Oh, Baby! Big News for Rep. Sanchez
Linda Sanchez has always stood out a bit in Congress.
The SoCal Democrat is by far the House's finest comedian -- sharing wacky tales of dating life on the charity stand-up circuit -- and, along with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, part of the body's first sister act.
Now, she's poised to become only the eighth congresswoman in history to have a baby while in office -- and the first to do so while single.
Sanchez, 39, announced in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that she's expecting her first child May 21. The father is her beau of a year and a half, Jim Sullivan, 43, a government affairs consultant from Connecticut. The pregnancy was planned and very much welcomed.
The two are "unofficially engaged," she says, and looking to buy a house. They will plan a wedding later -- but at her age, she says, planning a baby couldn't wait.
Let's just say it: Have times changed, or what! A decade or so ago, this might have been a political career-killer. In 1992, Dan Quayle used the "Murphy Brown" single-mom story line to kick off a public debate about family values. Today, we predict that Sanchez's story will mostly draw shrugs -- and warm congratulations.
"I did wonder how it would be received," Sanchez acknowledged. Then came the Bristol Palin story, which drew surprisingly little backlash, even from conservative voters. "We've evolved as a society so much. The reality of single working moms is such a powerful reality."
"I'm not a high school kid, it wasn't an accident, I'm financially stable, in a committed relationship," she told us. "All the reasons for worrying about bringing a child into the world don't exist here."
Sanchez, who is divorced, always wanted kids; at 38, she pondered doing it on her own. A year later, she was dating "Sully," as she calls him. At her annual exam this year, her doctor said, "If you're planning on doing this, I wouldn't wait." Her boyfriend, also divorced and the father of three young boys, agreed.
"Probably the second month in, I bought a basal body thermometer," which predicts the optimal time for conception. "I could never figure it out." The long-distance relationship also posed a challenge. In September, she got the good news. "I can't tell you how fortunate I feel we were to be able to do this naturally," without fertility treatments, she said.
They waited to announce, she said, not because of her reelection but to get past the high-risk first trimester. So far the reaction has been positive. Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who had a son in May, and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), due next month, have offered advice.
Might she be a married congressmom by the time the baby arrives? Probably not. Both she and Sully come from big families, and "I want the big wedding," she said, "That's going to take some time to plan."
The Reliable Source
November 21, 2008; 1:04 AM ET
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