How Working in Fertility Helped me Navigate my Own Fertility Struggles

by Pam Schumann, Chief Development Officer at Trellis

 For nearly 20 years, I have been leading teams dedicated to improving awareness of and access to fertility treatment. I’m a member of the IntegraMed Fertility leadership team, which manages the largest network of fertility centers in the US.  As the founder of IntegraMed’s Attain Fertility division, we pioneered and delivered a full suite of products and services designed to remove the financial barriers that prevent so many women from accessing the treatment they need. Recently, we undertook an ambitious overhaul of our IT infrastructure to create the first fully integrated, fertility focused ecosystem to serve fertility practices and the clients they serve, including an industry-leading patient portal. I now also serve as Chief Development Officer at Trellis (owned by IntegraMed) and sit on the board of RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, dedicated to patient advocacy.

Pam Schumann, Chief Development Officer at Trellis, Courtesy of Pam Schumann

I feel compelled to state what may or may not be obvious by any biographical or resume-based facts shared here: I love what I do professionally! When your work intersects with some of your greatest joys – children, family, and empowering women – it is sometimes challenging to even frame it as work, particularly when helping give hope where it might have been extracted. Further, providing options when it may appear – in our current health care system, for instance – that options are dwindling is deeply gratifying.

It is one of the most debilitating feelings to feel uninformed or financially and/or physically excluded from a common dream – that of building a family, of bringing life into this world– or to be presented with such a limited scope of options to do so. I, too, have faced the possibility of this dream of building a family challenged when my husband and I tried to start our family. After years of trying on our own, we pursued IVF and were eventually blessed with our son Gabriel, which led to the birth of our entire family – now comprised of me, my husband Rich, Gabriel, and our daughter Maia. It’s personal, it’s complicated and it can be lonely at times to become a family –these are crucial reasons I choose to focus so much of my work on advocacy, awareness and the attainability of fertility options.

Through my personal experience and my work, I see how challenging infertility can be—emotionally, physically, and financially, of course, but also romantically and interpersonally. And it’s not just infertility; many women are also puzzling through other logistics like timing, career, and even outside health concerns or disease that make their decisions complex. Now that science has given us the opportunity to help women address the trend of putting off childbearing, I feel it is my mission to inform people of their options so they can make educated decisions as to what is right for them.

It’s here that Trellis so brilliantly is creating a new paradigm of education, advocacy, and demystifying what is shrouded in too much medical speak and red tape. Obtaining full-scale info on options, risks, and costs should be as easy as a quick Google search. There should be full transparency about fertility and options surrounding it. Everyone deserves to know what is going on within their bodies and how the current science bears out various options to address it. I want to give women the best shot at planning for their someday family. I don’t want women to go through the struggles I did, but instead have awareness about their journey and the knowledge that their path can look different, can be unique.

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