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By Amanda Bailey Leach
Published in the Fall 2011 issue of Resolve for the journey and beyond
What a difference a day makes. I had travelled all the way from Birmingham, Alabama, to Washington, D.C, to participate in RESOLVE’s Advocacy Day. On the morning of May 5, 2011, I walked into Union Hilton passionate, excited, nervous, and finally ready to speak up not just for myself, but also for infertile women all over my state and nation. Allow me to point out that before this day, I had never been to D.C., ridden a train or lugged a suitcase around a city at night while hailing a cab. (You may be muttering “redneck” under your breath… I prefer, ahem, “southern belle.”)
A month before that day, not even all of my immediate family members knew I was struggling with infertility. But on Advocacy Day, I marched myself up to the secret service and requested a photo opportunity after succinctly giving them the key points in my “elevator speech.”
My story is most likely different than those of the majority of the women (and men) who were in the conference room that morning. You see, I had only been to one RESOLVE meeting. As in, ever. But it’s time for a change. I’m three years into my journey, and I’m done hiding from baby showers, avoiding fertile friends and family and feeling like my reproductive organs are living life as some type of second rate citizens. One meeting was all it took to light a fire in me that will not be extinguished until something changes. And by something, I mean everything!
I was able to meet and hear the stories of women that stirred me to my core. I saw magnificent courage, and felt a hope rising up in me that I thought died with the words, “I’m sorry Mrs. Leach, we can’t tell you why, but most likely you won’t be able to have children.” Hope is not dead… and neither am I! I can make a difference! I found a community… a sisterhood, if you will, that forms by rites of passage I never dreamed I would experience.
As I walked the halls filled with men and women who hold the pens which ink my legal destiny, I felt a fearlessness begin to swell within my soul. And then, I heard it. It began as a whisper, almost inaudible. “You can do this… keep going… you can change it all.” Meeting after meeting, aides and staff members nodded and smiled, and the voice within me became louder. By the time I walked into our closing reception, I wanted to raise my arms and leap across the threshold as if I was a runner crossing a finish line. I longed to shout, “WE can do this, y’all! Keep going! WE can change it all!”
But it isn’t the finish line, is it? This is only the beginning!
When I got back home to Birmingham, Alabama, my fellow RESOLVE Advocate Jessica Sasser and I were ready to keep going! We set up meetings with the physicians and medical directors at each of the three main fertility clinics in Birmingham. We plan on informing them about our trip and the issues for which we are lobbying. We hope to continue to form great relationships at each of the major clinics in the Birmingham metro area. I am certainly not making any promises other than to knock on every door and pursue every avenue that may be beneficial to our cause.
Finally, we have two longer term goals. We want to bring RESOLVE events to Birmingham by hosting a Walk of Hope in Birmingham and also an Ask the Expert! We are FIRED UP.
I walked away from Advocacy Day forever changed. Here’s to the rest of the race… may each of us become resolved along the way. We can do it. With your help, I want to change it ALL.
Equal parts sass and honey, Alabama native Amanda Bailey Leach resides in Homewood, where the humidity has nothing on her Texas-size hair. She doesn’t want to know a world without lip gloss and oversize sunglasses, but the greatest loves of her life are Jesus and her gorgeous husband, Matt. They are falling more in love each day and together they are learning that this journey to build a family is one that actually has blessings around every turn. Amanda’s never met a stranger and considers it her great fortune to have a mile-wide smile that invites anybody—anybody—she meets to tell her their story.