My Amendment to H.R. 1628

Thanks to the behind-closed-doors method the Senate is using to try to pass TrumpCare, you now have the opportunity to request that your personal health care premiums not increase by any passing of the bill.  You submit your amendment and ultimately your Senator can decide whether or not to bring it up for inclusion in the bill.  It is then introduced, read, debated, and voted on.  You can learn about the whole process at http://www.ouramendments.org and submit your personalized amendment there.

Some of the essential agreements of the amendment are:

  • [your name] shall not experience a rise in health insurance premiums or a reduction in premium tax credit or assistance with paying cost-sharing.
  • [your name] shall not experience any annual or lifetime limits on coverage; or higher costs due to a pre-existing condition as defined in Section 2705 of the Public Health Services Act.
  • [your name] shall not experience the loss of coverage of any Essential Health Benefits as defined in Section 1302 of the Affordable Care Act or have to pay more in premiums or cost-sharing for coverage including all Essential Health Benefits.

Pre-existing conditions include things like asthma, cancer, and infertility.

Essential Health Benefits include pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care, as well as prescription drugs, lab services, preventive and wellness checks, pediatric services, hospitalization, and emergency care.

I ask you to protect yourself from losing coverage and seeing your premiums increase due to the tax breaks the TrumpCare bill will give to big businesses, like pharmaceutical companies.  Submit your own amendment.  And if you’re up for it, submit your personal story for your Senator to enter into the congressional record, as I did.  For inspiration, here’s what I submitted:

I am a mother of two with a preexisting condition that affected my fertility, a condition which wasn’t discovered until after my doctors declared I was infertile and put me through a battery of tests. I have a Mullerian anomaly – a unicornuate uterus – which means I was born with only one half of my uterus. As a result, many infertility treatments were not feasible due to my congenital abnormality, and I had a high rate of miscarriage as well. When I finally had a viable pregnancy, the fetus suffered from intrauterine growth restriction and was breech. Due to this high risk pregnancy, I had twice-weekly ultrasounds to ensure my baby was growing and healthy. I also had the additional burden of a C-section due to the breech position. I cannot imagine going through this ordeal without the provisions afforded women by Obamacare. I write today on behalf of women everywhere who might have an undiagnosed preexisting condition like mine to respectfully urge the Senate to keep protections for preexisting conditions, to keep funding for essential programs for low-income women like Planned Parenthood, and to keep healthcare affordable by not giving tax cuts to the wealthiest members and businesses.

If you’re so inclined, go ahead and comment with your amendment as well.

I realize it’s not exactly popular for me to have taken a political slant with my blog.  Most of you are probably just curious about what it was like for me to go through everything, and maybe it helps you feel less alone and gives you hope for building your family in whatever capacity that means for you, which brings me such great joy.  Although my infertility struggles are over, I see my role now to be a role model for others, to share everything I learned from the process, and to ensure women are empowered with the information they need to make the best decisions they can for themselves and their (future) families.  That means letting you know when major legislation affecting how infertility, prenatal, and pediatric care might be decreased (or increased!) and giving you the tools to help do something about it.  You may not agree with me, but it does not change the fact that I will continue to advocate for policies that will benefit you through the lens of infertility.  Even if I no longer have a personal need to benefit from those policies.  Maybe that’s just the mom in me.

*I’m not a professional protester, and I have not been paid or hired to write this post.

If you’re reading this, you probably have a pre-existing condition

And, if the TrumpCare repeal of ObamaCare is approved tomorrow in Congress, your state may be able to allow insurance companies to charge you more or even deny you coverage for it.

Many people in the US population suffer from health concerns that can be classified as pre-existing conditions: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, and yes, even pregnancy and infertility.  Unlike our Mullerian anomalies, which are congenital (meaning we were born with them), some of these pre-existing conditions may have come about from environmental conditions – such as secondhand smoke or contaminated water – or from personal choices one has made – such as smoking or those supersized fries.  Sometimes cancer or heart disease happens to the “healthiest” people.

I’m not going to let someone turn me into a nameless number and decide I don’t deserve coverage because my parents smoked in the car.

I’m not going to stand by while children with neuroblastoma or leukemia awaiting expensive treatments like chemotherapy are told they can’t get life-saving treatment because they can’t afford the premiums, were placed in a high-risk pool and priced out of coverage.

