Yesterday I read a really thoughtful piece (comments not withstanding) on Kate Middleton’s pregnancy from Lisa Belkin, who happens to be the queen of thoughtful pieces. It’s called What Kate Middleton Lost When Her Pregnancy Was Announced. (Cleverly optimized for SEO and clicks by editors with the permalink: “Kate_Middleton_Secret_Pregnancy.”)
The gist can be summed up in the opening sentence: The space between the moment you learn you are pregnant and the one when you reveal that to the wider world is the most intimate time in a woman’s life. And her main point was one I had never considered–that forget the tiara, the title, the ring, the notoriety, whomever you are, as a first-time mom-to-be especially, there’s something magical about that brief period of “just between you and me.” And now it’s gone for her.
It’s not sad like sick children sad, but still, I sympathize.
Indeed, we live in a world where the moment your pregnancy is public, you are the target for criticism, commentary, and advice both wanted and unwanted, on anything and everything, from the people you know and the people you don’t. I still remember comments on my weight, my skin, what I was eating, what I wasn’t eating, what I shampooed with, what kind of pillow I was sleeping with. I remember the barista (before Starbucks retrained all of them to the peak of awesomeness) who questioned my grande coffee order–which happened to be for Nate. The raised eyebrows when I ordered a glass of Pinot 41 weeks into my second pregnancy. The concern from some friends when I went to a concert with loud music.
(Oh noes! Not the loud music!)
Next, the commentary moves onto baby names–yours is too Brooklyn, too midwestern, too celebrity wannabe, too popular, too pretentious, too strange. It’s too hard to pronounce, too lacking in meaning, too old-fashioned, too much like a dog’s name, too hard to find on a pre-printed license plate key chain in the Orlando airport gift shop one day.
And wait, didn’t your cousin’s best friend’s sister already give her kid that name? Come on, you should really pick another. That’s not even cool.
Of course once the baby is here, we all know how much your personal decisions are of EXTREME IMPORTANCE to everyone in the world. Why, if you don’t exclusively breastfeed for some determined length of time, surely you are dooming your child to failure. If you sleep train you’re ruining the world as we know it. If you co-sleep you’re a damn dirty hippie. Maybe even communist. Buying baby food instead of pureeing it all yourself from organic peaches grown in your own yard? Slacker. And don’t even get me started on watching Sesame Street a single day before the second birthday comes along.
(BUT BUT…THE AAP SAYS…oh, forget it.)
If you go back to work then someone else is raising your kid. If you go back to work but can afford not to, you’re selfish and horrible. If you don’t go back to work you’re wasting your education. And aren’t you aware that every daycare provider, nanny, and preschool teacher that ever walked the planet is a secret felon? It’s on the internet, I swear.
Then one day–although it will take a few years–it slows down. Around that time, you will also realize that none of that judgment matters. Not even a single lick.
And this is all just regular old us. Regular moms living our regular lives, without 18 long-lens cameras hidden in the bushes across the street waiting to stake out our every move. The entire world is not actually judging our pregnancies and motherhood the way it will judge Her Royal Highness Princess William Arthur Phillip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus.; it just feels that way.
So when I start seeing articles from otherwise respectable magazines asking “Is Kate too skinny?” “Will Kate be a good mom?” “Will Kate have a miscarriage?” “Did Kate get pregnant too soon?” I want to scream.
I’m not playing the game, media. I’m not clicking to your articles, I’m not giving you page views, and I’m not going to judge her the way people on the street judged me. I’m just going to sit here and wish her well and hope that another healthy baby is born to another loving mother, because the world needs all of those that we can get.
But mostly, I’m not going to give her pregnancy advice unless she asks me personally. Mother to future mother, it’s the least I can do for her.