By: Arushi, Maven Member
One in four. That's the statistic I stumbled upon during my residency as a pulmonary critical care physician at an academic medical center in Chicago. While infertility affects about 1 in 8 women in the general population, the rate among physicians is 1 in 4.
In the world of medicine, our training is relentless. It consumes our twenties and often stretches into our thirties. Conversations about family planning and fertility are rarely on the agenda. But even as a young doctor focusing on my career, I realized I didn’t want to postpone this chapter of my life any longer. I knew that if my husband, Ankur, and I waited until I completed my training, I'd be beginning my family building journey in my mid-thirties. Trying to conceive at the height of my career was daunting to say the least. But I’m so glad we took the plunge—because the process was a lot longer and more challenging than I’d expected.
Fertility is a journey fraught with emotional, physical, and sometimes financial challenges, and my experience navigating it as a physician deepened my appreciation for the complexities of this issue. As a physician, I was surprised by the convoluted nature of the healthcare system—even when I had the advantage of understanding it from the inside. My providers were and are fantastic, but my doctors’ busy schedules left me and my husband with unanswered questions. It felt at times like my doctors were dictating my care without fully communicating with me. I was fragile and vulnerable undergoing IVF, and I longed for that personalized, one-on-one care.
During this time, my husband dug into his benefits offering and introduced me to Maven, a platform that ended up being invaluable throughout our fertility journey. Maven, which my husband has access to via his employer, made the journey that much easier, providing access to reproductive endocrinologists (REIs) who were available within hours. Hours! We met with Dr. Salem, and our conversation provided my husband and me with the answers and reassurance we desperately needed.
“It was really hard getting a hold of doctors…Maven was great because we looked up, ‘Can someone just answer our questions?’ and there were so many reproductive endocrinologists right at our disposal. We were like, ‘Oh, we can get an appointment and talk to someone in six hours.’”
As a medical professional myself, his communication really impressed me; he made such an impact in such a brief conversation. Through the Maven app, I saw Dr. Salem many times during the IVF process. I appreciated that I wasn’t meeting a new doctor every time, and Dr. Salem had availability almost every time we wanted to meet with him. This continuity of care helped put me at ease.
My experience with Maven didn’t just affect me personally, but impacted how I care for my own patients. The quick and responsive support I received during my IVF journey made me acutely aware of the importance of timely communication in healthcare. Waiting even a few hours for a response can be agonizing for patients, and I am now more attuned to their needs and concerns.
“I feel like the way I take care of my own patients has changed, because I'm so much more receptive to how they may be feeling having gone through [the process] myself.”
Now, I’m mom to Avyaan, a gorgeous seven-month-old baby boy. He’ll be crawling any day now. But our reproductive healthcare journey didn't end with delivery. The postpartum period and early days of parenthood presented another gap in care. My OB-GYN and pediatrician had such packed schedules. Maven once again provided us with support, offering a wealth of resources and information on topics like breastfeeding, parenting, and more.
Recently, we started seeing a Maven sleep coach. Avi was waking up every day at 4 am and not going back to sleep. He was fighting his naps. I was losing it: I felt like I was spending half the day trying to get him to stop crying and sleep. Essentially, we needed to go through sleep training again. The Maven sleep coach helped us create a sleep schedule. But, even more invaluably, we would send notes through the Maven app between appointments. It felt like she was alongside us the whole time, and I am so grateful she was on that journey with us. Being able to circle back with the same provider and get guidance in between appointments is one of the true benefits of Maven.
“Maven was helpful for me as someone who has a lot of resources. I can't even imagine how helpful it may be for someone who doesn't know the healthcare system as well.”
I'm passionate about sharing my story and advocating for open conversations about fertility and family planning, particularly in the medical field, as well as more resources for navigating the healthcare system and IVF process. My path to parenthood highlights the profound impact that Maven can have on individuals who need support navigating the complexities of their healthcare journey. The accessibility, the timeliness, and the actual quality of care is unmatched in the current healthcare system.
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