Four amputee veterans experience baby boom together
Ten years ago, Melissa Stockwell was out for a routine patrol as a soldier in Iraq, when a roadside bomb hit her Humvee, causing her to lose her leg.
Stockwell was the first female to lose a limb in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Recovering alongside Stockwell at The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. were three other female amputees, all soldiers who lost a limb in either Iraq or Afghanistan. That group included Dawn Halfhacker and Danielle Green-Byrd.
Also in recovery was Captain Tammy Duckworth, now an Illinois Congresswoman. Duckworth had lost both her legs in Iraq when a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down by insurgents.
"By the time i woke up, my husband said, 'All four women who were amputees before you were here to tell us everything's gonna be fine,'" Duckworth said about waking up in the hospital.
In those moments, in that hospital, their sisterhood was born.
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A sisterhood that is taking on new meaning today, as four of them become mothers.
"I am so thrilled that I'm gonna be a mother here in just-- four months," Rep. Duckworth said to TODAY, in the first time the Illinois representative has talked about her pregnancy on camera.
"We went through many cycles of IUI and all the different varieties of IVF," Duckworth said. "Being in the job that I have, it was really hard to keep it, you know, very quiet."
Duckworth's baby girl is due in early December, right behind Stockwell's little boy, who is due in late November. Halfaker's son, Raice, is now 4 months old. And Green-Byrd welcomed her son Daniel just 10 days ago.
"We do share a special bond," Halfaker said. "And then being able to share sort of the war stories of motherhood or of pregnancy. That's kind of the new chapter, I think, for us."
And it's not just the timing that's amazing. Stockwell said she was concerned if her amputee status would have any impact on the pregnancy.
"Tammy and I being lower limb amputees, I wondered if it would be possible to have children and learned pretty quickly that you can still have children and provide," Stockwell said, "But I think we have to find yourself first."
"To think of where we've all come from and then ten years," Stockwell said. "Later we're all having children of our own, it's-- I think it's a phenomenal story, one of resilience"
For the group of women, it's a time to reflect on the incredible strength they all share.
"These women were there for me as the band of sisters when-- I went through the greatest pain, the greatest trauma in my life," Duckworth said. "And now we get to be together for the time of greatest joy."
Follow TODAY anchor Erica Hill on Twitter.