Just 20 months into the job, Kate Middleton has already left a legacy.
By sharing with the world that she has fallen prey to the horrid clutches of severe morning sickness and is languishing in a royal hospital suite on an intravenous drip, she has blown open one of the last bastions of secret women’s business: that pregnancy can be a hideous affair.
While some might scoff at the preciousness of it, the princess taking to her bed, it is not much ado about nothing. Morning sickness, and its more insidious sister, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, can be debilitating, knocking recipients (1% of pregnancies) for six and leaving them unable to function.
Yet, they are required to. There is not much empathy for morning sickness, dismissed as a sign of weakness or ungratefulness, lamenting your queasy stomach when you should be celebrating the baby growing inside. Woman up! It’s all just part of the deal.
Don’t let the hockey stick fool you, Kate was likely holding back a good spew.
I feel for Kate. I’ve been there with a solid dose of HG, throwing up all day (the “morning” bit a complete misnomer) for the first five months of my first pregnancy. I ended up in casualty, twice, for injections to stop the incessant vomiting. I lived on Salada crackers and apples, throwing those up too. For an estimated 15% of women it gets so unbearable that they have terminated their pregnancies just to make it stop. I know several women for whom morning sickness was the deal breaker for having more babies. Charlotte Bronte, four months’ pregnant, died from it.
While Kate has bravely checked out of official duties and ‘fessed up, we commoners think we have to be stoic – developing crafty ways to explain our frailty and hourly vomits.
Gastro. That was my excuse. A long and vicious bout. I would time my vomits for the sport breaks while presenting the news. No such luck when I threw up on stage in front of a few hundred at a Woman’s Day function. Luckily someone passed me an ice cream container in the nick of time, as the lovely ladies mopped my brow with knowing looks. But none breathed a word about what the real diagnosis might be. Because you don’t.
Jacinta overcame horrendous morning sickness to bring her two boys, Jasper & Otis, into the world.
There was a time when we didn’t talk about birth or even where babies came from in the first place. A woman would never own up to finding motherhood a struggle. Other bleak symptoms of pregnancy – swollen feet, heartburn, weight gain – are grist for the mill. But with morning sickness you are expected to just deal.
“I know how you feel”, my bloke said empathetically when I was in the thick of it. “I’ve done the Sydney to Hobart.” That was three days. This was five months. At least with offshore racing there is an end in sight.
Astoundingly, for a condition so crippling and potentially fatal, there is no cure or remedy. Apart from giving birth. I tried Maxolon, acupuncture and gnawing on raw ginger. I took time off work and lay in bed day and night sipping lemonade and hurling into a bucket, willing time away. I even resorted to a tapping technique downloaded off the internet.
Nothing worked. Not even the wives’ tale assurances that the sicker the mother the healthier the baby. At that point, so distracted was I by my own malady, the baby was the furthest thing from my mind.
They say Morning Sickness is a feminist issue because if men knew the half of it we’d no longer be suffering. But now that Princess Catherine has got it, things might change.
Just as she has breathed new life into bangs and coat dresses, we can only hope her spell of HG might be a clarion call. Women the world over would love her for it.
*Jacinta Tynan is an author and a Sky News Presenter. You can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter: @jacintatynan.