An open letter to the Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement of her third pregnancy
September 5, 2017
(Can I call you that? I feel like I know you since I follow your fashion account on Twitter. Or, rather, the person who stalks the fashion rags and reposts effortlessly elegant shots of you in that stunning, understated classic signature style of yours, whether you’re caught in 3 inch heels standing on a tarmac in South Africa or kneeling to reprimand an errant 3 year old in a perfectly chic blazer. But, I digress, the point of this tangent being: I admire you to the point of familiarity.)
Maybe it’s because you’re an everygirl’s princess, a lot like your late mother in law. (And while I know you’re not technically a princess yet, it’s tempting to project my childhood Disney dreams onto your gorgeous, growing family.)
I know you face a lot of scrutiny in the press, whether it’s for looking “too perfect” or for being adorably “just like the rest of us” for daring to bare an hours-fresh postpartum bump in each of your previous hospital-step photo ops. It takes guts to face a global press corp at a mere 6 hours postpartum, let alone 6 weeks. And girl, if you want to get your hair blown out before appearing on the cover of every rag and tabloid in Great Britain, power to you.
The reality is, you’ve married onto the world stage by marrying into the royal family, and you seem to shoulder the mantel of responsibility with grace. That you’ve chosen to make mental health one of the most public focuses of your personal advocacy work speaks volumes about your character; it’s not always easy or even civil to discuss mental health and the lack of care for those who suffer mental illness, especially in the public arena. But you seem no stranger to criticism.
I know that pregnancy is an enormous sacrifice, and that each of your pregnancies have been complicated by the presence of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a serious and debilitating complication that can result in hospitalization and real trauma to the mother’s body, mind, and spirit. I know there are those who have scoffed at you for subjecting yourself to another nine months of “torture” (because I’ve read the comments online) just for the sake of another little bundle of royal needs. One intrepid Twitter genius quipped “there goes the rainforest” in reaction to your joyous news, as if 3 children were some hideous burden to lay upon the shoulders of the environment. As if a human person could possibly be reduced to the sum of their projected carbon footprint. As if a family of 5 were a ghastly vestige of the past, best swept into the annuls of history as we move boldly forward in our “enlightened” view of the human person as nothing more than a collection of electrical impulses, nerves, and appetites for consumption.
But you seem to know better. While chasing around two little toddlers, you’ve probably recognized the infinite value and capacity for love and innovation contained within the spirit of a single human person. The truth that no matter how many times you open your heart up to another little soul, it is not only your body that expands to accommodate them.
It is no small thing to bring forth new life in a culture that seems to be deteriorating all around us, to whisper that humble and magnificent fiat with your very body. In a world of increasing strife and violence, it’s easy enough to give in to fear and uncertainty, perhaps choosing to play it safe or decrying the sensibility of bringing forth innocent children into a place that, frankly, we’ve made a mess of.
But you’re a mom. So you’ve had a peek behind the curtain. You know that these children of ours are worth it, and that the future belongs not to those of us who rule from on high with money, power, and prestige (though you surely posses all three) but that it actually rests securely in the hands of our little ones. Perhaps you’ve come to the same conclusion that I have: that the only real, lasting impact we stand to make on the world lies in the intellectual and moral formation of our sons and daughters, in instilling in them a love and appreciation for truth, goodness, and beauty. That all the strife and suffering that exists in this weary world of ours cannot possibly be eradicated in our lifetimes, but could perhaps be in theirs.
Isn’t that always the hope? And isn’t bringing another child into the world, not in spite of but precisely because of the grim circumstances of it all, the most profoundly hope-filled thing we can do?
I know you’re going to be under the microscope for the next 9 months, even more intensely than you normally are. And I know there will be discussions on your hairstyle, on how big or small or perfectly round or disappointingly flat your belly is. I know whether you choose to convalesce for 24 hours before stepping out for photos or appear bright eyed and blown-out a mere hours after delivery, you will be scrutinized and judged by a sometimes unfeeling public.
But let mine be one small voice among many offering you congratulations, prayers for health and comfort in the face of hardship, and sincere gratitude for the courageous – yep, courageous – act of bringing forth new life in a culture that despises the light, and in a world that prefers comfort to courage.
It is no small thing to bring a new source of light into a world that loves darkness.
(And P.s. idk where you do most of your maternity shopping, but Target’s got a killer new maternity jean that you might want to check out if you ever feel like slumming it, sartorially speaking.)