2017 Advocacy Day

Now that I finally wrote about my bike trip to D.C., it’s time to record my experience in D.C.

I had originally planned to arrive the morning of Day 1 of RESOLVE’s Advocacy Day. However, I knew that given my experience with delays and other unforeseen events that I might be late for my appointments I had on Capitol Hill that day, so I decided to push through and finish the night before.

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While I had been able to be around a few friends and family along the way, the majority of the time I was alone. I relied on my ability to push through the pain, the mental anguish, and come out on the other side intact and on a physical adrenaline high but mentally and emotionally drained. So when I finally met with my group outside of Senator Tammy Duckworth’s office I was emotionally overloaded.

Side note: That morning as I was waiting for the Metro, I got a text that my sister-in-law (Danny’s brother and his wife) had just given birth, making this the second nephew in our family to be born while I was on my journey (the other was born the night before Mother’s Day from my brother and his wife). Ironic timing, eh?

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After a few greetings, we were summoned into Senator Duckworth’s conference room and met with her staffer before the congresswoman was going to join us. As people asked how my trip was, I didn’t know how to express myself. I kept mentioning that the whole experience was overwhelming. I knew I was excited, tired, curious, nervous, happy, sad and a few other emotions that I wasn’t prepared to feel after dedicating so much time to get to D.C.  I felt as if I was sitting on pins and needles, knowing that I was going to need to speak up about my experiences with infertility and my bike ride.

My moment came to speak and I felt like I threw up words. Grasping for something to stick about my miscarriage and how that prompted me to ride my bike to Washington D.C. Tears streamed down my face, I felt embarrassed that I had two weeks to think of something to say and nothing came to fruition except the raw emotion. I expected to have my shit together but I broke down instead.

Senator Duckworth had an empathetic response and didn’t seem phased by my tears. She is a woman that I have looked forward to voting for, meeting with and admired. She is one kick-ass woman and I am proud to have her represent Illinois in the Senate.

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After our meeting, I attended the ASRM Advocacy Academy. The sessions were so packed full of information and it allowed my brain to start readjusting to life beyond maps, flat tires, and weather conditions. I picked up all the information packets they had so I could study them more in-depth later, as I am a firm supporter in the line of thinking that “Knowledge is Power.”

Later that evening, RESOLVE hosted a Welcome Reception for all the advocates attending across the nation to meet together and have a fun night. Susann Edwards rallied the group together when she emphatically declared, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

By the end of the night I felt good about what I was doing, but urgently felt I needed to get to the store. You see I packed for D.C. two weeks ahead of time. The forecast was calling for gray skies and rain. I packed accordingly and sent my belongings to a friend in the area. But that didn’t help me much when I got there and the skies were blue and the temperature was above 90° F.

I found what I could and ordered some food and before I knew it, I was crawling into bed around 1 a.m. So much for a being well-rested… But by the time I woke up, I was feeling back to normal. Normal in a sense that my head felt as if it was screwed on right and my emotions weren’t dictating my words and actions. I felt my body ache for the first time in days, the 600+ miles finally hitting me at full speed.

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I arrived on the Hill ready for action and my demeanor was a complete 180° from the previous day. While I was still overwhelmed, I felt grounded, organized, collected, ready to talk and fight for the rights of many individuals/couples who don’t have the ability to expand their families.

As a state delegation, we discussed the day and organized ourselves on who we were going to visit and what we were going to say… I wished for the opportunity to have had that prep going into Congresswoman Duckworth’s office the day before. We also had letters to deliver from constituents within the districts of Illinois to hand-deliver to their representative.

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I enjoyed being able to deliver a letter to Senator Cheri Bustos, the representative of the district that I grew up in. Her office had a welcoming staff, a friendly dog greeter named Cody, and I was able to have an impromptu meeting with one of her staffers!

Meeting with the staffers of representatives from various locations from around my home state was very informative. I was able to get a better glimpse of how the wheels churn on Capitol Hill and I appreciate all the hard work that every staffer puts into their job to serve the people they represent.

 

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View from Representative Luis Gutierrez’s office conference room.

 

Upon returning home, I emailed the staffers I met with to thank them for their time and to remind them of the bills we talked about. I heard from Representative Luis Gutierrez’s office that he would be co-sponsoring HR 1681 (Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2017)!

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Ultimately, I had a great time and felt that I was making a difference and participating in the democratic privilege of the United States of America. I would love to return in the future to keep my seat at the table.

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