When my daughter Abigail was born, she was sick and unable to swallow. In the hours after her birth, we didn’t know what was wrong as doctors and nurses ran test after test.
But 24 hours after she was born – even though I had no sleep for two days and she was very sick and would spend weeks more in the hospital – insurance company rules forced me out the door.
I said to my husband as he wheeled me out of the hospital, “This would never happen to the head of the HMO.”
I was a young, new mom with a sick baby, not an elected official. I could have just let it go. But ultimately I decided I was not going to sit back and let what happened to me happen to anyone else.
I began calling my legislators, I testified at the State Capitol, and I fought for and succeeded in enacting one of the nation’s first mandatory 48-hour hospital maternity stays for new moms and their babies.
When there was a question about the bill’s enactment date, I arrived at the conference committee with six very pregnant friends. When the legislators asked when this bill should take effect, the pregnant women all raised their hands and said, “Now!” And of course, that’s what happened.
This was a defining moment for me. It led me to run for local office and ultimately the U.S. Senate. It taught me that if I wanted to see change, I was going to have to make it happen. Seventeen years later, after eight years as Hennepin County Attorney and six years as a U.S. Senator, I try to live by that same principle. And always remember – if you want to see change happen before your eyes, it’s always good to have six pregnant women by your side.