It was really interesting and amazing to participate in this process and to realize that we as individual constituents can have a big influence on what information our legislators have and whether they support an effort or not. Our lobbyist said that legislators sometimes reconsider their position on a bill when they know that even one constituent is paying attention to the bill and cares about it and takes the time to go all the way to Springfield to say so.
I was nervous to talk to my legislator for some reason. One of my fellow mamas reminded me that HE works for ME, and that he needs to hear what I and other constituents care about, because that is what him representing us is all about. Sometimes it's easy to forget this simple fact. I enjoyed talking to Harry Osterman, and he was really nice! I think our representatives enjoyed seeing us there and knowing we cared about the work they are doing. And now that I've gone and talked to my legislator, I'm not afraid to do it again.
I have often felt that there is not much I can do to help support legislation that I care about, or that there is no connection between us and our government. But if we create a connection, there can be one. And creating it is easier than it seems.
It was great to be there with others who care about mothers and babies and birth options in our state and are working hard to change things for the better.
We had a terrific rally and lobby day! Thank you to everyone who traveled to Springfield to support certified professional midwives! Our theme was "got midwife?". We lobbied our state representatives, and we passed out m&ms and cookies to the Illinois House.
There were an estimated one hundred home birth supporters, packing the halls of the capitol including nearly twenty members of the Amish community.
View pictures here! http://www.flickr.com/photos/21451753@N00/sets/72157613649229995/detail/
We began the day with a large crowd gathering in the cafeteria for a pep talk and marching orders from two of our fearless sponsors -- Rep. Julie Hamos and Rep. Paul Froehlich. After materials were distributed, our caravan of moms and dads with strollers, slings and babes in arms set out on the adventure of tracking down their reps and sharing their stories. Everyone was wearing black got midwife teeshirts and/or buttons.
Throughout the day we heard mostly good reports back from everyone! Our information table we well visited, because who can resist pictures of our gorgeous born at home children? We owe a very special thank you to Judy Cole for tirelessly managing the table and Jacque Shannon-McNulty for helping us distribute t-shirts!!!
In the afternoon reinforcements arrived as a second wave of supporters joined us! We met many people who wanted to buy our teeshirts, including a professional lobbyist whose wife had a birth with a midwife at West Suburban. (West Suburban is where the midwife who passed the free-standing birth center bill works, and all their midwives have been encouraging their patients to support our bill!!) Also in the afternoon, we were joined by Rep. Dan Burke.
There were a large number of health care professionals in attendance today, including several nurses, chiropractic physicians, nurse-midwifery students, doulas and certified professional midwife students.
At the end of the day, we heard a report from a very supportive senator that in his meeting with our new governor, he made sure they knew the cookies they were eating were from the midwives!!
Today we began to process all that we learned on Tuesday, while our sponsors continue to work on their end. In the next few days, we will have more details about how best to proceed from here, so stay tuned ...