SEATTLE — Editor's note: Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda gave birth to her first child, Camila Elena Valdes-Mosqueda on October 9. Baby Camila is happy and healthy.
It's believed to be a first in Seattle City Council history -- it's also a "first" that two councilmembers will be experiencing at the same time.
City councilors-at-large Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González are both first-time mothers experiencing pregnancy while in office.
“It brings me a lot of joy to have this experience in the first place, but more importantly to be a model for young women and other women who are thinking about maybe having a family and also being in public service and wondering if the two things are compatible," González said.
The two have been advocates for women's rights, family rights, breastfeeding and pregnancy accommodations at the workplace long before either of them became pregnant.
Mosqueda said someone doesn't need to be pregnant or have a family to care about these issues, but having experienced pregnancy herself, it helps her better understand working mothers and the needs they have.
"We know anecdotally that we are in a childcare desert here in Seattle. We also know from the data that the number of children now in the city are at record-high levels compared to recent years and we’re now experiencing what it’s like to try to find affordable, accessible, bilingual childcare. For us to be in the situation of currently looking for childcare and comparing that to the stories and policy that we’ve worked on -- we’re living it out," Mosqueda said.
Both Mosqueda and González are on a waitlist for childcare. Mosqueda has been on a waitlist for two years.
On Sept. 30, Seattle City Council approved a measure introduced by Mosqueda that will allow city employees in certain scenarios to bring their infants to work for a few months.
Mosqueda also sponsored a budget amendment last year adding $100,000 to help open a downtown childcare center mostly for the city’s employees.
King County has a childcare center in a building located just blocks away from Seattle City Hall.
While Mosqueda and González said they are both proud of the women and family issues that they have fought for, they realize there is still a lot the city can do for new mothers.
“In spite of all of the good work we’ve been able to do in solidarity with advocates on the outside, we still have a long way to go. We want to be a more family-friendly place. If you need to bring your child to work or want to bring your child to work, that should be an option for you," González said.
González pointed out that new moms do not have adequate space for breastfeeding at City Hall. Women pump in the bowels of the building in a large storage room near an elevator. It's loud and smells like machinery, the councilwomen said.
"What does the city value? Right now, if you go downstairs and look at the space we've been looking at, it appears we value storing old chairs and desks rather than caring for kiddos," Mosqueda said. "We're using empty space on this public land to use as storage that could be put to much better use."
Both city councilwomen said they would like to see pumping stations in the city like the ones at the Sea-Tac International Airport.
Sea-Tac started off with private pods located throughout the airport for designated breastfeeding. Since then, they have upgraded to spa-like rooms for breastfeeding in the North Satellite.
González said she hopes their dual experience of pregnancy while serving on city council is an example of the fact that a woman can have and do both things.
"In fact, we need you to do both things because of the different perspectives that this experience allows us to bring into this very power establish of government," she said.
“We want to be the first in many ways, but we don't want to be the last. We want to be the first to now show that it is possible to both start your family and show up for work and serve the public. We want more people in their 20s and 30s and 40s running for public office to change the dynamic. What we are bringing to this conversation is a true, representative democracy," Mosqueda said.