In case you haven’t been following it, Prince William and Kate Middleton have announced they are expecting a baby. Or rather, they had to admit that the Duchess of Cambridge is in the very early stages of pregnancy after she was admitted to hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition which is to morning sickness what the flu is to a bit of a sniffle.
Because I keep reading in the press that she has “morning sickness,” allow me to elaborate.
Hyperemesis gravidarium is described as “unrelenting nausea and vomiting.” Symptoms include a loss of five to ten per cent of body fat and can lead to malnutrition.
Apart from the fact that the poor woman has been throwing up enough to require hospitalisation, she has had to announce the fact that she’s pregnant almost as soon as she found out herself.
Eight weeks pregnant is very early. Many people wait until after their 12 week abnormality scan before going public with the news, and for good reason. Around one in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage. More than 80 per cent of these losses occur before 12 weeks. In addition to the risk of miscarriage, there is also the risk that severe abnormalities will be discovered at that 12 week scan. The range of possibilities is very broad.
At my 12 week scan for my first pregnancy, the sonographer found a much larger than average nuchal fold. It’s a measurement of the amount of fluid at the back of the baby’s neck and is a strong indicator for Downs Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.
A week of tests and stress followed, then a diagnosis. My baby had Downs and was doing very, very poorly. The sonographer subsequently told us that our baby was very unlikely to survive pregnancy, but we decided not to let nature take its course and terminated the pregnancy. We told our friends and family and were supported through the whole horrific experience.
I cannot even begin to imagine if all of that had been accompanied by paparazzi, newspaper headlines and being one of the most well-known people in my country and around the world. Of course, people I knew had opinions, but they were kind enough to keep them to themselves.
It’s easy to think “poor little rich girl” when it comes to people like Kate Middleton and the Royal Family. There are women around the world who have to endure all kinds of pregnancy complications without the benefits of private healthcare and not having to go to work to raise the money to support themselves and their future child. Kate has the luxury of being able to take time away from her normal duties and do nothing but rest until she feels better. In terms of her public life, missing the premier screening of The Hobbit probably isn’t too great a hardship (after all, it’s going to be a trilogy now).
But she is also a woman like you or me, one who is in the very early weeks of a very public pregnancy. She has had to tell the world before most women would choose to tell anyone but their closest family, and now she can expect to be photographed from every possible angle each time she steps outside.
So Kate and William have a testing few weeks ahead of them. The statistics are on their side, of course. That one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage means that three out of four don’t.
It is unlikely that seven months from now the little bundle third-in-line to the British throne won’t be gracing newspaper front pages across the globe. But if I were Kate, I would want to go into hiding for several weeks and emerge fully rested and considerably more confident of the life growing inside me before letting the whole world start their congratulations.
Written by Catherine Ross