Pregnancy is one of those things only a woman can go through. Men may experience sympathy pains and gain sympathy weight, but ladies are the only ones privy to the ecstasy and the agony of carrying and giving birth to a baby. It's an experience that men can never fully understand.
Having a bun in the oven is harder for some than for others, but every woman will experience challenges and triumphs along the road to meeting her new little bundle of joy. Gone are the days when a woman's primary responsibility in life was to bear and care for the children. Women still do both of these things wonderfully, but now, many members of the fairer sex are making sure not to miss out on any amazing life opportunities just because they happen to be expecting a new addition.
Babies are often an integral part of a full life, but their arrivals no longer mean Mom must throw in the towel when it comes to living her dreams. Women can do it all and have it all; the incredible women on the list below prove it.
The true stories that follow contain some mamas who were totally badass during their pregnancies, but, let's be honest, who isn't? They are an inspiration to us all, and remind all mothers and mothers-to-be to keep reaching to accomplish their goals, even as precious babies grow inside of them. The following 15 ladies prove that motherhood does not signify an end to accomplishing lofty goals, but is, instead, yet another beautiful beginning.
15 Olympic Contender
Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi competed in the Winter Olympic Games in London when she was 8 months pregnant. While she isn't the first to compete in the Olympics while expecting, she did set the record for being the furthest along during competition for the gold.
Shooting, Nur Suryani's sport of choice, is less strenuous than some other Olympic activities, but even one millimeter can make a difference. Nur Suryani joked before the games that she worried her daughter would kick right when she pulled the trigger, causing her to misfire. She said, "I will talk to her, say, ‘Mum is going to shoot just for a while. Can you just be calm?”’
Nur Suryani found out she was expecting just two days before qualifying for the Olympics, and never looked back. It was never an option for her to consider not competing. She explained, “For me nothing is impossible. It’s one of the challenges. If I abandoned it, maybe who knows? Another four years to wait, maybe I don’t have the opportunity.”
Nur Suryani also shared that she will one day tell her daughter, “You are very lucky, you’re not born yet and you already went to the Olympics.”
14 Marathon Mama
Amber Miller is an avid runner who signed up to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon before discovering she was pregnant. She ran throughout her pregnancy, and, although the race was just days before her due date, she decided to give it a go. Miller didn't have plans to actually finish the race, and shared of her experience, "I was having a conversation with my parents and said, 'You know what? I have no plans of actually finishing.' I was planning on running half, skipping to the end, then walking across the finish line." Sometimes, plans change.
She and her husband ran for the first half of the race, but when Amber started having contractions, they slowed their pace to a walk. It took the expecting parents 6.5 hours to complete the race. After crossing the finish line, they got some food for Amber and headed to the hospital to have their baby.
Amber gave birth to her daughter, June, at 10:29 p.m. on a Sunday evening, mere hours after she had completed the 26.2 mile race. Talk about a busy weekend.
13 Congress Member
Cathy McMorris Rodgers gave birth to not one, but two, little ones while serving as a member of Congress. Her first son, Cole was born in 2007, making McMorris Rodgers the 5th woman to give birth while also a member of Congress.
In 2010, Republican House member McMorris Rodgers shared an announcement on her Facebook page. It read:
"There are no words to describe how excited we are that our family continues to grow ... Please know, of course, that I take my duties as your Representative very seriously, and I will continue to work my heart out on behalf of Eastern Washington."
She also tweeted the following sweet statement, letting the nation know she was yet again expecting: "Brian and I are excited to announce we're expecting; Cole will have a baby sister for Christmas."
McMorris Rodgers proves that women can pursue their career goals, no matter how lofty, while also having children and raising a family.
12 Line Of Duty Beauty
Kayla Donelly, a soldier in the British army, was on leave from a tour in Afghanistan when she unexpectedly collapsed by a swimming pool due to cramping, and gave birth. She had absolutely no idea she was pregnant. The arrival of her baby came as a complete shock to Kayla, who figured she had just been gaining weight due to the high calorie army rations she'd been consuming.
Her baby boy, Josh McMillan arrived just two weeks after she returned from duty. Army rules stipulate that any woman serving on the frontline will be immediately relieved from duty if it is discovered that she is expecting. It is believed that Kayla was further along in her pregnancy than any other soldier who has ever been stationed in Afghanistan.
Concerning this unusual situation, the baby's grandmother shared, "We’re all so very proud of them. I guess it’s very unusual for a woman to be pregnant on the front line. We’ll have a great story to tell my grandson when he grows up."
