Wednesday night I flew into Baltimore at about 11pm. Weather and traffic were terrible (it was very nice to have a chauffered car waiting for me so I didn't have to hail a taxi) and it was about 1am before I got to my hotel room. The hotel reminded me a lot of the W in Chicago and I was a little sad to see the lobby wasn't filled with drunken bloggers when I arrived! (Suggestion to Swanky Hotels: You should keep drunken bloggers on staff to loiter in the lobby, they really brighten the mood.) Once I got to my room, I plugged in my laptop and much to my dismay couldn't connect to the Internet. As my hands began to shake from the early symptoms of withdrawl, I dialed the tech support line and whoever it was that answered the phone in the middle of the night was a lifesaver. He hooked me right in, free of charge! After briefly checking in online, I hopped in the shower and tried to go to sleep, but it takes me forever to fall asleep in a new place! This was actually the first time I've stayed in a hotel all by my lonesome, which was a little strange, but also nice and quiet.
My alarm went off at 7am and I started to get ready. I ordered breakfast as advised, but it did not sit well and I ended up getting pretty sick. I thought I had come down with KayTar's stomach virus, but thankfully that wasn't the case. I was fine the rest of the day, just suffered from low blood sugar symptoms once a few hours passed without food. After checking out, I walked over to the CDF office with a very nice man named Thomas and we met up with other participants and drove to the clinic. It took a while for the celebrities to arrive, so we all had a chance to chat a little. I spoke with Sharon Ladin who told me about this new website that was just recently launched Speak Now for Kids, which is advocating for children's healthcare reform and is looking for stories from all across the nation about uninsured and underinsured children. (if you have a story to share, please do!).
Once the celebrities arrived, we all took our seats in a big circle of chairs (surrounded by media, EEK!) and started the discussion. I was the first speaker! Two other mothers were present to share their stories, which dealt primarily with being underinsured, and several of the doctors from the clinic shared their own experiences with patients in varying situations. I think it went very well! From there, we went downstairs and a few of the celebrities read stories to the children in the clinic, after which we all hopped on a bus and drove to the Capitol. While on the bus, I sat next to Regina King and chatted a little while scarfing down some pasta and a delicious brownie (with nuts! it felt so rebellious!) and by that time we had arrived.
It had turned into a beautiful and was even a little warm on the long walk up to the building! I'm not used to running around in heels and my feet are paying for it today! On the way up, I had a chance to talk with Keri Russell and Jessica Alba. Everyone was very friendly and personable. It was a wonderful group of women! At varying times of the day I also had the pleasure of talking with Jurnee Smollett, Ali Wentworth, Malaak Compton-Rock, Michelle Fenty, Katie McGrath (JJ Abrams' wife, who was incredibly kind and passionate about children's health reform), as well as many people from the Children's Defense Fund, including Marian Edelman Wright, and women from related organizations. It was quite a day, that's for sure.
Once we arrived in the room, which was gorgeous, we were joined by four congresswomen from varying states and once again I was able to share our story. It was warmly received, as it usually is and I hope these women will be able to use it as a reference when explaining the crack in the system to those who cannot see the cracks for themselves. There are millions of children falling straight through the holes in our current system, just like mine did. We have say enough is enough and fix things and fix them the right way this time.
After that meeting, Susan Gates from the CDF walked me back to the office so I could catch my car back to the Baltimore airport. My driver totally hit on me, which is one of those sentences I never thought I'd write, probably because I don't have many drivers and also because I've been married for (a month shy of) 9 years and don't get hit on regularly. He was laying it on thick though, it was pretty entertaining, and he got me to the airport on time, too! The security gate was pretty backed up and I made it to my gate just in time for boarding. Once I got to the airport here in town, I still had another hour of driving ahead of me (this time I was driving myself and no one was complimenting me, what a pity), but Josh let the kids stay up to see me. KayTar was standing at the garage door and shouted "HI MOM!" and squeezed me to death when I walked in. BubTar was like, "What'd ya get me?!" And just like that life went right back to normal.
It was such a whirlwind trip, I was there for less than 24 hours, but we really managed to pack it in. I met so many wonderful people and heard so many different stories, it was a little overwhelming. It will probably take a few days to really process it all, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go and share our story once again in a forum that will allow our voices to be heard far and wide. Sometimes I really wonder how I ended up in the middle of all of this, but I think in the end it will pay off, not just for my children, but for all of the children of this great nation.
Today KayTar's story was featured in Marian Wright Edelman's Child Watch Column. You can follow that link to read all about it. If you are new to my blog and don't know about our insurance struggles, it is an excellent summary.
PS: Can you believe I don't have a SINGLE photo? It was raining when I left the hotel so I kept my camera in the suitcase so it wouldn't be damaged. I should have photos by next week, though, and I'll be sure to share them.
PPS: I didn't proofread this. Don't judge me. ;)
PPPS: I almost forgot, I made a 99 on that exam I has to take on the same afternoon that I flew to Baltimore!