The Princess and the Postpartum Reality

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Some days, I truly believe that we are making progress in the world of supporting each other as mothers. The less “mom-shaming” for using formula, returning back to work, or co-sleeping, the better off we all are.

And other days, it feels as if we live in an alternate reality when it comes to motherhood. 

A few weeks ago, we witnessed Princess Kate gracefully leave the hospital with her baby boy, Prince Louis. Of course, exiting the hospital wasn’t the issue–obviously, newborns need to leave at some point. It was more the timing of the exit that caused a stir.

This is because Princess Kate left the hospital seven hours after giving birth.

SEVEN!

And to boot, she looked like she was off to a fancy brunch, as she was wearing impeccable makeup, jewelry, and heels!

When I first saw the photo, I couldn’t help but stare for a moment. Was she the anomaly for being so dressed up within hours of popping out an 8-pound baby–or was I, since I recalled still being in my hospital gown, throwing back apple juice galore due to the dehydration caused by my epidural at the same hour mark.

(And yes–I had an epidural. Speaking of “mom-shaming”…).

I quickly shook my head and forced myself to snap out of imaginary childbirth world.

Princess Kate was most certainly the exception; not the rule.

As I read the article that accompanied the snapshot, a few other thoughts came to mind. Could this be what first-time mothers think childbirth looks like? Maybe even worse, is this what men expect childbirth to be like?

I understand Kate is a Princess and that the entire world is infatuated with the royal family. Believe me, I agreed to a 2:30 a.m. call to be a part of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress “Royal Wedding Fashion Show” in Time Square (a story for another day) to celebrate her wedding to Prince William; I am just as enamored as the rest. But when we really reflect on this photo and the millions (billions?) of people who will see it, what type of message does it send?

And I don’t just mean the message to moms who are expecting a baby or who have given birth, but also to the moms a few weeks into parenthood. These may be the moms who can hardly muster the energy to brush their teeth due to a baby who refuses to sleep at night, or the moms who wonder why they can’t get off the couch as the postpartum depression begins to take over.

Those experiences test every fiber of your being and believe me, there are no pearls in those real-life moments.

Let’s be serious: Giving birth to a baby–whether it’s your first or your fifth–is exhausting, painful, messy, and sometimes downright scary; the weeks that follow are as well.

If the princess was honestly up to dressing in such a way so soon after giving birth, props to her; she proves that some princesses do actually have magical powers (*cough, cough* Elsa). But for the sake of all the mothers who are still rocking hospital socks at seven hours postpartum, maybe projecting that image–and therefore expectation–is unfair.

And Princess Kate–just in case this post makes it’s way into your inbox–even though all the other princesses before you have done this very thing after delivery, we wouldn’t judge you for needing a few days to heal and to be vulnerable.

Truthfully, we would probably love you even more.

Now on to the royal wedding….

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Meet Caitlin! Caitlin grew up in Fairfield, CT and after some time living elsewhere, she is ecstatic to call the town home again. She works full-time in higher education at a local university and has found great joy in supporting college students for almost ten years. Caitlin met her husband, Matthew, in college. They were married in 2009 and welcomed their daughter, Parker, in December of 2014. She spends her free time at yoga, writing, watching sports, and attempting to change the world through advocacy and involvement in social justice movements. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter @CaitPereira.

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