Advocacy Day: The Main Event (Wednesday)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The truth is that no matter how many times I write this post I will read it and feel like I left things out, like I missed points, like something is missing. Advocacy Day was filled with so much passion, inspiration, emotion, dedication, and anger. 

You read that right. I said ANGER. Not the kind of anger that makes you scream and yell. Not the kind of anger that makes you punch the wall. But the kind of anger that makes 154 advocates from all over the country travel to Capitol Hill to educate Congress because we are ANGRY about our infertility. Sometimes anger can be healthy. It can make people demand change.

154 Advocates from 27 states, 2300+ letter from all 50 states, 160 meetings on Capitol Hill on May 7th 2014.

The 154 advocates present on May 7th was composed of women and men who went through infertility and professionals who treat infertility. Some REs (Reproductive Endocrinologists) traveled to be at these meetings and advocate as well. This was three times the number of advocates that Resolve had two years ago. This was something to be so very proud of. The organizers of this event did an amazing job and really deserve so much thanks.

The morning started with a breakfast and meeting to get everyone ready for the day. They did some talking with us about the different bills/acts that we were presenting and gave us some leave-behind materials to give to all of the congress-people that we would be seeing.

I was honored to get to hear Barb Collura talk to us that morning. She is the President of Resolve and a very inspirational woman.

We also got to hear from Jen & Whitney, the Co-Chairs of the event. They gave passionate speeches that fired us up for the day and, in all honesty, made me cry. Here are some quotes from them that really gave me goosebumps: 

"Being here isn’t easy. It’s easy to not talk about our infertility. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by our disease and to say “not this year.” It’s easy to let others do the work. In all honesty, this work has been a struggle for me this year. I’ve felt the pull to get on with my “life after infertility.” This hasn’t been easy, even for me.
I am thrilled that there are 154 of us in this room. This is nearly three times as many advocates as we had two years ago at my first AD. But it’s still not enough. What we cannot forget is that if we do not show up, if we do not do what is not easy, no one else will.
We need to recognize that we are privileged to be here today. We get to find our voices today. We get to tell our stories. We get to stand up to the injustices that we see in our healthcare system. How amazing! There are so many who are suffering who cannot be here, who cannot speak out, who cannot demand better medical care, who are alone in this battle. Today we are speaking for them" -Jen

“Today, infertility comes out of the closet. Today, you get to actually do something about your infertility. You will put a face to this disease and educate congress about this healthcare crisis we are all facing. Today we stop being victims of our disease, and start being advocates for our community.
Our work today can’t be an isolated moment in time. It’s going to require some endurance on our part. My step-mother-in-law told me that she didn’t think we’d be having to fight for something like this today, like she was doing back in the 60s/70s. Well, here we are today and it does fall to us to fight for this — let’s make sure it doesn’t fall to the children that we all want so badly.
A silent disease will yield silent results, so it’s going to take ALL of us to speak up! I invite you to find your voice today. You will turn your personal struggle into something more. I’m proud that you are not only here today, but that you guys are also leaders in a grassroots movement of mobilizing your peers to speak up and take action as well. WE ARE BUILDING A MOVEMENT!" -Whitney
We then got to hear from Representative Rick Larsen, the Sponsor who introduced the Women's Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act. He gave a great speech and everyone really felt his passion when he asked us "Should men and women have to choose between serving their country and having a family?"

This photo is of the entire Ohio Constituency. We were ready to go tell our reps and senators all about the Family Act, Women's Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act, & The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act.

I cannot even tell you how neat it was to be walking the halls of the Senate and House of Representatives buildings. I was standing in the very place where laws are made. It was inspiring to say the least.

We had a schedule of appointments that were set up for each of us by the Resolve crew. On my schedule were my Ohio Senators, Rob Portman & Sherrod Brown, and the State Representative or my district that I live in, Pat Tiberi. I also attended a meetings with another Rep from our state. Since I was attending as a professional as well I spoke about "infertility 101" and sort of taught the people we were meeting with about infertility and how many of their constituents it affects, that it is a disease, and how costly it can be.

 As I stated before we have 154 advocates from 27 states. This means that we had 23 states that were not represented by advocates BUT we had all 50 states represented in letters. I, myself, brought over 160 letters. Since I wanted to make the largest impact possible I asked to deliver letters to offices for states that were not represented by advocated. They gave me Utah and New Hampshire to also hand out. So that added many more offices and impromptu meetings to my day. I was glad to do it and it kept me VERY busy but I was there to make change and I didn't need time to sightsee.  This photo is with Representative Kuster, we got to have an impromptu meeting with her while we were delivering letters from her constituents. 

 Yep, I even went to Boehner's office, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE!!!

We got to meet Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio and talk to him about infertility. He was interested and already supports the Veteran Bill!

All in all this experience was one that I will never forget. As a woman who is affected by infertility EVERY SINGLE DAY it is hard to explain what it feels like to get a chance to fight back. This is something that we get the chance to do normally. We suffer mostly in silence, we have very few people who can truly understand what we are going through, we lose friends, we shut down, but today we opened up.... we spoke up.... we fought back. I sat in front of so many people and I told them my story. I was heard. They may not really understand, many of those aids were too young to understand the yearn for a family or the true impact of infertility but they had to look at my face and into my eyes while I sat there and said "I am Lindsey, I was diagnosed with infertility when I was only 24 years old, I have been through IVF FIVE times, and I have spent over $72,000 out of pocket to try to build my family. HELP ME."

I cannot fix infertility for everyone, god knows I cannot seem to fix myself. But what I can do is fight. Fight for me, fight for you, fight for us.

  1. What an honor to be able to do this for all of us sufferers! Thank you!!