One thing Kate did we hope Meghan won’t
SEVEN hours. Nine hours. Not even a day. This is how long elapsed between when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to each of her three children, and when she appeared on the steps of the Lindo Wing looking perfectly coiffed and beaming with a swaddled newborn in her arms.
With news that Meghan Markle, a fellow Duchess and Windsor family newbie, is expecting her first child (due around April next year, set your calendars accordingly) there will be no end of speculation about how her first pregnancy will compare to her sister-in-law's.
Every voluminous frock and public appearance will be carefully assessed and judged. And while Kate's royal career has been seemingly effortless, barely putting an LK Bennett-clad foot wrong in her years with The Firm, there is one huge thing we want Megs to do differently now she's expecting.
Don't pretend it's all so easy.
Last week actor Keira Knightley published an impassioned, angry (and highly visceral) piece about the realities of pregnancy and birth. Knightley gave birth to her daughter Edie the day before Princess Charlotte arrived and she wrote of Kate: "She was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on. The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful, look stylish, don't show your battleground, Kate."
The Atonement star has a point. Of course, every woman's birth experience is different and Kate has, by all accounts, had three magnificently quick and easy deliveries.
However, her pregnancies have been far from plain sailing. For all three, she experienced hyperemesis gravidarum.
Having witnessed first-hand a colleague battling this particularly pernicious illness, I am gobsmacked how Kate ever made it out the door, let alone with a smile on her face and wearing some delightful Alexander McQueen coat dress.
Never once did her smile betray even an iota of the extreme nausea and fatigue she was experiencing and I find that really sad. That she chose, or was forced, to gloss over how much she was suffering breaks my heart a bit.
Similarly, Kate's ultra speedy post-partum appearances have been presented in awe and wonder, as if she is some sort of maternal superwoman.
But no matter how regal a mum might be, the realities of pregnancy and birth are exactly the same in all their painful, gory glory.
Any hint of reality was shoved aside for the perfect photo op. Poor woman.
The Windsors might not be known for sharing their feelings (except about dogs, horses and Fergie) but Kate, William and Harry have forcefully ushered in some semblance of regime change, with the boys opening up about their grief over their mother's death and Kate once admitting she found new motherhood lonely.
Perhaps Kate's biggest step towards a more honest discussion about motherhood came when she chose to don dresses that proudly showed off her post-partum belly (particularly with the arrivals of Prince George and Princess Charlotte).
With two Jenny Packham frocks, she celebrated and normalised the way women's bodies look after birth and it was goddamn wonderful. They were powerful, carefully orchestrated images that were immensely positive for millions, if not hundreds of millions of women, around the globe.
So, Meghan, please keep going! You can play such a profound and powerful role in starting a much-needed conversation about what women really go through during pregnancy and childbirth. Do things differently to Kate. Be just that bit more real. Also, wouldn't it be nice not to have to get a blow dry on that day of all days?
In the glorious hours after she and Hazza become parents (let's all pause here to imagine how seriously cute that baby is going to be), how great would it be for them not to appear on the steps of the Lindo Wing?
For Meghan not to have to get her hair done and a manicure and her makeup done the same day her body and life and marriage underwent a seismic change?
To not have to pretend to be perfect but to be so wonderfully real? I want to see the shot I have seen so many women I know share - of the new family looking thoroughly exhausted and beyond joyful. And it would be world-shaking.