To Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge (or, as we all refer to her, Kate):
Every woman who has ever given birth
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.