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Illinois Senator's Pregnancy Is Historic for Moms

Photograph by Getty Images

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth will have another duckling in her family come spring, which will make her the first member of Senate to give birth while in office. The 49-year-old announced her pregnancy yesterday on Twitter with an image of three ducks and an additional duckling. The newest baby will join big sis Abigail, who is now 3 years old.

Photograph by Twitter

Duckworth has made history multiple times already. She was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in November 2016 after serving two terms in the House, making her the first Asian-American woman to be elected to Congress from Illinois. The retired Army lieutenant colonel is also the first disabled woman to be elected, after losing both her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting in the Iraq War.

Her pregnancy announcement may seem inconsequential in comparison, but it truly is amazing news for so many reasons.

The fact that this is even news in 2018 speaks to problems pregnant women can still face in the workplace. Pregnant women can be stigmatized and discriminated against, from being viewed as less competent to being denied opportunities because they might be missing time off work, which can also make them less likely to return to work after their babies are born.

Duckworth is only one of 10 women who have given birth while serving in Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who had her second child in 2008 when she was a U.S. representative, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has had three kids while serving in Congress (the most of any sitting lawmaker).

Being a mom has and will continue to impact Duckworth's agenda, including measures to ensure student parents have on-campus childcare and major airports offer places for breastfeeding moms to pump milk.

"I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my daughter Abigail has only made me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere," she wrote in a follow-up Tweet.

Duckworth has also been vocal about the difficulties women may face in trying to get pregnant. She and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, told the Chicago Sun-Times that they tried various fertilization methods for years before Abigail was conceived through IVF. After the first baby's C-section birth, they waited 18 months to try again. Since then, Duckworth has gone through multiple IVF cycles and a miscarriage in 2016.

Talk about a pregnancy announcement that's a win in so many ways.

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