When Gail Sexton Anderson began working in third-party fertility nearly 25 years ago, she dreamed of opening a one-stop-shop that would give prospective parents all the resources to face the challenges ahead. Whether it’s mental, emotional or educational support, Gail is determined to provide it to her clients. On this episode of Defining Moments, Gail shares about her personal journey through motherhood and how it led her to open an empathy-driven center where women, men, and intended parents can seek the help and agency they need to start a family.
When Gail Anderson began working in third-party fertility nearly 25 years ago, she dreamed of opening a one-stop-shop that would give prospective parents all the resources to face the challenges ahead. Whether it’s mental, emotional or educational support, Gail is determined to provide it to her clients.
Gail’s motivation to join the field of third-party fertility was ignited by a difficult personal experience: a heartbreaking miscarriage. After feeling flushed and in pain from severe cramping, Gail sought medical attention at a nearby emergency room, where she was treated with impatience and little empathy.
“I left there feeling very much embarrassed — like ‘Oh, sorry for bothering you,’” Gail shares. “It was just this really negative experience. And it took a few days for me to kind of go like, ‘Wait a minute. I'm not pregnant anymore.’”
Later on, Gail received the opportunity to work with an egg donor and surrogacy program. It was then she realized she had found her calling.
“I just loved helping people when they're going through this very difficult time and helping them to kind of make sure they feel heard and understood and how challenging it was. And so that sort of began my life's work,” Gail says.
Gail’s own harrowing experience was the driving force behind her business endeavors. She became determined to create a space where those seeking help in starting a family can feel supported, heard and seen — a great contrast to the treatment she received after her miscarriage.
After nearly four years of planning and building from the ground up, TULIP opened in 2020. The membership-based platform reflects Gail’s determination to help anyone and everyone on the journey to parenthood.
👱♀️ Name: Gail Sexton Anderson
⚙️ What she does: Gail is the co-founder and chair of TULIP, a platform where intended parents can find education and support as they build their families in a not-so-old-fashioned way.
🎨 Company: TULIP
💎 Words of wisdom: “We always say that our clients are — as I mentioned, we call them ‘intended parents’ — our true North. If we don't listen to them and learn how we can help them, then we can't.”
🔍 Where to find Gail: LinkedIn
🔍 Where to find TULIP: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
💡 Sparked by personal experience: Gail was so affected by the poor medical treatment she received after a miscarriage that she wanted to create a place where she could help people in the ways she was not.
💡 Everyone has a story: Just as Gail’s own experiences led to her life’s work, she believes listening to people’s stories is the key to effectively helping them.
💡 Easing parents through an overwhelming experience: For many, choosing an egg donor or a surrogate requires a huge mental leap, thinking about the birth of their child in a new light. TULIP is focused on being there for the intended parents every step of the way.
💡 Set realistic expectations: Despite all the research clients might come prepared with, TULIP makes sure intended parents have all the information they need for a realistic understanding of the situation and to make the best decisions for themselves and their family.
💡 Tapping into a wider network: Having worked in third-party fertility for nearly 25 years, Gail knows the value of making connections with agencies to bring more options to her clients.
💡 True North: At TULIP, the intended parents remain the focal point. Making sure they are heard and cared for in every realm is the company’s mission.
“Looking back, I now wish there was someone there to kind of say, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ I only had one friend who was aware that I'd been pregnant and then had a miscarriage who actually called me to say, ‘How are you doing?’ … I think it helped me to be able to be so much more empathetic to anyone going through this sort of thing where it’s their greatest heart's desires to have a child and they need someone to be there and listen to them.”
“I think truthfully the biggest influence has been the hopeful parents and trying to hear what it is that they really need. We always say that our clients are — as I mentioned, we call them ‘intended parents’ — our true North. If we don't listen to them and learn how we can help them, then we can't.”
“We offer to a different group of intended parents at TULIP, which is more of the self-help … to be able to help them kind of go through this and feel supported. Of course, we have coaches at TULIP, but it’s something where it's more of a do-it-yourself and helps any intended parent to feel much more like ‘Here are my possibilities, and now I can kind of sort through that without anyone looking over my shoulder and saying, decide, decide, decide.’”
“Don't fall in love with a surrogate before your doctor has reviewed the medical records because you may start counting on this woman and feel like she's your friend. And then if your doctor says, ‘Yeah, she's not really a good choice,’ then you're back to square one emotionally to kind of get to a point where you can then say, ‘OK, I have to let go of, you know, one person and consider someone else.’ And that can be difficult at times.”