We’re very passionate about women's fertility about here at Incite.org. We invest in not one, but two incredible female-founded companies doing really important work in the women’s health and fertility space.
Future Family, founded by Claire Tomkins, is the first subscription fertility company, offering easy plans for IVF and egg freezing, with on-demand medical support through concierge care.
Kindbody, founded by Gina Bartasi, provides a full range of health, fertility services, and treatments for women. The company is reinventing women’s healthcare for the modern woman, starting with fertility and wellness services offered through a national network of boutique locations.
Fertility personal and unique, and most importantly, not only a women’s issue. After years of trying, one miscarriage, months of ovulation tracking, and countless failed pregnancy tests, my husband and I had seriously started to consider what our lives would be like without children. Then, we were very fortunate to work with Future Family after they launched a new membership program earlier this spring. Now, as I enter the second trimester of pregnancy, I had the opportunity to sit down with the folks at Pregnantish and share our learnings, heartbreaks, and celebrations.
We like to tell people we’re a Tinder success story! My husband, Byron, and I met in March 2015 and were married shortly thereafter in December 2016.
Like some women I know, becoming a mom was not something intrinsic to my existence. In fact, I had never considered having children until I met my Byron. In hindsight, I realize that I had just never met the right person.
We started trying to have children right away. I was 35 and he was 30, and I knew that we had a bit of a time situation on our hands. After going off the pill and trying for 11 months, we did get pregnant in late 2017. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended with a miscarriage in early 2018. While of course this was devastating, my doctor assured us that not only was this common, but that we should be happy that we were able to get pregnant. So many couples struggle trying to conceive, and we should consider this a silver lining in our journey to having children.
After taking a few months off in order to let my body heal, we continued to try naturally month after month. Friends and family speculated that we just needed to take some time off, go on vacation, or even stop working out so much in order to become pregnant. My OB/GYN was pretty hands-off assuring us that we were young and healthy and should keep trying naturally. We weren’t losing complete hope at this point, but the entire process was unenjoyable and grating on us as a couple. We started to seriously consider what life might look like without children in the picture.
We discussed fertility treatment on more than one occasion, but we assumed it would be extremely costly. Most people we knew who had gone through IVF made quite a bit more money than us and even they weren’t successful on their first or second rounds. Additionally, as someone who’s been incredibly healthy my entire life, I wasn’t sure I wanted to opt into a new fertility path that would require so much medical attention.
At the end of the day, the process of trying to get pregnant had become so hard on us, I wasn’t sure we could handle the added stress of undergoing fertility treatments. I wasn’t confident that I, personally, had the emotional resilience to go this route.
In retrospect, it’s sort of surprising that we didn’t think to just connect with a fertility clinic or doctor, but I think we just remained hopeful that we’d actually be able to conceive naturally. I joined Incite.org as Chief of Staff in April 2018, about two years into trying to conceive with my husband. Our venture fund primarily invests in mission-driven startups. I knew that Future Family was in my company’s portfolio, but at the time it was an egg freezing and IVF finance and support program. I knew I was past the point of egg freezing and that IVF didn’t seem right for us.
In May 2019, Future Family launched its Membership program—which was marketed as an introduction to concierge fertility coaching.
As investors, we received a preview email for their product launch. Claire Tomkins, the CEO, said the new program was for couples trying to have kids, perhaps not having much success but who had not yet visited a doctor.
This program would provide everything needed for a guided fertility journey – a dedicated fertility nurse, a roadmap, a referral to a clinic/doctor and if needed, a future financial plan. I knew this was exactly what my husband and I needed!
The idea that we could get real answers, support and guidance were the next steps we were ready to take.
Through Future Family’s program, I got connected to an amazing fertility nurse coach and we set up a 30-minute video conference. I had received an intake survey in advance and sent back detailed answers. I was happy and surprised that she had not only read everything in advance, but almost immediately suggested: “Even if you and your husband are incredibly healthy, we need to do comprehensive fertility testing on the both of you.”
As a woman struggling to get pregnant, you almost always assume something is wrong with you. Our nurse coach reminded me both parties needed to have their fertility health checked.
She made it clear that there are many tests you can take to determine where the problem could be when you’re trying to conceive without luck. In 30 minutes, she walked me through all of these different possibilities and paths that I had not heard about from my friends and family, online, or from my former OB/GYN. It was really just a matter of setting up some time to be tested at a fertility clinic. For so long I had assumed we only had three options: IVF, adoption, or opting not to have children. But in fact, our nurse coach explained we had many different options that were available to us.
Within a week, she had referred me to a local fertility clinic and my husband and I went to our first appointment (she provided us three clinic referrals, but we went with the first one she recommended, which had five-star reviews everywhere we looked—and it was the right choice for us). After having a very lackluster experience with our former OB/GYN, we were not prepared for the platinum experience we were receiving. Not only did I have an incredible, proactive clinic, but I had our coach by my side helping me along the way.
The fee for this membership was $199 for five 30-minute video conference sessions. Not only do you get the information and coaching, you get a dashboard to see all of your results, and your nurse/coach can help make sure the right information gets to the right people.
My husband and I had our full set of tests at the end of May/beginning of June. We found out that my uterus, ovaries and follicles were all in good shape, but my husband had low(ish) sperm count and low(ish) sperm modality.
The fertility doctor said: “You guys are the perfect candidates for IUI!” which honestly wasn’t even something we had heard about until my first conversation with our fertility coach. This goes back to the assumptions we had that our only options involved getting pregnant naturally or going straight to IVF. All we really needed was a little intervention with the help of science. We got pregnant with our first IUI cycle in July 2019!
The fertility clinic that Future Family connected us to is truly best-in-class. You are monitored weekly from the time you decide what fertility path you are taking to about Week 8 when you are “graduated” back out to an OB/GYN. The fertility doctors were so attentive, so informative, that I was actually sad to leave their practice; but they gave me a great referral for a new OB/GYN that I’ve now been with for about five weeks.
I have actually used only three of the five video-conference sessions with my fertility coach, although we still connect over email. She assures me that I can use those other sessions for whatever I want over the course of this pregnancy.
I’m so happy that my company, Incite.org, is a firm that invests in female entrepreneurs and mission-driven companies. Future Family makes something affordable for a population of people that often can’t afford it. The concierge service makes navigating fertility treatment seamless. I’m elated to lead a portfolio of investments where women’s health is a priority.
We invest in many types of companies— consumer products, renewable energy companies, enterprise software—but when it’s a company in which we can have first-hand, personal experience in such a positive way—as a “user”—that’s super exciting.
I’ll always be grateful for what Future Family has helped my family to achieve.
To be connected to a fertility nurse who understands how unique every person’s pregnancy can be, and can help demystify this space, was so valuable. It blows my mind that we were connected [to our fertility coach] in May and weeks later we were pregnant! I do realize this fast trajectory might not be everyone’s experience, but I’m confident the support we received will be invaluable to any couple trying to conceive.
The concierge fertility nurse/coach helped my husband and I so much that we now have a great network of doctors to work with if we have similar fertility issues in the future. But, if we need to pursue IVF for a second child, we would definitely use Future Family again to finance those procedures. The fees would be well outside what our PPO coverage would pay for and I would feel most confident using Future Family as a stress-free way to pay.
As I sit here 14 weeks pregnant, I reflect on our journey to get here. I wanted to share our learnings, heartbreaks, and celebrations to remind people that it really does take a village. When we meet our baby girl next year, I know this part of our family story will be cherished.
Find out more about Future Family here.
Photo credit: Zach and Rosalie Photography