Meet Dori Gelfman: Our Community Manager

In September 2020, Dori Gelfman joined Fruitful as our Community Manager. With 15 years of experience working as a registered nurse, the last 8 in fertility, Dori loves helping people through family building challenges. Here’s what makes Dori passionate about the fertility community and why she says patients need both access to great healthcare and emotional support.

Q: Tell us about yourself, Dori! Where are you from/where do you currently live? What does your family look like? What do you like to do in your free time?
DORI: I was born and raised in Minnesota. My family is large and mostly local. I am not a fan of winter or being cold and I love a long warm bath. I went to the University of AZ for undergrad, where I graduated with a degree in Bioethics and Religious Studies and ridiculously, decided to come back to Minnesota to start a life. I met my husband after college and made the decision to go back to school for nursing. I have worked with children and families my whole life, I am a listener, an empath and a caregiver by nature. My husband, Danny and I have 2 children; Marty is almost 12 years old and Ella is 9 years old. We like bike rides, hiking in the woods, playing long games of Scrabble, laughing a lot, cooking, and traveling. Lately, I have really enjoyed a good book on Audible or an engaging podcast and taking a long walk by myself. 

 

Q: Did you always want to be a nurse? Why did you decide to work in healthcare?
DORI: I didn’t really know about nursing, but almost my entire family was either a doctor or living with a chronic disease. So I thought I would be a doctor. I always had jobs caring for other people: I was a babysitter, camp counselor and nanny, and always had a desire to take care of people. In my childhood, I spent a lot of time in hospitals. I was comfortable and familiar around sick and healing people and I was fascinated by science and medicine, so I thought I was going to be a doctor. I went to college and decided to major in Bioethics. I loved the marriage of science and ethics, and was determined that being a doctor was not the only option. I moved to Philadelphia after graduation and interned at the Center for Bioethics at University of Pennsylvania. I spent all summer determining if I wanted to go to med school or do something different. I really just wanted to help people and also learn new things every day. I hate being bored and I needed a career that would keep my mind questioning and my body moving. I discovered that nursing allowed me to take care of the whole person, learn new things everyday, work with others, listen and help, it checked all my boxes! I went back to school and received my nursing degree, along with more undergraduate credits than anyone would ever need! 

 

Q: Why do you enjoy working in the fertility community?
DORI: Fertility is a tricky beast. I like working through complex issues both professionally and personally. There is so much complexity to a patient navigating through the fertility world. In working with this fertility community, both the emotional and social aspects of care need to be met. Fertility patients are educated; they are knowledgeable and they are highly motivated. Working in the fertility space you need to be flexible, adaptive, educated and real. There really is so much more to the care being provided than purely medical. Fertility treatments are traumatizing, embarrassing, heartbreaking and you need to have a realistic cheerleader, someone on your side not to sugar coat things but to be real and honest. People need an empathetic ear, a real life perspective, and a guide to unpack all their baggage. There are so many ups and downs during this journey and I like to help keep perspective and help keep people motivated to do what is right for them in the moment. Fertility challenges every part of your life and I hope that my role serves to lessen the burden in a small way in any aspect that seems helpful in that moment. 

 

Q: What are some of the most frustrating myths you hear?
DORI: What is most frustrating is when people blame themselves, like when they think there is something that they should be or shouldn’t be doing that would change their diagnosis or outcome. There is so much information available and not all of it is accurate. The internet can be such a valuable tool but it also can be a dumpster fire of garbage and misinformation. Everyone wants a crystal ball or a magic pill; if it were easy you wouldn’t be working so hard. Fertility is hard enough and to place blame and things like what you eat or what you do or where you go, or what you wear, is ridiculous! It’s NOT your fault!

The other thing is that one-size-fits-all treatments are not a thing.  Just because your sister or friend or co-worker’s daughter’s cousin has the same diagnoses as you, doesn’t mean you should be having the same treatments as them. There is so much involved in making and keeping a pregnancy and so many unique differences between couples and individuals. You can’t Google PCOS and think that you found THE answer. Trust your care team for medical advice. Trust your friends for emotional support…and treats.

 

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice for someone currently going through infertility?
DORI: I often tell people to focus on the small wins. There are so many steps to move through on the way to the main event. You learn so quickly that bringing home a baby is not the only win to feel grateful for:

  • Getting a period to start a cycle-win!
  • Responding to the meds-win!
  • Ovulating at the right time-win!

Every step needs to be celebrated- this isn’t easy and it isn’t fast, so celebrate the small stuff.

Also, I always try to give and keep perspective. I know you wanted a baby yesterday and that waiting to start treatment until next month seems like an eternity, but in reality if you have a baby born in June or July, you are still going to have a baby. I think that it is impossible at the moment to see how to get through the weeds. They are thick. They are treacherous.But there will be a path. It may not be the first path you walk, but there is a path that will get you to where you need to be.

 

Q:What made you want to work for Fruitful? What are you most excited about when it comes to working for Fruitful?

DORI: Fertility treatments and going through the infertility journey is not purely medical. It is a holistic process that touches every aspect of your life: financial, hormonal, emotional, physical, social. As a nurse in a clinic, it was challenging to not have the time or the bandwidth to help people, like really help people holistically. Fruitful fills a huge need; your journey doesn’t end when you have a baby. That trauma remains and to be able to help people on both sides of this journey is so unique and valuable. Fruitful is real, it is honest, it is funny, it’s supportive. It’s why I wanted to be a nurse, to help people and to give them the tools to heal and help themselves. I love the philosophy and I love the model. Fertility patients need to trust their medical team for the medicine but I think it is so empowering to trust each other for the additional support. When you ask a friend for support they have a vested interest in your well being which is great, but also, not always honest and not always helpful. A stranger who has been through the same thing wants to help but really has nothing to gain by your loss or challenge. They just want to give support to others the way that they would have liked the same type of support when they were going through. I am really looking forward to being able to support people on this journey in a genuine human way while also embracing the science and using my expertise to help further what is already happening. 


Q: Which people (famous or not) have influenced you most in your life?
DORI: I am honestly not easily influenced by people. I never have been. I am not a follower. I tend to do what I think is right rather than others’ opinions but goodness in people motivates me and kindness in people definitely influences me. I would say the most influential person in my life is my husband, Danny. He has the most vested in my successes and in my failures. He believes in me and challenges me. He cares deeply for me but also isn’t afraid to rock the boat or tell me what I don’t want to hear. He has a way of pushing the expectations respectfully and firmly, questioning the norm in an attempt to make improvements. I feel blessed to be loved by a man who isn’t willing to settle and who forces me to keep evolving.  We have been through a lot together over the past 17 years and we seem to always end up stronger together. So I guess Danny…and Oprah.


Q: Favorite non-chocolate candy?
DORI: Non-chocolate?! Why would you ever!?  Anything lemon and sour: Lemonheads and Sour Patch Kids are the tops!

 

Q: Favorite quote and why?
DORI: “What we know matters, but who we are matters a little more.” Brene Brown. Be good, do good, that’s it! This world is so challenging right now, it takes all of us to make things better one little step at a time.

Dori Gelfman loves helping people, which is why she has worked as a registered nurse for over 15 years. Dori has a passion for helping people build their families and specialized in infertility for over a decade. A native Minnesotan, Dori loves spending time with her family, going on bike rides, taking hikes, cooking, traveling, playing long games of Scrabble and laughing.

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