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In which I thank the Duchess of Cambridge

To Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge (or, as we all refer to her, Kate):

THANK YOU!

Signed,

Every woman who has ever given birth

kate2

As we’ve already established on this blog, I’m a raging Royalist. I know it completely flies in the face of my anti-establishment tendencies and my social justice wannabe self with a heart for the underdog. I can understand and affirm all the arguments against the monarchy with my reasonable brain and my theological education, absolutely. But in my heart of hearts, I’m still the little girl who grew up in the 80s in Canada at the height of the Princess Diana years and so God save the Queen and everyone else can bugger off. I’m letting the soft animal part of me love what it loves (with apologies to Mary Oliver….yet again).

And I love the Royal Family.

So of course I was elated over the news of the safe arrival of Prince George. I have grown to (embarrassingly) love the Duchess of Cambridge over the years. I didn’t think there was anything she could do that would make me love her more than her grace, dignity, discretion, and beauty had already accomplished.

But then she walked out of that hospital in her blue polka dot dress – which, of course, immediately reminded me of Princess Diana’s own polka dot dress at the introduction of Prince William to the world – and a delightful little baby pooch.

And women everywhere cheered.

Because in the face of supermarket tabloids that barely allow a woman’s perineum to be stitched up before they are gleefully asking “how she’s going to lose the weight” and a celebrity culture that plans a tummy tuck before even nursing the new babe for the first time, we have forgotten how having a baby actually looks on a body.

Here let me tell you: it’s a big deal to have a baby. After you have a baby, you are left with a softly pooched out tummy and aching nether-regions, sore breasts and your entire heart now laying beside you making noises like a kitten. You are weepy and exhausted, gloriously alive and powerful. You are a life-giver and so now you want both a nap and a hearty roast beef dinner for your troubles. Your skin is criss-crossed with stretch marks because you don’t participate in co-creation with God without being marked by the experience. You became a mother and, no matter how many sit-ups you do, your body will bear the imprint of that truth for the rest of your life in some way.

It can take a year, maybe longer, for a woman’s body to recover from birth. And right after having a baby, one’s focus should be bonding, nursing, sleeping, trying to figure out who the baby looks like, eating well, and healing – not on how soon one can fit into pre-pregnancy  jeans or appear on a D-list celebrity rag in a bikini.

Now Kate looked beautiful and well dressed, of course, unlike us peasants in our maternity yoga pants and nursing bras for weeks after giving birth. (I have my suspicions that she may have been standing there in her heels wondering how much longer before she could go back inside and sit on the ice pack again though.)  I’m no dummy either – I know she’s going to drop the baby weight quickly (and she likely has a nanny so she’ll look more rested than even those of us without infants any longer).

But still, she walked outside with her adorable baby belly on display and the world noticed. She did not hide her body and she did not demure from the truth of what she had just accomplished. I could have cheered because truthfully I’m a bit proud of my own pooch, I earned it three times over.

Related: In which I promise not to call myself fat

In which I write a love letter to my own body

 

 

baby, giving birth, health, women
  • Living on love

    Oh thank you for this post. Loved that paragraph: Here let me tell you: it’s a big deal to have a baby. After you have a baby, you are left with a softly pooched out tummy and aching nether-regions, sore breasts and your entire heart now laying beside you making noises like a kitten. You are weepy and exhausted, gloriously alive and powerful. You are a life-giver and so now you want both a nap and a hearty roast beef dinner for your troubles. Your skin is criss-crossed with stretch marks because you don’t participate in co-creation with God without being marked by the experience. You became a mother and, no matter how many sit-ups you do, your body will bear the imprint of that truth for the rest of your life in some way.

    Yes, yes, yes!

  • http://www.lisajobaker.com/ Lisa-Jo Baker

    #ThoughtTheExactSameThing

  • Jerusalem Greer

    I am a long-time royal watcher as well. When I was little, my daddy rented a TV just so I could watch Diana and Charles wedding. I adore Kate and think all the little nods to Diana are sweet. And she is the best for showing off that bump!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Awwww….see I knew I liked you.

  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    I love her too….there is just something so dignified about her. As baby number three pound me from the inside I concur…I’m proud of my “baby belly”. :) No matter how done I look in my postpartum pictures there is that radiance of wow this happened!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes! That’s a great phrase for it – radiance of wow.

  • Kelly Sauer

    Oh yes. You just made me cry. Dang. I need to lunch with you more often, Sarah…

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Done! can’t wait to see you again, friend.

