It is a world away – in more ways than one – and yet there is something incredibly familiar about the scene. While most mums spend at least the first 24 hours following the delivery of a new baby cocooned away ensconced in the privacy of their own home or a hospital room, when it’s a new royal baby the rules are different.
After the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her first child, George, and stood on the steps of the Lindo wing, mere hours after going through labour for the first time, I felt almost horrified for her.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 23, 2018
It was several weeks after I gave birth for the first time that I felt steady and fresh on my feet: how did she do it? Why was it expected?
Yes, there were luxuries, a hairdresser and a stylist on hand, but the gritty reality of childbirth remains. As far as I’m aware there is not a biological alternative for royals that evades the fact that childbirth, via whatever means, is a rather tremendous physical endeavour.
And yet hours after conquering that feat the Duchess of Cambridge stood on the hospital steps with her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, introducing their tiny newborn George to the world. They were visibly filled with wonder, fear and love, a mixture of emotions familiar to any first time parents.
The photographs were immediately iconic and I cannot lay eyes on them without remembering the pangs of sympathy I felt for these two navigating their new roles under the spotlight. Third time around, it is so very different.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 23, 2018
Late on Monday evening it was announced that the Duchess had given birth to their third child, a son.
In time the duke exited the hospital and returned with their other two children, George and Charlotte, to meet their baby brother.
— Getty Images (@GettyImages) April 23, 2018
Then, shortly afterwards, in the very early hours of Tuesday morning Australian time, Prince William and Kate took to the steps of the Lindo wing to show off their newborn bundle.
There is still some wonder on my part – imagine having to present yourself to a throng of cameras and films after giving birth when what the occasion truly calls for is tea and hot buttered toast in bed.
But the other wonder is this. Giving birth, in many cases, gets easier. First time around everything about the process – from labour itself to feeding the tiny newborn now physically in your care, to strapping them into a carseat – is unknown terrain. It’s all new and the cumulative responsibility is daunting. This is not so with subsequent babies: there is less fear and less unknown.
— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2018
Which explains why this morning I am looking at the images and footage of Prince William and Kate with their unnamed baby bundle on the hospital steps and rather than feeling sympathy I am feeling pangs of envy. Not because I would like the media circus around them but because I envy the magic in their lives right now. The magic of bringing a new family member home – introducing them to their siblings and marvelling at the miracle of new life – is unparalleled. It’s a joy I know and remember well.
After fulfilling her royal duties I hope the Duchess of Cambridge can now retreat to enjoy that magic and another of life’s unparalleled joys: tea and toast to her heart’s content.