, and psychological moments of your journey. It’s okay to admit that you need support—we all do!
Find out more about the Future Family coaching plans here.
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