  • http://www.leahcolbeck.com/ Leah Colbeck

    I loved that too! No spanx thank goodness – she looks the more beautiful for it and I hope it was in part a gift to herself to remind everyone that she just had a baby and deserves the time off to get to know and love him and motherhood. Beautiful description on what it’s like to have a baby Sarah.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Leah!

  • SortaCrunchy

    adore.

  • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

    “you don’t participate in co-creation with God without being marked by the experience” … YES! In birth as well as ministry and life. I remember packing for the hospital to have my first child (I now have 3). I packed my pre-pregancy jeans fully expecting to skip out of the hospital with my “old body back”. Boy was I shocked when I lost only 11 of the 60 pounds I had put on over the prior 9 months. Depression ensued. We need more truth-telling role models so we can have realistic expectations. Bravo Kate and thank you Sarah for making an important point.

  • Maria

    Yes! I thought the same thing when I saw those pictures. I also was so thankful that she honestly showed the marks of her motherhood for the whole world to see. What a great example for ourselves and our daughters. May we all be so brave.

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/ James Prescott

    I watched it on TV, I’ve always liked Kate for the same reason as you and am a Royalist in the same way as you are. All credit to Kate for showing off the bump.

    And can you believe a female TV news reporter – who I think is a mother, certainly old enough to be – actually asked someone live on TV “How’s she going to lose the weight?” and my favourite “When is the baby going to be born?”. I despair of the media, I really do.

  • http://inspiredrd.com InspiredRD

    A hearty amen.

  • http://www.kewp.blogspot.com/ Katherine Willis Pershey

    Yes, yes, yes.

  • http://logicandimagination.wordpress.com/ Melody Harrison Hanson

    i was shocked by her belly even before it hit me that i was shocked and knew better. i carried and bore three children and was shocked when i couldn’t get into my pre-pregnancy jeans to come home from the hospital. yes, thanks for pointing out something beautiful about women, and specifically about Kate.

  • http://www.hollicareylong.com/ Holli Carey Long

    Love everything about this and her as well. The sit-ups are especially useless, I find, when the children come two at a time as mine did. Thank you for the permission to be proud of the marks and of the change.

    • Dalaina May

      LOL. Just yesterday one of my 4 year old twins patted my bare tummy as I finished a workout and said, “Mommy, your tummy looks like a raisin.” Yep buddy. Sure does. And you and your brother are worth those scars.

  • http://www.wordsofjoy75.blogspot.co.uk/ Joy Lenton

    So pleased you are enamoured with our royal family, Sarah! I love the Duchess of Cambridge too and she has done new mothers the world over a great service. Yes, I noticed the endearing soft swell of her post-partum belly and it made me smile. That’s what a new mum looks like. She’s naturally beautiful and radiant. But that’s a far cry from airbrushed, skin-tight jeaned perfection straight after birth. The Cambridges appear to be refreshingly down to earth, relaxed and as natural as they can be in their unique position. Hopefully my daughter-in-law will take note of this when she gives birth later this year!

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  • Bev Murrill

    She has courage to do that, doesn’t she? But she also has a fantastic sense of self; she has the confidence to be what we all are – an ordinary woman. She may have made the massive climb from being a commoner to being a Duchess and future Queen, but she also has her feet on the ground and refuses to be forced into a box of what a celebrity royal looks like. I love this article.

  • LapsedLutheran

    I’m totally with you, I LOVE the royal family and Kate Middleton rocks my socks off. Hurray for Prince George and body positivity!

  • acfshenk

    A friend had the grace to give me a heads-up on what my belly would look like shortly after giving birth… she told me to pack maternity clothes in my hospital bag because I would need them when I left the hospital. No sooner could I start to feel offended than she remarked that my belly would not instantly flatten out to its pre-pregnancy size. This was news to me! But I’m so glad that she told me because it was still alarming to see it… but I knew that it was normal. I love that Kate went ahead and at least seemed to be out and about without a thought as to how her belly would be viewed by the public. Because really, like you said, it is what it is! And we have beautiful babies to remind us of why we’re looking like this in the first place. :)

  • Jenn Chiodo

    You said perineum. Made me laugh out loud. :)

  • http://gretchenlouise.com/ Gretchen Louise

    Yes, yes, and yes! :)

  • Gabrielle Meyer

    I loved this post! This was especially beautiful to me: “…because you don’t participate in co-creation with God without being marked by the experience.” It brought tears to my eyes. I have co-created with God three times–the last time He and I brought forth twin boys! My body has definitely–and irrevocably–been marked by the process. Thank you for this refreshing look at Kate. I agree, she brings a wealth of beauty and grace to her title. I can respect her.