I’m asking you to call your representatives and find out where they stand on this latest TrumpCare bill.  If they are opposed, thank them for protecting your right to affordable coverage.  If they support TrumpCare, tell them about your pre-existing condition and why it’s important to you – and your (potential) family – that pre-existing conditions continue to be fully protected under any new healthcare law.

You might also want to find out where the $600 billion in tax breaks in the law are going – and how lawmakers intend on making up for that $600 billion deficit?

Need to find your representative?  Here’s an easy finder.

The hidden costs of daycare

I took my son out of daycare the week I had my daughter.  He had been in daycare for a little over a year and he had a great time there.  We paid a lot of money to have really great care, but no amount of money could really change some of the drawbacks to having him in that setting.  So for those of you contemplating using a day care facility for your little one once you go back to work, here’s my lessons learned.

First, the positives:

  • For kids with no close relatives (geographically, or in age) or siblings, day care helps them learn to share and live with others.  My son LOVES his sister and I think it’s because he was around lots of other little kids all the time.  He’s also great playing with other kids.
  • I could always rely on day care being available.  It was my responsibility to get him there, not to wait for someone to show up at my house.  And I could rely on them having plenty of supervision and qualified caretakers available.
  • My son learned things he wasn’t learning at home, like baby sign language, which has been a huge help.
  • For me, I got to hear advice from other moms and teachers, which was helpful as a first-time mom. They taught me about mum-mum cookies, showed me it was ok to fasten a diaper tightly, and reassured me about normal baby behavior. I am grateful to his early teacher for sharing their stories with me, supporting me, and showing him as much compassion as they did.
  • My son loves his sister and plays well with others. He was always a social baby and I think he did well in the day care classroom environment.
  • I didn’t have to think of clever activities to do – his teachers did that for me and he came home with projects and art work, and sometimes a card made of his hand and footprints that made me cry.

The negatives:

  • My son learned things he wasn’t learning at home, like throwing his food off his tray when he was done with it.  I know he picked that up from other kids at school.  It has taken a month to unlearn this habit – now he politely pushes his food away and says “Done,” or sometimes signs “done.”
  • My son was constantly sick.  While it took almost six months for him to develop his first ear infection at day care, he had three ear infections within a period of six weeks and was on antibiotics throughout the holiday season.  He had a runny nose… always.  We went through a box of tissues a week – and that’s just with mornings, evenings, and weekends!  He was never a fully healthy kid.  Everyone says it gives kids a greater immune system later for school, but…
  • I had to leave work to get him when he was really sick.  Because he was sick a lot, I had to use a lot of my own sick time to pick him up, rush him to the doctor, and stay home with him while he recuperated.  Some weeks I only worked one day and struggled to keep up with my job.  I might as well have been a stay at home mom those weeks!
  • In addition to the monthly fees, there were always fundraisers or other things happening that required additional money.  From candy sales to book sales to holiday candle sales, there was always another ask for cash.  Then twice a year there was staff appreciation collections done by the parent council.  Not to mention things we had to purchase for class parties (such as food, valentines, cards, books, etc.).  And whenever we switched classrooms or celebrated a major holiday, I bought something small for his teachers.  There was something every month.
  • It was downright expensive.  Really, really, expensive.

I wish someone had told me about how much my son would be sick.  I knew what I was getting in to with the tuition of managed day care, but I wasn’t counting on the stress of getting that phone call to pick him up.  I had one hour to pick him up from the time of the phone call; one time the poor guy was in quarantine because of a goopy eye which they believed was pink eye.  So I usually had less than an hour to find or call my boss and explain the situation, send emails to anyone with whom I had meetings later that afternoon to inform them I’d cancel and reschedule, leave notes or sign timesheets if needed, let people in the office know how to reach me, and call the pediatrician and get an appointment.  (Oh, and if you’re pumping at work, don’t forget your breastmilk).  I wish I was better prepared for it.

So there you have it.  If you’re considering going with the option I did, instead of a babysitter, nanny, or relative and you’re returning to work, here’s some things to ask about when you visit the facility.  And be prepared.