11 Pregnant Posers
Kourntey and Kim Kardashian are just two of many women who have opted to pose for sexy photos while expecting. The body of a pregnant women contorts and stretches to accommodate the little one growing inside. Beautiful photographs of this miraculous process are helping to empower pregnant women and remind the world how beautiful women are in every stage of life.
Other celebrities who have posed for the camera while great with child include Demi Moore, Britney Spears, Cindy Crawford, Alicia Keys, Claudia Schiffer and Christina Aguilera.
Showing the world that pregnancy is sexy is a pretty badass move, and the craze is catching on world-wide. More and more women without celebrity clout are boldly and brazenly capturing the essence of pregnancy in photo-shoots where they bare it all to the camera before giving birth. This empowering trend is just what is needed to end the taboo that often surrounds pregnancy.
10 Age Is Only A Number
Daljinder Kaur gave birth at approximately 70 years of age after she and her husband, 79, underwent two years of infertility treatments. The couple, who have been married for 46 years, did not have any previous children. They are thrilled with their new arrival, and feel their life together is complete now that they have their little one.
While Kaur is not certain of her age, if she is 70 or older, she is the second-known woman to have a baby so late in life. Another woman in India gave birth at the age of 70 in 2006. In fact, fertility treatments are not widely regulated in India and are affordable, meaning women in this country who are considered well past their child-bearing years may be having babies in the future.
The doctor who helped Kaur conceive insists it is completely safe to give birth after menopause, despite many claims to the contrary. These parents may be unconventional, but they love their baby, and, in the end, that's all that really matters.
9 War Reporter
Elizabeth Rubin is a journalist who joined with US forces as an embedded correspondent, while also four months pregnant. Rubin kept her pregnancy a secret from many she was working with to avoid being treated differently. She suffered many obstacles and discomforts, but is another example of a woman brave enough to stand up and say that pregnancy is a time of celebration, not necessarily a time to say goodbye to every part of what makes her who she is.
She shared the feelings she experienced when seeing her baby on a sonogram in a piece she wrote for The Guardian, "I turned my head to the sonogram screen, and there was what I'd come for: a small black-and-white static, pulsing. It was her heart. Then I saw her hand in her mouth, and that was it."
Later in the same article, Rubin wrote,"Whenever she stopped hiccuping or kicking inside, I missed her. The next question was simply how I'd ever get on a plane again and go to Afghanistan without her." While life after having a baby is far from over, it is changed forever.
8 Rock Climber
Physical therapist, Amy Roseboro is yet another woman who refused to allow her pregnancy to slow her down. She's a talented rock climber who loves to complete extreme climbs at Joshua Tree National Park. Her baby was lucky enough to experience Mom's love of climbing while still on the inside. Roseboro scaled rocks like a pro up into her eight month of pregnancy.
Roseboro shared the fact that climbing with a baby bump was, in a way, an escape from the discomforts of pregnancy. She said, "I do kind of get to forget that I'm so huge and, at times, uncomfortable."
Being active during pregnancy means different things to different people. It's important to remember that those who choose to participate in extreme activities during their pregnancies were experienced before baby took up shop in their bellies. Pursuing a passion one had before pregnancy is admirable, but starting up a new hobby that has the potential to be dangerous while expecting may not be the best idea.
7 Fitness Feat
The Australian hot mama pictured above didn't allow being pregnant with twins to hinder her fitness goals. She lifted weights on a daily basis up until she was 34 weeks along, and gave birth to two healthy and happy babies in September of 2015.
Fit pregnancies are a trend currently catching on in many communities. Many women participate in weight lifting and CrossFit well into their third trimesters, and claim these activities assist them in having successful deliveries and easier recoveries following the arrivals of their babies.
Recent recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that exercise during pregancy does much more good than harm, and even strenuous exercise is fine as long as a pregnant woman is able to carry on a conversation. According to Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, "You have to be able to breathe. If you're not getting oxygen, the baby is not getting oxygen."
6 Sensational Swimmer
Regan Schreiber didn't allow a growing belly to hold her back in any way, shape or form. In 2001, she swam the English Channel, a thirty mile distance, while 11 weeks pregnant. The feat took Schreiber 9 hours and 30 minutes. No biggie.
Some may argue that this type of strenuous activity is a little much for an expectant mother. Medical professionals are mixed on the subject, and can be vague when discussing exercise during pregnancy. They may tell a woman to "listen to her body" or "avoid over-exertion." These statements aren't very concrete, and may mean different things to different people.
