Why Patient Success: Navigating Fertility
Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.
“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have kids,” remembers Joe Zboch, Luma’s Director of Marketing. He and his wife Emily, both the youngest in their families, hold fond memories of growing up with siblings. When they married in 2017, the couple planned to grow their new family in the subsequent years.
Two years and one cat later, Emily and Joe felt ready.
“We were in our mid-twenties and never imagined the process would be anything but easy,” Joe said. “We hadn’t really talked about infertility.” After a year of trying, the Zbochs realized they needed extra support for their pregnancy journey. In March 2020, they were matched with a fertility specialist.
“It was an emotional step to realize we can’t get pregnant on our own. What I didn’t expect was that I’d also have to advocate for my pregnancy every step of the way, even despite the healthcare specialists,” said Emily.
Emily started fertility treatments in March 2020, which was a tumultuous time to receive healthcare of any kind thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. She learned quickly that she had to be proactive in asking for the tests and treatments that would work for her, as some of the doctors she encountered were dismissive and her care team changed frequently.
“We were assigned an IVF nurse to shepherd us through the process, which is very time-sensitive. Our nurse was supposed to call us and keep us up-to-date with the medications and deadlines,” said Joe. “When we stopped hearing from her, we found out she had been reassigned, but no one had told us. Emily had to call every single day for two and a half weeks until we were reassigned a nurse,” said Joe.
The fertility treatments were physically intensive and draining to Emily, a pre-K teacher. “To have to get on the phone and manage my care after a long day in the classroom is hard enough, let alone adding the fatigue and stress of the IVF shots,” she remembers.
Joe and Emily took it one day at a time, focusing on their relationship and building teamwork skills as they faced this difficult daily challenge. “We each had our areas of the process we would manage, but it was so hard to be the middleman between insurance, nurses, genetics testing, medication, IVF, billing, etc,” said Joe.
After nearly two years of treatment, Emily and Joe welcomed a son, Remy, into the world. “He is worth everything we went through and more,” said Emily. They hope to continue to grow their family in the future.
Joe and Emily’s fertility journey has left an indelible mark on Joe’s work at Luma. “I hear so many stories from patients who, just like Emily and I, had to be their own advocate in a difficult season of their life. I’m proud to be working with Luma to get healthcare out of the way of care–those touchpoints can literally change lives.”