Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Royal Baby

The other day, my daughter and I were standing in line at a supermarket, idly waiting for the man in front to get an assistant to check the price of his pâté, have an argument about it, and then decide not to buy it.

Our eyes, as we idled, fell upon the obligatory magazine stand. It was crammed with celebrity gossip mags screeching about the forthcoming Royal Birth. My daughter read out, "Kate: My Worries About Whether I'll Be a Perfect Mum! Royal Pair: Will and Kate Already Planning Number Two! Duchess: Too Posh to Push? Kate Says She's Worried About Losing Her Figure!"

Actually, I can't quite recall the wording, but you get the idea. Royal Babymania, to crown the summer of British Sporting success. Murray! Tour de France! Ashes! Rugby! Parturition!

My daughter, bless her, and no doubt because she is being brought up by the world's most argumentative mother, was horrified and incredulous. "She hasn't even had the baby yet!" she shrieked, looking around to see whether others shared her consternation. The sounds of the British public, gently chewing cud as they waited patiently in line (me included), were all that met her social critique. That's my girl.

I found myself wondering this morning exactly what the Duchess of Cambridge's birth story was like. How many people were present in the room? Did anyone check the warming pan to see if a changeling had been smuggled in? Was she allowed to give birth naturally? Was she allowed to ask for her gynaecologist of choice? Why did a man deliver the baby?

It was rather touching to know that the Duke and Duchess behaved "as any normal parents would do". They spent time with their newborn before issuing the press release, they phoned their folks first, they spent the night in hospital together (actually, that's not normal, on the NHS, partner has to go home for that first excruciating night…).

The baby boy, of course, will no more have a normal life than I am the Pope. However, it is interesting to see what the privileged do about pregnancy, maternity and parenting, because it allows us to think about the way in which all of us are exposed to public scrutiny when we have babies. Kate Middleton should be knighted simply because she has endured a pregnancy in the public eye and produced a lovely healthy baby despite it all. She's obviously superwoman.

I wonder how long it will be before the Royal breastfeeding debate kicks off? And how long will Kate take off before she goes back to work? How will she juggle childcare vouchers? Will she go nanny or nursery? Part time or full time? Will she manage to lose that baby weight quickly enough? Will she smack?

Will she be happy?

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