According to Dr. Mona Shangold, the director of the Center for Women’s Health and Sports Gynecology in Philadelphia, "The problem is that we don’t know yet what the safe limit is. We are probably more conservative than we need to be.”
The fact remains that Schreiber accomplished what she set out to do, and she and her baby were just fine. The best way to approach this subject may be to allow each pregnant woman to decide for herself exactly what she does and doesn't want to do while expecting.
5 Heavy Duty
A woman in Indonesia recently gave birth to a baby that weighed a whopping 19.2 pounds and measured over 2 feet long. It is believed the mother had gestational diabetes, which, if untreated, can result in big babies. This brave soul named her new addition Akbar, which means "big." The boy arrived via Cesarean section and is healthy despite his enormous size.
Hundreds of visitors came to the hospital to catch a glimpse of, er, little-ish Akbar. The village he was born into considers him a blessing. It has been reported that this big boy has been nursing 'round the clock and his mother is concerned she won't be able to make enough milk to keep him satisfied.
While Akbar is certainly large and in charge, he is not the heaviest baby to ever be born. The world record for the biggest baby goes to an infant born in Italy in 1955 who weighed 22.5 pounds at birth. Oh, mama. Anyone who carries a baby even close to as big as these boys is most definitely a badass.
4 Magazine Editor
Anna Wintour is the cut-throat editor-in-chief of US Vogue who didn't stop working during either of her pregnancies. Co-workers have shared that she wore Chanel miniskirt suits while also rocking a baby bump.
She worked editing British Vogue and Home & Garden while expecting, and didn't allow her career to stumble in any way just because she became a mom. The ruthless editor-in-chief in the book and subsequent movie, The Devil Wears Prada--played flawlessly by Meryl Streep--was reportedly based on Wintour.
Maybe Wintour is terrifying to her assistants, but she's also totally fabulous. Being feared isn't the worst thing in the world. After all, this fashion queen rules the roost when it comes to deciding what's hot and what's not. Her signature bob and passion for fashion have helped make her what she is today: a mom who has accomplished her goals and aspirations.
3 Weight Lifter
Elizabeth Poblete, an Olympic weight-lifter, gave birth to a baby in the midst of a training session. She was not aware she was pregnant, and the baby arrived after Poblete claimed she wasn't feeling well. He was three months premature, and rushed to the hospital after his arrival. The infant weighed only 2.54 pounds and measured just 14 inches in length.
Horacio Rees, a trainer at the gym where Poblete gave birth, told the media, "A week ago I acted as a judge in a competition in Chile and this girl was competing. All went well and she won the competition."
Elizabeth came in 12th in her category in the Beijing Olympics. While she wasn't aware she was expecting while she trained tirelessly to achieve her goals, day in and day out, she's amazing because she's a mother. The weight of loving a child may be the heaviest and most wonderful of anything Poblete has ever balanced on her shoulders.
2 High Flyer
Stephanie Wallach was one of the first 10 females to become a commercial pilot. She was the first woman to fly a Boeing 727 passenger jet, and was one of the founding members of the the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.
Wallach discovered she was expecting in 1982, just three days after Braniff, the airline she was flying for, had gone out of business. Back then, airlines would not allow women to operate aircraft while pregnant. The rules have since changed, and the FAA currently allows female pilots who are expecting to continue flying well into their pregnancies.
After her son was born, Stephanie sought out another job as a pilot. She recently retired at the age of 60 and became the first female pilot in Alaska to reach the Federal Aviation Administration-mandated retirement age. She's a high-flying example of a woman who doesn't let anything stand in her way.
1 Crime Fighter
Many female police officers are transferred to what is known as "light duty" when their impending arrival is revealed. Others have been forced to take unpaid leave, or been fired as a result of their pregnancies.
A pregnant female police officer in Argentina didn't allow anything to slow her down. In 2011, she was shot in the hand while in the line of duty. After being taken to a hospital, the mom-to-be was treated and walked away from the injury mostly unscathed.
All pregnant women battle stereotypes, prejudices and unfair assumptions. Expecting a baby is a blessing that should never be viewed as a hinderance. Yes, pregnancy does bring with it a few challenges, and sometimes changes the way in which a woman lives her life, but it doesn't have to mean the end of a life full of adventure and opportunities. Moms should feel free to live life to the fullest, and bring their babies along for the ride.