infertility-advocacy-dayThere are thoughts that have been rumbling around in my brain for the last week.

Here are the seemingly independent thoughts:

  1. Mother’s Day
  2. My new job title, “Patient Advocate”
  3. Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, organized by Resolve

They don’t look so independent and disconnected written down. Good, maybe I’m not rambling as much as I thought I was.

Let’s take them one at a time.

My Final Word on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day. It’s more than possible that the last thing you want to do is hear one more single thing about Mother’s Day. It’s probable that you don’t want to hear more about it. It’s over and done with. You got through it. Praying and hoping that next year, it will be a joyful day for you, baby in arms. Think of this as an after Mother's Day experience and bear with me for just a few minutes.

I want to share an experience with you that I had on Sunday. I was at a workshop with my husband. There were one hundred couples, two hundred people in all. When the facilitator gathered us together to start the morning session, I dreaded it, but fully expected it– the announcement. The congratulations. Mother’s Day, of course. Honoring all the mother’s in the room. He took it a step further and asked all the mothers in the room to stand up. My husband grabbed my hand; he knew my reaction. Tremendous sadness.  

A few minutes later, there was a microphone available to talk about the work we had done the night before. Bill looked at me and said, “Do it”. I knew what he was talking about, of course I did. And I didn’t want to do it. There were two hundred people in the room! None of whom I knew past a pleasant hello. The facilitator was a great guy, imparting lots of sage wisdom– I didn’t want to be the one to seem to criticize him.

I raised my hand. I took the microphone. I stood up, knees shaking a little. “I want to honor all the men and women in the room who are not mothers”. Ok, well, that needed a little work. I sat down. The facilitator was a little confused, but sorted it out and acknowledged the women in the room who were not mothers. We went on with the course and all was fine.

Honoring All Men & Women, If They Are Parents Or Not

An hour or so later we took a quick break. I hadn’t even made it to the bathroom before I was stopped by a woman who gave me a big hug and thank you. She was in the middle of an IVF cycle and appreciated being acknowledged as having worth, mother or no mother. Several other people came over to speak to Bill and me during that break. One comment that I heard from a man I had not even noticed before he approached us was that the woman sitting behind me looked like she had been punched in the stomach when the facilitator had wished everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and asked the moms to stand. And how her face was wreathed in smiles when I stood and made my less than eloquent statement. Bill and I spent several minutes with a woman who shared stories about her “furry” babies. French bulldogs, whom she adopted when she and her husband made the hard decision to stop fertility treatment cycles. All in all, eight people found the courage to come and speak with me. I cherished each and every one of those conversations.

Just to be very clear, this is not about me patting myself on the back. This is not about how wonderful a person I am. How brave I am. How compassionate I am. It’s just not.

One in Six to Eight Couples Have Trouble Conceiving

It’s about a simple math equation. There were two hundred people in the room. The statistics on infertility are clear. One in 6-8 couples have trouble conceiving. I am no math genius, I made it very simple. There were two hundred people. There were women in that room who had experienced infertility, or lost a pregnancy, or had a child with fertility treatment or were childfree not quite by choice. I had absolutely no doubt that there were women in the room who felt “less than” by the reminder that they were not moms. As if they needed reminding.

Why did I stand up? Because didn’t want those women to feel alone. Because they needed to know they weren’t alone. Because that’s what I do. I stand up for men and women with infertility. That leads me to number two, my new job title.

My New Job Title – Fertility Patient Advocate

Thank you to Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) for creating a position for me with a job title that fits so perfectly. Thank you for understanding the need for such a role in a fertility practice. Even one whose doctors, clinical team and support teams routinely shows genuine compassion towards their patients. I would have stood up anyway on Sunday, of course I would have. Having the power of the title, “Patient Advocate”, having it considered meaningful and important made standing that much easier and more clear that it was necessary.

And here we come to advocacy and what that means. It means standing up in a room and honoring women because they are women, whether they are mothers or not. It means going in front of people, senators, members of the congress, house representatives and more– people who can affect change. Tomorrow is Advocacy Day in Washington DC. Thank you Resolve, for being the force to pull this effort together. I will not be there tomorrow, but I promise you, I will be there next year. For this year, I am posting this link to Resolve's website

Advocacy Day – Get Involved in Infertility Coverage, Rights & Awareness

Press it. Add your voice. Understand your rights. Learn what is being done and said about infertility coverage, rights and awareness.

Advocacy is done on all different scales. From the very personal, confiding in a friend so that they get help if it seems needed to standing up in front of two hundred people with your knees shaking to going to Washington and speaking with policy makers.

What are you comfortable doing? Write to me at this secure email address– FertileYoga@gmail.com

I can share your voice, here, anonymously.

What do you want people to know about how infertility has affected you?

Topics: Support, Advocacy Day

Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.

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