I’m pretty sure Kate Middleton wants to be me.
First, the chick followed me to St. Andrews University, where we both met our prince charmings. She got engaged to hers in Kenya — as did I — and we both had royal weddings: hers in front of the Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, mine performed by the King of Rock and Roll in a Vegas chapel.
A few years later she gave birth to a boy — like I did. And less than two years after that she had a girl — also like I did.
Seriously, Kate. You need to back the s—t off.
Alas, if I’m realistic about it, our commonalities are on paper only. Nowhere is this more true than with the fact we have both delivered babies “naturally” in London hospitals.
Much has been made here in the U.S. of Kate’s decision to go the natural route in her labor and delivery. But having experienced a “natural,” midwife-supervised delivery in Britain, I can’t help but feel like Inigo Montoya when he utters his second best line in The Princess Bride:
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
My son’s 22-hour delivery involved the following: an induction of labor, a shot of pethidine, a membrane “sweep,” pitocin, a failed epidural, a steady stream of nitrous oxide to help me pass out between contractions and an episiotomy. The only intervention I didn’t receive was a C-section, not that I didn’t beg for one. That or for someone to kill me.
When it was all over, a beaming midwife leaned over my hospital bed and said, “Aren’t you glad you did that the natural way?”
Having just been through the most unnatural experience of my life — and still sporting a righteous buzz from the laughing gas — I was convinced she was a hallucination until she leaned over and stuck me with a needle for a blood test. (They wanted to check my hemoglobin levels. You know, how animals do in the wild once they’ve eaten the afterbirth.)
A British midwife friend later explained that this young woman was referring to the fact that my son used the, um, traditional, or, (DAD, STOP READING HERE) vaginal entrance.
This meant that, despite the interventions, the substances both injected and inhaled, and the slicing and dicing, his would go on record as being a “natural” delivery. And I would get a sash from the NHS saying: “I birthed naturally. Ask me how.” Or something.
Now, we know for a fact — well, we don’t know it’s a fact, it’s just what we’ve been told — that Kate wasn’t induced. (Unless Will decided to grant her the ol’ “princely pardon,” if you know what I mean. Heh heh. The dawg.) And from the term “no recourse to serious painkillers,” we can deduce she didn’t receive an epidural.
But the average British woman has an arsenal of substances — from opioids to the aforementioned nitrous oxide — to help her keep her sanity during the hardest parts of labor.
According to my midwife friend, some do “cross the placenta” but none are considered serious. And because it was claimed that nothing serious was used, as opposed to nothing at all, it’s probable Kate availed herself of them.
As is her right. Trust me, I’m the last person in the world to turn up my nose up at how another woman delivers her own freakin’ child. But it amuses me to know the Duchess of Cambridge might have been high as a kite on nitrous oxide during the worst bits. I doubt she did impersonations of her midwives or said to her husband, “Punch me in the face. I won’t feel it!” as certain women may or may not have done when stoned on laughing gas during their deliveries. But you never know.
I have been told that nitrous oxide is now being used at more natural deliveries here in the U.S., and that is just fantastic as far as I’m concerned. But the American women I know who have given birth naturally used things such as hot water, deep breathing and meditation to help with the pain.
Initially, it bothered me that anyone cared at all how Kate Middleton gave birth. It is, ultimately, a personal decision and a personal moment and she will get so few of those now that she is part of the royal family.
But it occurred to me that this must be a huge deal for the people I know who espouse natural childbirth. Over the years, these women and their partners have received criticism and condemnation for choosing to have their babies at home or in a hospital with as few medical interventions as possible.
To have Kate Middleton, who is so respected and admired, choose to deliver her baby under similar circumstances must be a huge “F you!” to all the naysayers.
No woman should be called stupid or crazy or arrogant for how she chooses to welcome her child into the world.
But perhaps we could be a little more realistic here.
Unless one of the attendants breaks their legally induced silence, we will never have proof that Kate birthed in a hot tub surrounded by gentle deer to a chorus of bongo drums, as so many people seem to envision.
I’m not saying anyone will be writing the tell-all, “The Duchess Barfed Coronation Chicken While Huffing Nitrous Oxide and Trying to Strange Herself With a Curtain Sash,” either.
Although I would totally read that book.