  • Miriam

    Great post!! By the way, they actually went on record to say they will not hire a nanny! AND….. as far as your theological arguments against royalty, they make for an amazing metaphor of our identity in Christ. Kate believes that she is a princess, and for all the sacrifice because of the pressures that come with her position and all the freedoms she has exchanged for ultimate privacy, etc. she seems to see her life as charmed and privileged and celebrates all that she DOES have. Whereas Fergie never saw herself as a princess and acted thus. She was given a great gift and she threw it away. If we see ourselves as saints, no longer sinners; as co-heirs, instead of dogs, then we will act thus and that identity leads us into holiness and power! Take that to the spiritual bank ;)

  • mrychr

    You and your baby (and your husband) are amazing! Congratulations to you all, and best wishes as you enter on this wonderful journey of life.

  • fiona lynne

    Thank you also from all the woman hoping to one day birth a child… to be given permission to look *normal* after giving birth. What a release.

  • Erin – FIG + COTTON

    Great post! I agree completely!

    http://figandcotton.blogspot.com/

  • Rachel S

    Oh goodness-I came across this from Pinterest and it made me bawl! I’m an American in love with the Royal Family, and was convinced I was going to marry Prince William when I was ten. However, Kate seems like an awfully nice gal, so I think I’m okay with how things turned out. I remember stepping out of the hospital bed for the first time when my son was born and gaping how much belly was still there. I shed tears of joy and camaraderie when I watched those two lovebirds walk out of the hospital with their precious baby, and was so happy to see Kate happily displaying the marks of motherhood!

  • Marie

    As I watched the live feed of them coming out of the hospital I couldn’t help but let out a little cheer when I saw her little baby belly! Like you, I already liked her, but after this I respect her even more! She could have worn spanx or even had a dress made that downplayed the bump. But, NO! She came out proud! I’ve also read that she did it completely natural with no main meds. Way to go Royal Mama! I couldn’t imagine greeting THE WORLD 24 hours after I had my son, and she did it with complete grace.

  • k.d.

    LOVE THIS! I just had my first baby not quite two weeks ago, so I hadn’t heard much about the royal baby, other than that he’d been born. (I’ve been a bit distracted! Another fun fact, my husband and I also got married the same weekend as Will and Kate, so we had a nice laugh when word broke that she was due in July as well… copycats! haha) Anyways, this is so refreshing!! I expected to still look somewhat pregnant after the baby was born, so there was little surprise when I first looked in the mirror.. but it is so, so lovely to have it reaffirmed that THIS IS NORMAL by the elegant Kate. Beautifully written!

  • http://www.withallherheart.blogspot.com/ Katherine Michael

    I’m right there cheering with you! But I was equally amazed at her ability to walk the day after giving birth!!! (!!) I mean she gave birth. without pain meds….I followed that plan and It took me 3 days to shuffle down the hallway out to the parking garage. Bravo to her.

  • H Phillips

    That was the most beautiful and truthful thing I have read in a long time. So true to all of us that have been there! I loved the picture, and I thought how much I loved seeing her belly, then I read this…..so lovely

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  • Larissa

    THANK YOU! I feel the exact same way. You nailed it!

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  • Helen EF

    FYI I heard she is the first royal to forgo nannies of all kinds in the early monthes of George’s life and instead be 100% hands on mum – Doesn’t that make you love her even more?!

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  • Victoria Wilson

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you for this post :) I also have come to really appreciate what Princess Kate has done for women everywhere and, when we think about it, the royal family as well. I’m 4 1/2 months pregnant with my first baby and have been increasingly sensitive to the expectations on expectant moms. Couldn’t agree with your thoughts more!

  • Marlene Blowers Baron

    I love this! I bear the marks of 5 babies. What an honor to birth life.

  • http://1825steps.com/ Peetu

    Oh, this had to be said! Love this post..

  • Janel

    This extraordinary post made me laugh out loud (the ice pack park and the roast beef part), cry (co-creation with God and the kitten noises part), feel furious (at the tabloids and the world and myself for listening to them), and resolve to stop thinking the way Hollywood tells me to think. And to try and love my pooch, four times earned. And also, maybe buy myself a polka dot dress. : ) Thank you.

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