The secret lives of moms: Competitive Mommies, Day Care Edition

I realized I had teased but never followed up on a story from the summertime about my first blush with competitive mommy behavior.  Until that point I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being a practical mommy – dressing my baby in hand-me-downs (because how many times do they really wear an outfit the first year before growing out of it?), using reasonably priced brands like Graco instead of Britax or Chicco (no matter how much I still drool over them…), purchasing toys at consignment sales and gratefully accepting toys from friends with older kids, actually using jarred (!) baby food instead of painstakingly pureeing my own (one of the big baby company manufacturing plants is actually not too far from where I live, so I could justify it being local), using formula, etc.  You do the best to make the best decisions with the information and resources (time, money) that you have to do what’s right for your family – end of story.

Then Ms. Perfect came along.  Her son was in the same infant classroom as mine and was born exactly one month ahead of mine.  I could see early on that his development – sitting up, rolling over, waving, walking – far superseded the timeline of my own son.  A month might go by and my little one would not have caught up to his Perfect classmate.  Ms. Perfect, however, had in less than six months shrunk down back to a size 0, wearing cute outfits every day, great shoes, perfect hair, never looking harried or rushed – while I was still struggling to lose the last 10 pounds, still in my maternity work pants on particularly bad days, and feeling like I was barely holding it together.  How did she do it?  Worst of all, she was nice – as we dropped off and picked up at about the same times, we often saw each other in the hallway or classroom and made small talk.  In an alternate universe I imagined us actually being friends.

But I didn’t hold all of this against her, at least, not at first.  She drives a gas-guzzling Chevy Tahoe (that makes me feel practical by comparison) and I have no idea what her life is really like, what she does for a living, how happy she might be.  She’s got a kid who’s an early bloomer, so what?  No need to get my panties in a bunch.

One day there was a sign-up outside the classroom door for parents to bring in breakfast during Teacher Appreciation Week.  One of my biggest and best go-to breakfast dishes is a baked French toast casserole.  It feeds a crowd, isn’t terribly hard to make, and turns out very gourmet.  It’s so well-liked that it is guaranteed to show up on my Christmas brunch table every year.  I headed over to the sign-up sheet, pen in hand, ready to volunteer my baking – and there it was, in perfectly legible mom-handwriting.

French toast casserole – Ms. Perfect

That b!  Foiled again!  I quickly wrote down “banana bread” and walked away.

It turns out it was probably the better choice to bring something simple.  My banana bread is pretty good, relatively healthy, and, as it was a staff-wide breakfast, my teachers wouldn’t have been able to pick out my breakfast from someone else’s.  Plus they’re so busy they probably would have only had time (and hands) to grab something and go.

Well, I learned my lesson.  There were a few with this one:

1. Sometimes being a mom means being served up a huge dose of humility.

2. There’s nothing wrong with taking a shortcut every now and then.  There is a time and a place for the French toast casserole, and this time wasn’t it.

3. People appreciate the little things as much as, and sometimes more, than the big gestures.

The woman I’ve warned you about is me

I’ve had lots of curious recent discoveries into the world of infertilite mommyhood that I thought I would have been able to avoid, given my own story and situation.  But as I stared into the face of my sister-in-law as we walked through a children’s consignment sale during her 7th month of pregnancy, I realized that I had become my own worst nightmare.  I was the woman with the horror stories about giving birth.  I was the woman who thought it was better to give you the reality check than the comforting words you need to hear.  And I thought I was doing it all for the right reasons.

As it turns out, my advice is probably best suited for only other infertilites.  Although I was aware that my SIL had been told by her doctor she’d never be able to have kids, I didn’t know why and I never asked.  I knew she was devastated at the time, and as such, was (presumably) really psyched to actually be pregnant given her infertilite status.  She’s a very go-with-the-flow kind of free spirit, so I let her lead the way with questions for most of her pregnancy and I avoided mothering her too much.  I was proud of myself for having gotten this far, knowing that along her pregnancy she had some complications of her own – too much amniotic fluid, the baby grew very large, and she kept getting dehydrated.  So when it came time for some SIL-bonding at the sale, I took the opportunity to make sure she was more prepared than I was for the time of the birth.

