Miriam Donohoe: Having a baby is no barrier to Lucinda's ambitions
So Lucinda Creighton is going to be a busy woman in 2014. Not only is the outspoken, feisty, 33-year-old Fine Gael TD considering giving birth to a new political party, but yesterday she confirmed she is also expecting her first baby next year.
This is joyous news for Lucinda and her husband, Fine Gael senator Paul Bradford. They are facing into the wonders of parenthood and all the happiness, challenges, worries and fulfilment that it will bring.
The pregnancy comes at a time when Lucinda is very much in the public eye and regarded as a political femme fatal. She is a talented and brave young politician who has the courage of her convictions. She and her husband lost the Fine Gael party whip in July for refusing to support the Coalition's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. They are very much outcasts in Fine Gael. It is highly doubtful that if it's a boy they will be calling the baby Enda.
But the couple's political challenges won't appear so important to them at the moment as they get their heads around the fact that they are going to become parents.
The next six months or so will be a very special time for Lucinda, who, like any other first-time expectant and working mother, will experience the highs and lows of pregnancy. The morning sickness, the elation, the tiredness, losing her waistline, worrying about childcare after the birth, the preparation, and in the last few weeks the trepidation and excitement.
Lucinda and Paul are a political pair who married in a low-key ceremony in April 2011 at the Trinity Chapel in Trinity College. They didn't want a "hoo-hah" and only 20 guests attended their wedding.
Afterwards, Lucinda said they wanted their wedding to be private and personal without loads of people who didn't know them well. Not for them a "political" wedding with guests that might be of use to them in their careers. They did their own thing.
The couple probably didn't want a "hoo-hah" about the pregnancy either but Lucinda is media savvy and nipped speculation in the bud as to whether she "is or isn't" by confirming the news to the 'Sunday Independent'.
She was right not to say exactly when the baby is due. She doesn't need the eyes of the country on her around the due date.
Predictably, the begrudgers were out when the news broke yesterday. One friend commented: "Ah, that will be the end of her now. A baby will shut her up."
There were sarky and inaccurate comments online, too.
"Great for her as she will be able to access the new perk of nine months' fully paid maternity leave for the husband as well that is being introduced for all politicians under the guise of EU employment law," was one.
Another said: "Wonderful news, because looking after the baby is likely to keep her out of the limelight and spare us her idiotic views for some months at least."
Well, I have news for you – just because Lucinda is having a baby does not necessarily mean she will be stepping out of the limelight or politics. This does not have to be a barrier to her political ambitions at all.
Lucinda is an impressive operator. She has made her way amid the flotsam of middle-aged, largely male politicians, and she is a breath of fresh air, outspoken and not afraid to speak her mind.
In an interview in 'Hot Press' in 2010, she said she didn't brand herself as a feminist. "I don't feel the need . . . I don't think that tag of 'feminism' is relevant anymore."
And so right she is.
Lucinda is still a very young woman, she can make the choice that many women make. To continue working when the baby is born, or to step back for a while and come back to her career later on. If she does take this option, which I very much doubt, it should not be seen as a shame or letting herself down.
A former Laois-Offaly Fine Gael TD, Olwyn Enright, did not contest the last general election because she had a very young family. Married to Donegal North-East Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh, she was very open in saying she would not be in a position to give the required commitment as an elected representative. That was her choice. More power to her.
Former Fianna Fail minister and mother-of-two, 48-year-old Mary Coughlan, said last week she was considering re-entering politics after failing to get re-elected last time out. She lost her husband to cancer in September 2012 and her children are now in their mid-teens. Love or hate her politics, she has a lot of experience to offer.
I wish you well, Lucinda. In truth, you don't really know what is ahead of you. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood until you experience it yourself. But being a mother won't detract from your talents and skills as a politician.