I’m excited to connect with Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, award-winning blogger, the 2 Week Wait, and writer whose work has been featured in Time Magazine, Forbes, the Huffington Post, Parents Magazine, ScaryMommy, and The Mighty, among many others (including GoStork!). Having experienced infertility herself, Jennifer is passionate about women’s health and patient advocacy, and has been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR, FOX, NBC and BBC America, as well as featured in the documentary Vegas Baby. We’ve loved getting to know Jennifer since our launch and believe she has valuable insight to share with intended parents.
1. As you are officially a wonder woman, tell us more about your many roles! From comedy to content, you’ve done it all.
I always say that while my background is diverse, they all somehow complement each other! Well, at least in my mind they do! The shortest possible version is I graduated college as a theater major, was performing comedy at night but corporate by day (to pay the bills and get insurance). When I met another comic and got married, that’s when we found out we had unexplained infertility. From there, everything in a sense fell into place. I was able to combine by humor, writing skills, and administrative background and apply it to educating others on reproductive health, advocating for infertility, and third-party family building access for all and work with so many companies, individuals, and entities that wanted insight into how to connect with patients.
2. How did your passion for the fertility industry begin?
Being affected by infertility personally was the starting point. I began my blog, The 2 Week Wait, to cope with fertility treatment and when I saw sharing my journey (and making jokes along the way) seemed to resonate with others, that sparked something in me. Then, when I found out that only 18 states have fertility insurance coverage laws, and eight states have fertility preservation laws for iatrogenic (medically-induced) infertility, it made me angry. The World Health Organization has called infertility a medical diagnosis, so why do only 18 states help those who are dealing with it? That’s unacceptable.
3. What advice would you give to intended parents just beginning to think about IVF or surrogacy?
My advice is to shift from “If” you’ll be parents to “How” you can be parents. While not everyone is guaranteed the outcome they imagined or hoped for, if you’re able to afford it and are open to other avenues like donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogacy, or adoption, there are so many options that become available to you that help you expand your family.
4. During your years of experience related to the industry – both working at providers and writing about it independently – have you gathered any key tips you can share for providers to best help intended parents with their journey?
Patient experience matters. Everything from the front desk, to the waiting room, to how you make your patients feel. Reproductive Technology can only vary so much (if at all) between clinics – whether it’s IUI, IVF, etc. That’s why the key differentiator is how a patient feels at your clinic and in your care. Do they feel heard? Is every staff member empathetic and patient? Do you offer ancillary services? Are there attentive check-ins and follow-ups? Patients are coming to you with something personal and painful. Every aspect matters.
5. Yes, times are tough right now, but time together is the silver lining, right? Do you have any funny (or favorite) stories from quarantining with the family?
I’m one of these annoying people who always try to find the positives in everything. I actually annoy myself with it sometimes! Even though there really has been a tremendous amount of strain universally on everyone (especially those looking to build their families!), in my mind, I feel like the whole world in a sense needed to stop and reboot. I also think the pandemic forced healthcare to modernize and quickly, which is a good thing. Before COVID, one in ten patients used telehealth. Now, well, you can imagine! Doctors had to get it together quickly and figure out Zoom!
As for funny or favorite stories during quarantine, my favorite is when I forced my family to make a pretend movie preview, which I shared on my Instagram account. It never ceases to make me smile and is a good example of applying humor to cope.
6. Anything else you’d like to share with intended parents starting their research and selection process on GoStork?
It’s so difficult to know what to ask… when you don’t know the questions to ask, you know? When I first started my family-building journey, I didn’t know about single embryo transfer, or exactly what PGT-M was, or potential benefits to a freeze-all cycle, or about a hundred other things. My best advice is to speak to someone who has been through it first-hand or someone who can help advise you. Birds of a feather can flock together, which includes Storks! People who have gone through the process of finding a gestational carrier, using donor eggs, donor embryos, etc. can provide insight like no other!
Thank you, Jay, it’s been a pleasure. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with you – and appreciate you sharing your expertise!
At GoStork, we help intended parents identify their “how” – find, compare, and connect with over 10,000 egg donors from multiple agencies, and top US surrogacy agencies, all on one platform!
Interested in reading more from Jay first? Here are a few blogs and articles she’s contributed to GoStork!