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I wear the scarlet letter “I” on my chest. Wear it with me.

Copyright: aleutie / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: aleutie / 123RF Stock Photo

Squeezing into pantyhose, a suit and skirt, was not easy with my quickly changing body as I progress through this much coveted pregnancy….but I took one for the team folks. As I stated in my last blog post, I am exiting Infertility Highway, but am not leaving behind my community of “fertility challenged” friends. I have had a quiet, but not-so-secret, plan of action brewing for some time to propose to the Washoe County School District insurance board that infertility treatment should be covered in our benefits. As a teacher for over 10 years, I spent 7 of those years struggling to conceive. Months of research, information and resource gathering has led me to stand in front of the school board room with 20 or so stoic faces staring back at me. Displayed on the projector was research, and my proposal, while carried in my voice was all the professionalism I could muster. I had to tamp down the urge to scream and stomp my feet or burst into an emotional monologue, but all went well. I was the best presenter I could be at that moment in time. I provided excellent resources and reasons and with the help of many others, supplied a collection of heartfelt letters. These letters told the stories of many other teachers among us who have suffered the pain and financial burden of infertility.

Fact:

  • 1/8 people suffer from infertility
  • WCSD has ~ 8,000 insured employees
  • Infertility is recognized as a medical disease
  • Reproduction is considered by law a “Major Life Activity”
  • Infertility affects health, physically, socially and emotionally

 The members of the board politely listened, seemingly engaged in the content, asked several questions afterwards….but honestly I have no idea what they were thinking. Zero feedback. I walked out with the Doctor, our very own Dr. Scott Whitten, and thanked him for supporting me, and answering questions. I’m left now wondering if I made a difference, hoping I started a conversation that will continue, and knowing I couldn’t have done any more or any better.

My hopes are that others reading this may find the encouragement to go to their employers as well. We are in an era that is on the cusp of major change. However, that change won’t happen without more pushing. There are currently 15 states in the U.S. that require some amount of insurance coverage for this disease. Most other developed countries require coverage.

In my preparation for this presentation I found many intriguing pieces of information.

There are several employers in the Reno area that offer infertility coverage. I tried to confirm these all, but unless I got the information from an employee I couldn’t confirm it. Proprietary information I was told. If you have more information about companies that cover treatment, I’d love to hear from you! Please contact me so I can update this list.

1. IGT- unlimited coverage at 100% (confirmed).

2. Microsoft- coverage at 90% (confirmed).

3. Mars Pet Food- factory outside of Fernley- (unconfirmed)

4. Harley Davidson (unconfirmed)

5. Private insurance through Nevada Health covers Intrauterine inseminations (unconfirmed).

6. Frito Lay (unconfirmed)

This information is important to me because while trying to conceive I was actively hunting for a new job that either would pay enough in salary for me to afford out-of-pocket expenses, or a company that provides coverage. How sad is that? I was looking at choosing between the job I love, teaching children…and having my own children.

Fortunately, Baby Quest Foundation saved me from that choice.  I hope that the school district can find a way to offer treatment so other teachers experiencing infertility will have options that don’t mean leaving the profession. We have enough struggles maintaining an adequate teaching force as it is.

My challenge to you all is this…Advocate! Go to your employers, put this on their radar. Let’s start a new trend, a grassroots, an organic effort for impactful change. We have to stand up for ourselves, and our friends. Infertility can feel shameful and embarrassing, but if it’s not us asking for ourselves, then who will? Please share this with anyone you know suffering infertility.

I wear the scarlet letter “I” on my chest. Wear it with me.

Check out my story www.babyjailbreak.blogspot.com

Image credit: fromodbooks.org
Image credit: fromodbooks.org

amanda schlatterAmanda Schlatter is a Reno mom of 2 year old Noah, a teacher for the school district, and an advocate for children and families. After seven years of suffering the disease of infertility, she and her husband finally succeeded in pregnancy through the help of a charity called Baby Quest. More can be read about her journey at www.babyjailbreak.blogspot.com

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