2016 tri-state walk of hope

i am so excited to be serving as this year’s chairperson for the tri-state walk of hope.   i hope you will consider joining our team or making a donation.  i wanted to share why i will be walking:

When my husband Ralph and I realized it was unlikely we would be able to build our family on our own, I found myself focusing on all the things infertility was robbing us of: privacy, confidence in our bodies, control, intimacy, money and hope. Plans were put on hold or cancelled as our lives revolved around the calendar and medication schedules from our doctors. Sick days being saved for maternity leave instead were used for testing and procedures. Our savings dwindled. I started pulling back from other relationships as our friends announced their pregnancies and births. I lost faith in my ability to make it through our treatments, both mentally and physically.

And then, I found RESOLVE. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it changed my life and my relationship with my infertility.

In my peer-led support group, I found support and understanding from others who had been there and done that. I found a strength I never knew I had, and that I desperately needed to continue on the journey to build our family.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, I found hope as I saw awareness of infertility and its treatments growing. I found pride as I heard others who had previously remained silent about their struggles speak out and share their stories.

At Advocacy Day, I found my voice as I asked our government to help not just our family, but for the 1 in 8 couples struggling with infertility. I found passionate individuals who had traveled from around the country to speak out about the need for access to treatments and financial relief.

And at last year’s first Tri-State Walk of Hope, I found a community. Over 300 people came out to bring awareness to others about infertility, and to raise over $60,000 to ensure that RESOLVE can continue its important work improving the lives of those living with infertility through advocacy, education, and awareness. I found joy as together we walked that mile, to ensure that no one with infertility has to walk alone.

not so happy memories

there are sections of our time going through treatments that are a bit of a blur:  the early morning dates with the dildo cam and bloodwork, conversations with the insurance company and pharmacy, nights curled up on the couch crying into my Ben and Jerry’s.

and then there are moments that stand out more clearly.  some happier moments.  some really, really hurtful ones.  and some embarrassing ones. every now and then, some little trigger makes on of those memories come rushing in, taking me back to that place i was in all those years ago, for better or worse.

this morning, one of those triggers turned up working at the local baby superstore when i stopped in to buy a gift for a friend’s baby shower (we’ll chat another time about how baby gift shopping still gives me that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach).  i walked up to the registry desk, and there was one of the sweetest girls i have ever taught behind the counter.  and then it all came flooding back to me.

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hello old friend

it’s been almost two years since i was last here.  well, not really.  i’ve been here quite a bit, even though you wouldn’t know it from the look of things.

opening that “new post” link, and staring at the screen.  typing.  deleting.  typing.  retyping.  getting frustrated and closing the window without ever hitting publish.

and then seriously missing this outlet, this connection, that was once so important to me.  wishing i had someplace to get it out, to think things through.

so i’m back.  i’m not making any promises, either to myself or anyone else who may still be out there.  but for today, and hopefully tomorrow, i’m here.  for whatever that’s worth.

 

it’s getting to be that time of year again…

so it’s kinda, sorta, technically spring (even though the weather hasn’t caught on yet), and you know what that means – resolve’s infertility advocacy day is coming up!  i’ve already made sure to sign up to attend – have you? 🙂

this year, we are advocating again for The Family Act, a tax credit (based on the adoption tax credit) to help with the out of pocket expenses associated with IVF, as well as with treatments to preserve fertility in the face of cancer and other diseases.  we are also still seeking support for the The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act, legislation that would help soldiers who have sustained injuries in combat necessitating IVF to build their families.  and this year, we are also advocating for The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act.  although we were fortunate enough that the adoption tax credit was made permanent in the “fiscal cliff” law in 2012, the refundable portion of the credit was not included.

i know not everyone can manage to travel to DC, but even if you can’t make it in person, you can still share you concerns about obstacles facing couples trying to build their families, and your support for these important pieces of legislation.  when i go to DC again in may to meet with staffers from Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, and Representative Runyan’s offices, i am also hoping to drop off stacks of letters other senate and house offices.  if you are interested in sending letters of support down with me, you can email me at with.just.a.little.help at gmail.com for more information.  i can provide you with a sample letter that you can edit/add to, information on your representatives, and we can make plans to get your letters to me!  i promise, it will be easy and painless 🙂

well hello stranger…

man, oh man, have i missed you.

——

i’m not a religious person or anything, but maybe they would have been able to have a kid of their own if they weren’t so evil.

so that happened.  not exactly a comment i expected to hear at work last week.  honestly, i don’t think i’ve ever heard someone say that out loud before.  read it online, heard stories of some asshole saying it aloud, but never in real life.

and i totally wasn’t expecting my reaction to the comment: i felt like someone had punched me in the gut.  i looked down, fascinated by the spreadsheet in front of me.  i could feel my eye welling up, my cheeks burning.  i found myself suddenly hyperaware of everyone around me – did they hear her say that?  did it register to anyone but me?  could they tell how upset i was becoming?  my mind started racing with comebacks

ok, maybe that initial, involuntary reaction wasn’t so unexpected.  but the thought-out, completely voluntary one that came next…

i said nothing.  just kept doing what needed doing in the meeting, counting down the minutes until the period ended and i could teach my class.  but i didn’t say a thing.

not. a. thing.

and i am so, so pissed at myself.  embarrassed.  ashamed.  i can shout from the rooftops about our struggles.  spill my guts to anyone i meet.  tell my representatives about IF and ask for their support.

but i sat, silent, while some stupid twit at work opened her big fat mouth.

the veterans bill cleared the senate committee!

great news!  the women veterans and other health care improvement act, one of the bills we were speaking about for at resolve’s advocacy day, has cleared committee and will be going for a vote on the full senate floor!  this bill would help servicemembers made infertile during combat build their families.  currently, military families do not have coverage for IVF through tricare.

could you take a few minutes to contact your senators and ask for their support for the bill?  pretty please?  i’ve included the basic parts of the letters i sent this morning below, feel free to steal!

I was very excited to hear yesterday  that The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act (S 131) was cleared through the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and will be voted on by the full Senate.  The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act is a tremendously important piece of legislation to help our wounded veterans build their families.
From 2003 to 2012, Department of Defense data shows that almost 2,000 servicemembers suffered urinary tract and reproductive trauma.  In addition, spinal cord injuries can often require highly specialized medical treatments like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to conceive.  These injuries have been increasing in recent years as both the use of improvised explosive devices and foot patrols have increased in combat zones.
Currently, the VA excludes coverage for IIVF for infertile military families through TriCare, even for those couples where the servicemember is rendered infertile because of injuries sustained during combat.  Couples who require IVF to build their families due to their combat injuries must go outside the TriCare system and pay tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets for a chance to have a child.
The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act would remedy this injustice and provide the opportunity for servicemembers and their spouses to utilize assisted reproductive technologies to build their families.  In addition, it would provide families with limited financial assistance and others resources if they should chose to build their families through adoption after their combat injuries.
I hope that I can rely on your support to help our servicemembers and their families recover after the sacrifices they have made for our country.   Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me or feel free to contact Barbara Collura, President/CEO of RESOLVE, at bcollura@resolve.org.  You may also visit the RESOLVE website at www.resolve.org/infertilityissues.  Thank you again for your consideration of this bill.