When I was a kid I was certain that I was going to be a doctor. My Dad always told us he wanted to go to medical school and he was always very meticulous. He cleaned our knee scabs, cuts and everything else that required a wound dressing change with perfection. His frustration became a momentary dream for me, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I was quick to say that I wanted to be a doctor.
This week I almost felt like one when I attended the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Scientific Congress & Expo in Salt Lake City, I spent three fantastic days learning about infertility, checking the latest and greatest technology on embryo transfers and attended some insightful panels on infertility advocacy and legislation changes, research and the emotional rollercoaster that patients experience while going through fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I am not pursuing a new career in medicine, I was there because infertility is part of my story.
I am married to the man that I met when I was 10 years old. We were best friends before becoming life partners. We always talked about having kids, two maybe three! So we started working on that a few years after getting married. A year passed, then another year, then another year. I was having trouble figuring out when I was ovulating so I went to see my physician, she told me it was a good idea to check in with an specialist so that is what I did.
I went to a couple of different Reproductive Endocrinologists for a consultation and they all told me the same thing, I had low ovarian reserves. Their recommendation was to start IVF immediately. I was in denial for a while but time (and eggs) was running out. Picking a doctor was no easy task. I ultimately went with the one that gave me hope and comfort: Dr. Vicken Sahakian. On my second consultation I left the clinic with a print out calendar with my protocol, a lot of paperwork with instructions, and tons of questions in my head. I went online and looked for videos to watch, specifically how-to videos and egg retrieval procedures. How to inject Follistim, Lupron, Menopur, Gonal-f! What is the egg retrieval like? How long does it take? I was stressed, overwhelmed and on a mission to find a mobile app to help me track all of my medication and appointments on a timely manner. To my surprise, I couldn't find anything that was close to what I needed so that’s when the idea of creating something came to mind.
I could use my expertise and creativity to give women a useful tool and help make their journey less stressful. Experiencing the struggle first hand was the inspiration to create Naula. While going through the treatments I also co-founded The Glue, a full-service marketing agency specializing in creating meaningful and beautiful experiences. With Neille’s full support (my business partner), encouragement, wisdom and endless patience, we designed, developed and launched Naula, the best fertility treatment mobile app in the market.
Naula was created to help women just like me, going through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments, manage medications and appointments. Keeping everything in one place was key. It includes the most common treatments IVF, IUI, Egg Freezing, Egg Donation and Surrogacy. We compiled the best instructional videos and added step-by-step instructions with custom illustrations one tap away from your fingerprints. Users get reminders and alerts on their phone no matter where they are.
The ability to instantly add medications and appointments to an easy-to-use-calendar, provide a birds-eye view of the entire protocol and privately share with loved ones was very important.
Having gone through IVF three times, we added a feature that allows users to duplicate a treatment which saves a lot of time. Most importantly, security and privacy was top priority, all of the the data transfer and personal information is encrypted and protected.
Infertility is a heavy topic. Emotional support and empathy is not as available as anyone might expect. And I think for most women and men not being in control is what makes this so hard. It took me about three years to be able to openly speak and write about this, I never imagined that I would be going to a reproductive conference, let alone make a product like Naula. It gave me a new perspective about getting pregnant, making a baby, having a family, adopting and also none of the above. My IVF treatments ended but my journey is not over yet. Creating Naula gave me a new beginning and I will get another chance to write how my story ends.