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Hidden Gems: Meet Mollie Walker of Tennessee Fertility Advocates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mollie Walker.

Hi Mollie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My husband and I got married in 2012, I always knew I wanted to be a mom and just assumed it would be easy to start a family and boy was I wrong. It was extremely difficult and took me on an emotional rollercoaster. I was diagnosed with female factor infertility which consisted of ovulation and blood clotting disorders.

I really didn’t know many people who talked about infertility or miscarriages; however, I knew one of my lifelong friends, Lauren Brown, struggled with it as well. In 2020, Lauren and I participated in a federal advocacy day for infertility and we became very interested in advocacy efforts, especially in Tennessee.

Nineteen other states have coverage, so we were like, why not Tennessee? After alot of prayer and discussion we took the leap of faith and organically started Tennessee Fertility Advocates (TFA) in the summer of 2020 and the grassroots organization has taken off, more than we could have ever imagined.

I always prayed God would give my pain a purpose and he has done just that. I wouldn’t change it for anything because through my journey I have learned so much about this disease and what it means to truly advocate for yourself and for others.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My journey has been nothing but smooth. It consisted of mental, physical, and financial exhaustion. It took me to a place of complete and utter dependence on the Lord and HIS plan for our life. People would constantly ask questions like “when are you going to get pregnant” or “don’t you want a child.” If they only knew the harsh reality of infertility, I was facing and the pain that came with it. These questions are just a few of many that would come my way often.

I suffered in silence for many years, which led to depression, loneliness, and embarrassment that my body wasn’t doing what it was made to do. I finally was tired of the shame and felt called to share and open up regarding my story. Which now I am so glad I did because of all those who started saying they struggle as well or this helped them feel less alone.

Not only was it difficult to conceive but we also experienced two miscarriages. It was so painful. Perhaps the lowest of lows I have ever felt.

However, it is a part of my story and allows me to have great empathy and understanding for others.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Infertility is classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. One in six couples experiences infertility. However, fertility care, such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is not offered by most insurance plans in Tennessee. Fertility challenges are due to 1/3 male factor, 1/3 female factor, or 1/3 unexplained or both. When fertility coverage is offered it allows families to make better medical decisions and seek treatment earlier on. The goal is to have safe pregnancies and healthy babies. Coverage for infertility can help with that goal.

After years of experiencing infertility and listening to similar stories from friends, family members, and strangers, we identified a disparity within the Tennessee healthcare system that must be addressed. As a result, we formed Tennessee Fertility Advocates, a pro-family grassroots organization of Tennesseans advocating for fertility health legislation to become law so that men and women can access the medical treatments they need.

Our mission is to support the community, raise awareness, de-stigmatize infertility, and educate others. We highlight our advocates and give them a platform to share their stories on our website and social media. We also help advocates talk to their employers, and we’re working hard to pass legislation so Tennessee can be the next state to see coverage. The legislation is called the TN Pro-Family Building Act and it would cover fertility diagnosis, fertility treatments, including medication, and fertility preservation.

The legislation was introduced in early 2021 to the TN General Assembly and we are excited about the momentum that has been built and looking forward to returning in 2022 with even stronger language and an even larger, passionate advocacy group in 2022.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
My prayer is over the next 5-10 years we will see more employers adding family-friendly benefits such as infertility coverage. That it will become the standard for all companies not just in Tennessee, but across the United States. Also, that Tennessee would pass the Tennessee Pro-Family Building Act and coverage would be required for infertility treatment and fertility preservation.

Most importantly, we want to continue to provide support and awareness for this disease. People shouldn’t have to suffer in silence as I did. The more we talk about this disease and shed light on it, the fewer people will feel embarrassed and alone.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lindsey Ford Photography, Karen Waits Photography, and Dreamboat Photography

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