Being pregnant is an occupational hazard of being a wife. ~ Queen Victoria
Dear Kate (can I call you Kate? It’s so much friendlier than Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge),
How are you holding up? I know, pregnancy sucks, even without hyperemesis gravidarum, which in layman terms means, “Oh holy shit, this is AWFUL.” You can’t keep any food down, you feel bloated and don’t fit into your favorite clothes. And the worst? You are getting unsolicited advice from EVERYONE. I mean, seriously, you’ve got paparazzi following you around, ‘journalists’ analyzing your every move, strangers sending letters to tell you what to eat and how to raise your baby. And (let’s be honest here), you’ve got a grandmother-in-law that you REALLY don’t want to piss off by puking on her shoes.
So basically, your pregnancy is exactly like everybody else’s. It differs in the details, and in the degree of interest that it generates in strangers (though not by as much as you think — more on that later), but overall, you’re feeling very much like every other woman pregnant with her first child.
This is a letter of solidarity. This is a blogger issuing unsolicited advice to a stranger; but you know, I do it out of love. I was at your wedding, after all. Which is to say, I hauled my almost-nine-months-pregnant bulk to the living room at six in the morning so that I could cry over how beautiful you looked, cry over how handsome your prince was, cry over the hilariously silly hats, and generally remind myself that true love wins in the end. I went through a lot of tissues that morning.
Plus, you know, we have a lot in common. We both have supportive and loving husbands to shore us up during the hard times. We both have unbelievably fantastic hair (well, mine would be if I ever had the time to wash it). And we both look really good in indigo. Plus, there’s the whole Kate/Kathy thing. So that’s enough to be going on with, I think.
Now, here’s how I picture your life right now. Yeah, you have royal obligations, and you meet them with an admirable degree of grace. But I’m also picturing you spending more time than you’d really like to lying in bed, feeling unwell, wearing oversized sweats and a graphic tee shirt from some event you attended in college, surfing the internet for reassurance and distraction. Reassurance that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do, and distraction from the unpleasantness of it all.
You’re also probably spending a great deal of time dreaming, fantasizing, about the beautiful baby that you will have when this is all over. Will it be a boy or a girl? Have blonde hair, brown, or maybe even red? Will he have your dimples? Will she have Wills’ smile?
And there’s also the scarier kind of fantasizing. What kind of mom will you be? Will you be able to counteract the scary things in your world — being constantly in the public eye, so much pressure to be a certain way — and raise your child to be a good, healthy, functional person?
Believe it or not, I’ve been there. All women who have children have been. Being visibly pregnant is to be a little bit of a rock star, even for those of us who live in relative anonymity. Strangers stop you on the street, chide you for eating/drinking/doing whatever it is that you’re in the middle of right then. They want to touch your stomach, they insist on hearing personal details of your health and pregnancy. And all the while, you’re walking the line between excitement and terror.
So here’s some unsolicited advice from a semi-anonymous blogger in America. You’ll probably never even see it. But I like to think that you will.
Trust yourself. You are the final word when it comes to your child. If something feels wrong to you, even if it’s something that you’re being told to do by a doctor or someone else that you respect, get a second opinion. Or a third. You know your own body, and ultimately that of your child, better than anybody else does.
Trust yourself. You don’t want your kid to grow up a spoiled, obnoxious royal? Set limits that feel right to you. All your baby really needs are warm arms to snuggle in, a safe place to sleep, and your voice singing softly. Prada booties are only necessary if they make YOU really happy.
Trust yourself. You chose this life, but you don’t have to buy into all the trappings. Raise your child in a way that feels right to you, including or discounting tradition as seems best to you. Your relationship with your child is the most important thing, not pictures taken in Edward VI’s moldy old christening gown.
Trust your husband. Seriously. That dude loves the living daylights out of you, and he’s going to be a wonderful father. Trust him to take care of both of you. Royal or not, you three are a family.
Trust yourself. It’s not advice that I always take for myself, but it’s advice that every new mom needs to hear.
Believe it or not, there’s a largely silent sector of the public who, when we heard that you were pregnant, smiled and quietly congratulated you in our heads. We’re the ones who, when we heard of the difficulties you’ve had, quietly sent prayers and positive vibes to you to help you get through. We’re not devoting energy to speculation about gender/names/designer baby gear. We’re just seeing in you another woman who is expecting her first child. We, which is to say I, empathize.
Love to you,
PS: This gleeful toddler smile came as a result of me saying, “Sausage! Smile for Kate Middleton!” So, you know. Eyes on the prize.