Let’s be honest, we all love a royal baby. How could we not with faces like these?
I, like Kate, am the proud mother of two small children. While Kate and I obviously lead extremely different lives (the understatement of the century, perhaps) I know that we as mothers have two things in common. The first is, like any mother, that we want the absolute very best for our children. Whether it’s a life growing up out of the public spotlight for George and Charlotte, or access to the best schools available for my children, we both ultimately want to ensure our children are as happy and as healthy as we can humanly possibly control.
The second thing we have in common is something many other mothers will recognize – the eternal, unending barrage of queries about when the next child will be coming to the family. While the occupancy rate of my uterus does not warrant international headlines (unless you count the emails between family members on both side of the Atlantic), I am constantly amazed at the brashness of the questions that people ask about when the next bundle of joy will be arriving. In Kate’s case, it’s not just well-intentioned if off-putting comments from friends and relatives. Complete strangers speculate based on any number of factors about the possibility of a pregnancy for the Duchess of Cambridge. Minor details like “OMG, did you see how she had her hands over her stomach during an engagement?” are transformed to be “BABY ON THE WAY” headlines faster than I can type.
With speculation ramping up about Kate possibly expecting another baby – and many people (myself included) are hoping it happens for her if she wants it to – there is something that many people don’t always think about when considering the constant questions about when the next one is coming. As well-intentioned as the thought may be, very few people stop to think about how this type of question might make a woman feel. A subtle question about a possible pregnancy can be painful to a woman going through the trials of infertility. A whisper about a possible baby bump can be discouraging to a woman’s self-esteem. A comment about how a woman should have more children can be torture on a woman who has experienced a loss.
I say this as someone who knows. As someone who, after one cute little kid, was flooded with questions – including from maternity ward nurses as I left the delivery room with my first child hours old in my arms – about when I was having another. Someone who laughed it off, who said the timing wasn’t quite right, who learned to steer the question to another topic when the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it. I say this as someone who has had two miscarriages in the last three years.
Think back to the announcement that Zara Tindall had suffered a miscarriage right before Christmas. My heart broke for her. It broke for her and her family, obviously excited about a new family member, but it also broke because she had to go through a difficult time in the public eye. While I don’t know Zara, I can guess that she probably released the information of her pregnancy publicly when she felt pressured to. Perhaps she had accidentally made a comment about a baby in front of Mia who told her friends at school (kids are terrible secret keepers) and wanted to jump out in front of the news. Perhaps she had had to make the announcement given her inability to ride her horses due to medical advice. We could speculate forever. But it served as an excellent reminder that miscarriages can happen to anyone, no matter who you are or where you are. They just do. And not everyone is as brave – or as required – as Zara to share her grief publicly.
While I hated the questions about the future of my family because I had not shared my losses with anyone, I’m sure Kate hates the question as well because she’s a private person. She’ll let us all know when she is ready to – or necessitated to as she had to be with Prince George’s pregnancy. Speculating about if it’s a baby, a large bowl of pasta or just an ill-fitting dress are perhaps fun pastimes, but if Kate herself was reading the comments online as I have about her near-constantly rumoured pregnancies, I imagine they would hurt. While I sincerely hope that the Duchess has not experienced a loss, do we know that? Maybe that’s why she didn’t work as many days as people seem to want her to have in 2016. Maybe she’s desperately trying to get pregnant again and is finding herself unable. Does she read stories about her possible pregnancy and question her looks? I’m sure that even the beautiful, confident Duchess we see in public is prone to moments of self-doubt in private. Before I had children, I was asked once by an older male colleague why I hadn’t told him I was pregnant as he offered me a public congratulations. Suffice it to say that I took that top home, burned it, and felt bad about myself for much longer than I should have for an offhand comment.
So while we can all cross our fingers about the theoretical possibility of a new royal baby in the future, I’m hoping that people will perhaps read this and try to not speculate on something that no one outside of the royal circle (or royal gynaecological offices) would know. We never know what is happening behind closed doors – even spectacularly regal ones.
And if the Cambridges do decide to have another baby, and when they’re ready to share the news with the world, I’ll be amongst the people happiest to hear the news.