State Sen. Brittany Pettersen delivered a baby boy, Davis James, on Sunday, Jan. 19. She is only the second lawmaker known to have given birth during session. Prior to the birth, the Lakewood Democrat had told CPR she intends to take about a month of maternity leave before returning to the Capitol.
“I plan on bringing my newborn with me to work once I make it through some time at home. Of course, he's not going to be able to stay with me for long nights when we sometimes go into the morning,” Pettersen said. “I'm very lucky that my husband has paternity leave and so he'll be able to come to the Capitol as well and help support me.”
Pettersen’s husband, Ian Silverii, heads the political nonprofit ProgressNow Colorado and plans to take three months off of work.
While Pettersen is away from the Capitol, Democrats will have a slimmer majority in the state Senate and will need to stay unified as a caucus to pass any legislation without Republican support.
Senate President Leroy Garcia said he looks forward to trying to make it a smooth transition for Pettersen when she returns.
“The rules allow for children (on the Senate floor),” Garcia said. “We are going to do absolutely all we can to help make sure Sen. Pettersen is accommodated here. And you know, I say that as a father of two boys. As I remind my colleagues, it's not like I'm removed from being a family man.”
Women hold the majority in the state Senate’s Democratic caucus. And Colorado’s House of Representatives is one of only two legislative chambers in the country where female lawmakers hold a majority. Overall, women make up nearly half of the state’s 100 lawmakers. Last year, for the third time in a row, the House elected a female Speaker in KC Becker.
As their ranks have increased, the Capitol has slowly become more friendly to new mothers. Last year even saw the opening of the building’s first lactation room.
By giving birth during the legislative session, Pettersen is in an extremely unusual situation. But a number of state lawmakers have had babies while in office. Majority Leader Steve Fenberg’s daughter was born just before the 2020 legislative session started. And last year, Democratic state Rep. Kyle Mullica was sworn into office when his daughter was only two days old.
Editor Note: This story and its headline have been corrected. They incorrectly stated that Pettersen is the first state lawmaker to ever give birth during session.