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What NJ Teachers Facing Infertility Need to Know

shutterstock_305246072We all know the integral role teacher’s play in the lives of children and we hope to leave a positive and lasting impression on them throughout their lives. Being a teacher takes patience, commitment, creativity and a true love of children. Unfortunately, for some of us, having our own children isn’t that easy. But for the nearly 115,000 teachers (Pre-K through secondary) in New Jersey, we are fortunate to have a benefits package better than most that covers most of the basic care and treatments for infertility.

Not long ago, I was one of the nearly seven million Americans who experienced infertility. I was 36 years old and in my 12th year of teaching in East Orange. Michael, my husband, and I were ready to start our family. We had been married for four years and during that time I had experienced some difficulty conceiving. After failed attempts, my OB/GYN referred me to Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ). I was extremely relieved to learn that as a New Jersey teacher, my benefits plan covered the costs of embryo transfers, ultrasounds, routine monitoring and blood work, as I knew IVF was going to be a costly endeavor and that many companies don’t offer any insurance coverage for IVF.

RMANJ has one of the highest success rates in the country – above 60 percent—but I knew that my challenges would not be easy to overcome given my age (nearing 40) at the time, my previous miscarriages and the added challenge of being a diabetic. RMANJ and their doctors remained positive and took every measure possible to ensure that I could have the child that my husband and I always wanted. It was the unconditional support of my fertility doctor and nurse who listened to my concerns and quelled my fears, sadness, disappointment and stress. In fact, it was nice to know I was not alone – a recent report from RMANJ, Infertility In America, showed that of those who experienced infertility, 55 percent found it more stressful than unemployment. However, with a great network of family and friends and supportive physicians, they encouraged me not to give up and continued to offer more options.

I went through four IVF cycles, using the services through my benefits package, before I decided to go beyond what was covered and look into Select Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (Select CCS) – a service offered by RMANJ that screens the embryos to ensure that they are chromosomally normal and that the healthiest, strongest embryo, with the best chance of survival, is implanted. Nine months after my transfer, at the age of 40, I gave birth to our daughter, Anna Olivia.

It took four years and five IVF cycles, but Michael and I finally had our beautiful family.

Tips for teachers who may be starting or going through fertility treatments this school year:

  • Understand what your insurance benefits will cover, depending on your marital status and know that out-of-pocket expenses, for the basic services, will be minimal. But also ask your doctor about how you can improve your chances through testing, such as Select CCS, to potentially help limit the need for multiple IVF cycles.
  • Do your research to find the fertility clinic that is right for you—look at their success rates not just for pregnancy, but for live births. RMANJ always said their goal was one healthy baby at a time, I knew they were focused on the delivery, not just the pregnancy, and that they would be my partner for the entire process.
  • Meet with the doctors and nurses to ensure you feel confident and comfortable speaking with them and that they thoroughly explain the process, from beginning to end, pointing out any things that could delay the cycle along the way.
  • Make sure they can cater to your needs with things such as early morning monitoring hours, which are critical for teachers and even holistic care such as counseling, yoga and acupuncture.
  • Be transparent with the principal and supervisor at your school. Let them know that you are receiving fertility treatments and will have to be late to work some mornings to have the necessary monitoring performed.
  • Talk with those you trust about the treatments you receive and the emotions you’re feeling — this can include your fellow teachers, family or friends. Check to see if the fertility center offers peer-to-peer support groups so you can speak with people who are going through the same process you are.

You will have days that are good and days that challenging, but most importantly, stay positive and don’t give up hope.

 

Article published in NJ Teachers Magazine



Dr. Shefali Shastri

Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey Springfield, NJ

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