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Seattle has its first pregnant city councilmember

caption: Teresa Mosqueda, a Seattle city councilmember, is pregnant. Her daughter is due in October.
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Teresa Mosqueda, a Seattle city councilmember, is pregnant. Her daughter is due in October.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle city council member, is pregnant with her first child, a girl due in October.

“We were really excited when we found out we were pregnant,” said Mosqueda, 38. She is married to Manuel Valdes, a journalist for the Associated Press.

Mosqueda is believed to be the first sitting Seattle city councilmember to be pregnant.

“We've been trying for a little over a year and had some ups and downs,” Mosqueda said in an interview on Friday morning at her Queen Anne apartment.

“We had a miscarriage the year before," she said. "Having the opportunity to have a healthy baby and see not just the doctor's reaction to our test results, which were all great, but to see her kicking in the womb recently was really exciting.”

Mosqueda said she thought she would be mentally prepared to talk about that miscarriage, given that women have become more open about pregnancy loss, but, she said, “then it happens and you realize it's a lot more emotional preparation that was needed for that experience.”

A few months after she miscarried, she was pregnant again.

Mosqueda said she plans to take 12 weeks of maternity leave. She’s not too worried about away from work: “I’m one of six people in the office,” she said. “We’re going to have a high-functioning office that’s going to be able to respond to constituents.”

Being an elected official didn’t dissuade her from having children.

She said when women are encouraged to run for office, many say, "'well, now’s not the right time,' and we always say, ‘there’s never a perfect time,’” she said.

The same goes for having children, she said. "There’s never a perfect time, probably, to take a leave of absence from the office, and yet you need to do it.

"You need to step up and run for office, and if you’re going to have a kiddo, you also need to take that time to be home, to recover, to be with your family, to be with your newborn.”

She said she intends to take the full 12 weeks to set an example for others as the state's Family Leave Act takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. That law will, in broad strokes, provide Washingtonians with 12 weeks of paid leave.

Mosqueda, a driving force behind that law, will benefit from it. It expands the amount of leave available for Washington state workers, and after she returns to work, her husband will take over for 12 weeks.

Since the law allows parents to take 12 weeks of paid leave any time during the baby’s first year of life, Valdes won't lose out on pay. (Valdes, who was born and partly raised in Guatemala, plans to speak to the baby in Spanish.)

Mosqueda said that while she wants to focus on baby, she will return for budget votes, and she may call in.

“I intentionally sponsored an amendment to our city policies to make sure that someone had the ability to call in,” she said.

Mosqueda and her husband started telling people this week about her pregnancy. “It’s been a little hard to hide,” she said.

Other councilmembers have been supportive, she said. Friends, meanwhile, have warned her to get on daycare waitlists right away. But Mosqueda has taken a more ambitious approach, noting limited childcare in Seattle: She wants a childcare center at City Hall. She will walk through a space next week.

“It's one of the issues that I'm passionate about,” she said. “Being the youngest member of council and now having the opportunity to have a baby while serving the public really underscores that this is going to continue to be one top priority not just for me but the entire city.”

The breastfeeding room at City Hall may also get a venue change; right now it’s in the “bowels of the building,” she said.

Mosqueda noted other women who have been pregnant while in office: Jessyn Farrell had children while a Washington state representative; Tammy Duckworth in 2018 became the first sitting U.S. senator to have a baby; the prime minister of New Zealand had a baby while in office.

Produced for the web by Isolde Raftery.

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