Sen. Tammy Duckworth is using her own pregnancy to champion paid leave for moms ?

Senator Tammy Duckworth proves it. When we have more mothers in power, more mothers can be empowered. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth is using her own pregnancy to champion paid leave for moms ?

Motherhood has a way of opening your eyes to the challenges that parents around you have been working their way through. For many of us, this revelation inspires us to advocate for better parental rights however we can.

But for United States Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is set to be the first senator to give birth while serving in office, affecting positive change is already part of her job description—and she now plans to direct attention on improving workplace conditions for mothers.

Speaking on Politico’s Women Rule podcast this week, the Democrat from Illinois says she’s already running into archaic rules within Congress that aren’t conducive to working mothers like her. She says, “I'm even being told right now that I can't technically take maternity leave because if I take maternity leave, then I won't be allowed to sponsor legislation or vote during that time period.”


Duckworth ran into some challenges when she welcomed her first daughter, Abigail, when she was serving in the House of Representatives—but the question of maternity leave had been sorted thanks to congresswomen before her who gave birth during their terms. (Her current plan is to take leave, but show up for any significant votes.)

Now in the Senate and expecting another child in April, Duckworth’s more dedicated than ever to changing conditions for working moms.

First on her list: Dealing with the rule that prohibits children from 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?” she says. “I can't leave her with a staff member. That's a conflict of interest, so am I allowed to vote? Can I not do my job?”

These questions have already been posed in governments (and workplaces) around the world—and solutions are possible.

Take, for example, Australia, where senators recently voted to change the rule that barred infants from the chambers of Parliament. After helping lead that charge, that enabled Queensland Senator Larissa Waters to be the first to breastfeed in the chambers.

Or look at New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is currently expecting her first child and making sure plans are in place that will allow her to take maternity leave.

In the United States, the good news, Duckworth says, is that she seems to have a lot of support. “I think we've all been hungering for something non-partisan,” she says, explaining her pregnancy news seemed to be unifying. She adds she hopes her influence will make it so “legislators behind me can continue to do their jobs but also look after their families."

Although she’s just talking about changing the rules within Congress at this point, Duckworth is an advocate for many more maternal rights.

As she says in an editorial for CNN, where she outlines the legislation on the table that will improve the lives of parents:

Over the past few months, I’ve been reflecting about how those of us who are members of Congress are lucky. When my new daughter is born, I’ll be able to take paid time to care for her, but most people aren’t so fortunate; they have to rush right back to work. A 2015 report from In These Times found that one in four employed moms returned to work within two weeks of childbirth. We need to do what we can to change that and make it easier for new parents to stay in the workforce.

This all proves that when we have more mothers in power, more mothers can be empowered.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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There are major health benefits when baby looks just like dad, says study

They had fewer emergency room visits and were less likely to suffer from asthma + illness, according to findings.

We’re the ones who carry them for nine months, so it can be a bit of shock when a baby is born looking nothing like us. It might even feel a bit unfair, but don’t take it too hard, mama. Science proves looking like dad has some big benefits for babies.

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