This was an unfortunate mistake, however.  Because as it turns out, the advice that I have for someone who is pregnant isn’t really relevant for the majority of moms-to-be.  I had biweekly non-stress tests.  The doctors and midwives joked my baby would glow in the dark I had so many ultrasounds, because he didn’t grow to average size.  And I had a baby in the breech position with no chance of even squeezing out a natural birth.  Add in to the equation a few other factors, like the small size of my baby, my passing out hours after the c-section, my lack of labor pains (and them being back labor pains when I did have them all of two times), and my difficulty with breastfeeding, and you’ve got yourself a nightmare for a new mom-to-be.  Yikes!

So, yes, I told her all of these things…  mostly because she asked and was curious, and wanted to know what all of it was like.  But nearly every statement I said had to be qualified or dismissed with something like, “But that’s just because he was breech,” or “That’s just me, that’s not the normal experience.”  And with every piece of advice I could give, other than stocking up on sanitary pads, I became increasingly aware of how awful I must sound and how unhelpful it really was.  She really had no chance of having half the difficulties I did, so why bother scaring her with them?

Now that she’s had the baby, who was born a week after her due date, she’s remained just as relaxed about motherhood as you could imagine a free spirit being.  She’s had no troubles breastfeeding, her baby was a whopping 9 pounds, and she had to be induced.  After 24 hours of labor that went nowhere, the doctors gave her the option for a c-section and she took it.  Realizing how exhausting it had been for me to recover from that surgery – and mine was blissfully scheduled and relaxed, not preceded by a day of labor – my husband and I waited two full days before visiting in the hospital (unlike the rest of the family).  I don’t see a trace of shell-shock in her face, as I imagine mine was full of, and I keep my mouth shut about the aftermath of giving birth.  I nod as I listen because the first few weeks with a newborn are a universal period of unconditional love and personal sacrifice, and we all can relate to that.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my stories to myself until the day comes when someone who truly needs to know, for her own health, asks.  And, of course, to all of you – because you wouldn’t be reading my blog unless you hadn’t already wondered.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Bonus Content

Who doesn’t love a bonus?  Ok, this will be my last promotional post about this –

  • collection-image-525-x-644Infertility Summer Reading List Compilation eBook

Fourteen authors in the Infertility Survival Kit share their inspirational infertility stories to help you navigate your journey with excerpts and chapters from their books to create an exclusive Infertility Summer Reading List eBook Compilation. This is a one of a kind eBook that

allows you to preview these books and get a sense for which book(s) best matches your needs. Check out these books in the Infertility Survival Kit and connect with the authors at #ifbooks where you can tweet the authors and learn more about their journey. Ebook compilation includes an exclusive sampler from the Fertile Kitchen Cookbook including recipes.

  • Infertility Insights – Voices Shared, Lessons Learned eBook

We asked the infertility community through blogs and social media to complete the statement, “I wish I would have known…. about infertility”. These voices in the community show their strength and courage by sharing their powerful lessons learned in an effort to help others on their journey. The eBook includes each person’s link in the Infertility Survival Kit so you may connect to them through their social media, blogs and website. Many of them advocate and support this community with a passion to make a difference on your journey.

  • Three Simple Steps to Setting Boundaries with Your Fertile Friends Guide – Renee Wagenner

This quick guide helps you have that difficult conversation with the person in your life that doesn’t know how to support you on your infertility journey. Three simple steps including how to set boundaries with the “Do Do” list.


  • Three Strategies for Taking Charge of Your Fertility – Russell Davis

The eBook was written to help you grow your family, whether through natural or assisted conception, by introducing you to the power of your mind and what it can achieve for you. You can remove the hidden mental obstacles to having a baby as well as influencing your body to create the best possible outcome.

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A Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Exclusive Look at Content Cont.

Rounding out the books included in this ginormous collection:

  • collection-image-525-x-644Infertility Road to Hell and Back – Azelene Williams (18.95)

Infertility Road to Hell and Back is a memoir of Azelene’s Williams’ struggle with infertility. What about when that longed for baby never happens? When you realize that something is wrong and turn to professionals for help. Tests are done; treatments tried without success. Instantly connect with Azelene in her heartfelt infertility story.

  • Annual Premium Membership to My Hopeful Journey’s fertility organizer & Quick Start Guide ($60)

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