Photo: @SenDuckworth via Twitter
Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth is used to making history.
When she was elected to Congress in Illinois in 2012, the Iraq war veteran was the first Asian-American woman to hold that office, and was the first disabled woman as well.
And yesterday, Duckworth, who's 49, announced that she's expecting her second child, which will make her the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office. (Ten other members of Congress have given birth while in office, but they were members of the House of Representatives.)
Becoming pregnant again is certainly a joyous outcome for Duckworth, who's due to have a second daughter in April, but even more so given the lengths she's had to go to get there. Duckworth will be turning 50 this spring, and as with her first child—Abigail, who was born in 2014—she endured multiple rounds of IVF to become pregnant. Duckworth has been remarkably open about her journey to conceive, revealing that she suffered a miscarriage while running for Senate in 2016.
Duckworth is a retired lieutenant colonel who served a total of 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard. She lost her legs and shattered her right arm when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. She was first elected to the Illinois’ 8th Congressional District seat in November 2012, before winning her Senate bid in 2016.
The Democrat joins 21 other women currently in the Senate, many of whom are mothers. And she's not the only woman in U.S. politics who grabbed headlines with announcements of her pregnancy. In 2001, Jane Swift, the governor of Massachusetts, became the first sitting governor to give birth (to twins, no less!) while in office. (In fact, Swift first drew attention a few years earlier while campaigning for the role of Lieutenant Governor, all while pregnant with her first child.) And elsewhere, just last week, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, 37, announced that she will give birth to her first child, and will take six weeks of leave, while her partner, Clarke Gayford, would also take leave from his job to be a stay-at-home parent.
Becoming a mother has no doubt informed some of the parent-focused lawmaking that Duckworth has led while in office. Since Abigail was born, Duckworth has authored measures to make sure major airports offer places for breastfeeding mothers to pump milk; the military creates a uniform policy for giving personnel time to bond with their newborn and adopted babies; and to make sure student parents have on-campus child care.