Advocating for Infertility on Capitol Hill

Last year, as I walked around wide-eyed and mouth agape at the cathedral ceilings of the Senate buildings, I had this weirdly patriotic sense of pride come over me. I’m not one to wave around tiny American flags, hand-over-fisting apple pie into my face. I am grateful to be an American citizen.

But when I walked into my elected officials’ offices, I couldn’t be more proud to be an American.

It even feels so cheesy to say that, but it’s true: there really is nothing more American than speaking with your elected officials on issues that matter to you. It’s just that simple.

Advocacy Day 2011

No seriously, Senator: please help me build my family.

I’m here in DC today for Advocacy Day tomorrow. Even cooler?

I’m here with my mom.

Me and My Mom

This fancy lady to my right, right here.

She decided on a whim to come down with me, because she knows how important this issue is to me. I’m honored and touched.

The thing is, coming to Advocacy Day this year, I know there are a lot of people who’d love to join me. So I’m carrying in my heart all the moxie, passion and spit-fire-go-getum-ness of everyone who wishes they could stand with me on Capitol Hill today.

I know you want to be here. I know how much this day means to you, too.

So I want all of you to know who can’t be here – I’m doin’ this for you, too.

. . .

My mom’s napping while I write, while I prep, while I check my email and lay out my clothes for tomorrow (note to self: must iron pants tonight). She’s got her talking points info sheet from RESOLVE sitting on the table next to her. The car ride down from NJ, we listened to the training call that RESOLVE led earlier this week. I made a cheat sheet of her state officials with little notes about their websites and Facebook pages.

She’s so excited to be here in DC with me, to take part in such a fundamental part of being an American.

“Introduce yourself on their Facebook pages,” I told my mom. “Leave a comment, let them know you’re excited to meet them tomorrow.”

I turned around and did the very same thing for my officials. Every little bit of buttering up helps.

It might be the massive amounts of caffeine I’ve had today but I’m so excited to be here in DC again, advocating for an issue and a community that means to much to me. It’s do or die time for The Family Act. This IVF tax credit could help so many Americans and we’re so close I can just taste it. I know that once the caffeine fades today, that fire and energy will carry me through tomorrow.

I’m going to need it.

Amazingly enough, none of my reps are on board (yet!) with The Family Act yet. There are a handful of other Massachusetts Congressfolk who’ve co-sponsored, but not my guy… yet. That’s what I’ve got to keep repeating to myself for tomorrow:

Close the deal, Keiko. Close the deal.

And why wouldn’t we all close the deal tomorrow? The Family Act is a great bill. It’s got bipartisan support. There’s a House and Senate version. It’s family-friendly and cost-effective with cost-cutting measures to taxpayers built right into the language. It’s golden.

But the economy isn’t solid yet. It’s an election year. And a lot of people still think that infertility treatments like IVF are elective, as opposed to being the efficient and often successful form of treatment that it is. We know all this.

Now we have to make that case to our officials tomorrow.

. . .

Truth: when I start to really think about Advocacy Day and what we’re about to do tomorrow, I get a little weepy. I do. I can’t help it. Granted, I’ve been a little hormonal lately. But I just get so overwhelmed with how incredibly important this day is. I get emotionally overwhelmed at how humbling it is to walk around the Senate and House buildings, meeting staffers and sometimes even the officials themselves (like when Senator Scott Brown surprised the crap out of the Massachusetts delegation last year).

It’s immensely humbling and yet at the same time: it’s our right, as citizens. This is the very thing our taxpayer dollars go toward, why they’ve been elected. It’s their job to listen to us. And yet simply engaging in our most basic of American rights still gets me, every time.

It gets me thinking about all those inalienable rights we share: voting. Freedom of speech and religion. Safety.

Having a family.

Some might argue that having a family is a privilege. I disagree. I don’t think having a family should only be reserved just for the fertile. Just for the people who can afford to.

Nope.

Having a family isn’t just a right, in my eyes – it’s an honor.

. . .

My mom’s still napping. Dreaming of her hunky Representative, I bet. I’ve got some prep work yet to do. Honing down my infertility elevator pitch. Checking over my notes. Reading up about The Family Act some more.

Really letting it sink in just how important tomorrow is… and letting that realization get me pumped up, fired up, and rarin’ to go for tomorrow.

I’m ready. Let’s do this.

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Comments

  1. says

    Reading this post gave me goosebumps. It’s so awesome that your mom decided to come with you and advocate for the cause. I love how you’re giving her tips, too. : )

    Most of all, thank you. Thank you for heading to D.C. and advocating for us infertiles. Thank you for putting yourself out there on the internet, and letting others know that they aren’t alone in their struggle. Thank you for publicizing our issue, and fighting for our right to build a family. Thank you for being our voice.

  2. says

    Good luck tomorrow, Keiko! You are brilliant with words and I’m sure you’re going to hit a homerun! Thanks for being the voice for so many of us who aren’t in DC right now!

  3. Mary Spiegel says

    It was so nice to meet you yesterday at Advocacy Day.
    Keep up the great work you do and I hope to meet up with you and your mom again someday.
    It was so wonderful to see another ‘mom’ there, as I was there with my dauhter as well!
    It was so exciting and empowering to be with all the advocats yesterday……I am still PUMPED!

  4. Tracey says

    Hi Keiko, I’m Tracey (ICLW 92) and I’ve gotta say you are amazing. Only 29 (forget the 30 days) and what an advocate you are for all infertile women. Your What If video…Redbook…Washington! Wish we had someone like you around when I was TTC. No, I wish I was strong and selfless enough to BE like you back then. I will definitely be following you from now on. Since your infertility voice is so influential, I am hoping you will help spread the word of an opportunity for women who don’t have coverage, to win a free micro-ivf cycle from Long Island IVF.

    I blog for my IVF docs at Long Island IVF so I can share my stories. I’m hoping ICLW and NIAW can help me find new blogs and spread the word about LIIVF’s free Micro-IVF cycle contest kicking off this week. Details for those interested are on the blog or Long Island IVF’s FB page.

    Thank you so much for what you do. You will make a wonderful mom someday, Keiko.