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Send the Breast Pump With the Defense Attaché

I held the syringe up to the light above the bathroom mirror and flicked it a few times with my finger to make sure I had the exact dose of Lupron. I checked my watch to calculate the time in Washington. I pulled the waistline of my pants below my belly button, steadied my feet, wiped my abdomen with an alcohol swab and took a deep breath.

As I pulled my arm back to thrust the syringe into my belly, the plane hit turbulence, nearly causing me to plunge the needle into my left arm. I waited for the plane to stabilize and repeated the steps, this time managing to inject myself with the drugs that I hoped would lead to my becoming pregnant. I packed my supplies and walked casually back into the main cabin of the 10-seat Gulfstream that was taking me and my boss, the under secretary of defense for policy, to Afghanistan.

That moment in my two-year journey to having my first son in 2010 came to mind recently during a visit to the University of Texas, Austin. “It is so inspiring to see a woman up on that stage talking about national security,” one young woman said after my talk. Another asked how she could become someone like me.

Moments like those always leave me with mixed emotions. Yes, I am proud of the years I spent working on security issues at senior levels of government. But I never mention the trials and tribulations of trying — often desperately — to have children in your 40s. Nor do I talk about the days and nights that I missed with my first son while I worked at the White House and the Pentagon.

Read the full article in The New York Times.

Julianne Smith
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Women in National Security

Women in National Security | Center for a New American Security