According to an exclusive report in the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday, Illinois Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth is pregnant, which means she'll be the first senator ever to give birth while in office. "I feel great," she told The Times and added, "As tough as it’s been to juggle motherhood and the demands of being in the House and now the Senate, it’s made me more committed to doing this job."
Speaking to Chicago Sun Times, Duckworth spoke of how difficult her maternal journey had been. "I’ve had multiple IVF cycles," she said, "and a miscarriage trying to conceive again, so we’re very grateful." She said that she and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, are "thrilled" that their family is growing and her daughter, Abigail, is "ecstatic to welcome her baby sister home this spring."
Historically, there have been only 10 Congress members in the United States who have given birth while in office. All of them gave birth while they were House representatives, including Duckworth herself, who had her first daughter while serving in the House. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also had her two sons as a congresswoman. But Duckworth will be the first senator give birth while in the Senate. There are currently 22 women serving in the U.S. Senate.
Fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin spoke of Duckworth's pregnancy and said, "I am proud to have her as my Illinois colleague and prouder still that she will make history by being the first U.S. Senator to have a baby while in office. I couldn’t be happier for her."
Speaking of her own pregnancy, Duckworth expanded the conversation to the tough economics of parenting. In the United States, parenting is no easy feat. According to research conducted by Care, an agency on caregiving services for families, one in three American families spend at least 20 percent of their annual income on bringing up their children. Additionally, 63 percent of American parents say that the cost of raising children shapes the career choices they make. Plus, 33 percent said they would change or get more jobs to have more money for their children.
"Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue," Duckworth said, "it’s an economic issue and an issue that affects all parents—men and women alike. As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and Abigail [daughter] has only made me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere."
In July, Duckworth made airwaves throughout the country after she strongly criticized Donald Trump for his ban on transgender individuals joining the American military. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Trump's comments were "disruptive to the unit cohesion" of the American troops.
Duckworth also spoke of her own experience as a military member in Iraq. The senator had lost both of her legs after a rocket-propelled grenade hit her helicopter. "When I was bleeding to death in my helicopter after that RPG ripped through the cockpit of the aircraft, and an American came to save my life, it didn’t matter to me if they were gay, if they were straight, if they were transgendered, it only mattered that they wore the uniform of the United States military, and I will always remember that," she told Cooper.
With a baby around the block, Duckworth is due in April. For now, she is focusing on her family. Speaking of his fellow senator, Durbin said, "When she told me several weeks ago that she and Bryan were expecting a new baby to join their little Abigail, I was speechless. I have learned to never underestimate Tammy Duckworth."