Sen. Tammy Duckworth, the first disabled woman to serve in the House and the first Asian-American member of Congress from Illinois, is on course to chalk up another first: She's six months pregnant with her second child, which will make her the first senator to give birth while in office. Her daughter, Abigail, was born while she was serving in the House in 2014. Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down, will be 50 in March. She says getting pregnant a second time was a "struggle" that involved multiple IVF cycles and a miscarriage during her 2016 Senate campaign, but she "feels great," the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Another nine women have given birth while serving in the House, including GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who had three children while serving.
Duckworth, who recently returned from a trip to Asia, tells the Chicago Tribune that being a mother has helped shape the way she legislates. "I think back to when I was deployed to Iraq and what it was like for people to leave their children and babies. I know women who left 8-week-old infants," the Democrat says. "This trip to Japan and Korea was seven days, and it's the longest I've been away from my daughter, and it was horrible." Asked how she feels about becoming the first senator to give birth, she said: "Well, 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." (In 2014, Nancy Pelosi refused to let Duckworth vote by proxy when she was unable to travel because of pregnancy.)