Tammy Duckworth Becomes First Senator To Give Birth In Office

Tammy Duckworth has become the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

The Illinois Democrat gave birth to a girl on Monday. The proud mom and Iraq War veteran announced the historic and joyful news on Twitter, along with revealing her newborn’s name: Maile Pearl.

Duckworth, who turned 50 last month, had her first daughter, Abigail, in 2014 while she was representing a Chicago-area House district. The Purple Heart recipient, who lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm while deployed as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, is one of only 10 women to have given birth while in Congress.

She’s also among the handful of Asian-American women in Congress.

Duckworth’s husband, Bryan Bowlsby, is an Army cyber warrant officer. His great-aunt also served in the Army, and like her newborn was named Pearl.

“Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson was Bryan’s great Aunt, an Army Officer & a nurse who served during the Second World War,” Duckworth tweeted. “He spent many summer months with her while growing up, we feel her presence still and are grateful for her service to our nation during the most challenging of times.”

Duckworth and her husband, Army Cyber Warrant Officer Bryan Bowlsbey, now have two daughters.

Duckworth, who attended the University of Hawaii, credited the late former Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) with helping her and her husband name both of their daughters.

Akaka’s died at age 93 last week, but Duckworth said his help with her children’s names means “he will always be with us.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was among those celebrating Maile’s birth on Twitter, and she promised that “your mommy and many of her friends are doing their very best to make this a better world for you.”

Warren has already sought to deliver on that promise, vowing to help fight Senate rules that bar senators from voting or sponsoring legislation while on maternity leave. 

Duckworth told Politico in February that she couldn’t “technically take maternity leave” because she didn’t want to lose her voting or sponsorship privileges. She said she planned to take 12 weeks of paid leave, but was working out how to do so and not lose those privileges.

Senate rules also prohibit lawmakers from bringing their child onto the Senate floor. “If I have to vote, and I’m breastfeeding my child, especially during my maternity leave period, what do I do? Leave her sitting outside?” Duckworth said to Politico.

Duckworth announced her pregnancy in January, opening up about the challenges of getting pregnant. She described it on Monday as a “decades-long journey to complete our family.”

Some of her Senate colleagues threw a baby shower for Duckworth.

Some of her Senate colleagues threw a baby shower for Duckworth.

As for the historic milestone for women in office, she previously told The Chicago Tribune: “It’s about damn time.”

“I can’t believe it took until 2018. It says something about the inequality of representation that exists in our country,” she said.

“Men have been having children while they’ve been in office,” she said. “I hope if anything comes out of the Women’s March, it’s that we get more and more women running for office. It would be good to have some company here.”

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