By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a royal-watcher.
I remember being 7 years old, pulled in front of the television by my mom (also not generally a royal-watcher) to watch a few snippets of the Great Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana, with the admonishment that this was unique. This was history, of a sort, being made. I wasn’t a very princessy sort of little girl, but I remembered it anyway.
I remember the night years later, fresh out of college and on the hunt for my first journalism job, when Diana died. I watched the coverage with Mom, like I had 16 years before. It seemed like the end of an era, even in rural Western New York.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that so many of us grow up reading (and watching, thanks to Disney) fairy tales, where it’s all happily ever after and true love winning the day. Princes don’t leave. And princesses don’t die. But we watched and we shook our heads, spared a few thoughts for her sons and carried on. This was the real world, after all.
In 2011, I didn’t pay much attention when Prince William and Kate Middleton were married. I had a family of my own, bills, a job, too many other stressors and concerns to think for more than a few moments about people in a different country who have more money and power than I’ll ever see, simply due to an accident of birth. I think maybe I saw a few photos. Pretty dress. Good luck to them.
When the first news crossed my computer screen earlier this week, though, it hit some sort of a chord, and I’ve found it occupying a corner of my thoughts ever since.
A little prince or princess is a charming image to have, even here in the United States. More of that fairy-tale background, I suppose. There are probably thousands of media types gathered outside the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is being treated for acute morning sickness, all hoping for the merest scrap of information about the impending royal bundle of joy.
But these are human beings we’re talking about.
Barely newlyweds, young parents-to-be, with all the worries and concerns and doubts any parents-to-be have. I looked at a photograph of William entering the hospital to see his pregnant wife with nary a glance at the gathered hordes. I thought about what it must feel like.
And I remember.
I was no more than a month or so pregnant with my firstborn son (who provided lots and lots of stress later in the pregnancy, but that’s a different story) when I had cause to believe something was wrong. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I called my ob/gyn doctor in tears. All she could do was tell me to take it easy and she’d check me out the next day.
I was allowed to slink out of work and how to our apartment, giving my husband’s friends (over to watch hockey) a false-cheery smile before creeping into the bedroom to huddle and worry silently. Hormones are wild at that point anyway, and I was all over the map. I wanted to weep, I wanted to scream, I wanted to plead.
It might really be the first time I realized just how helpless you can feel when it comes to pregnancy and children. I’d given a brand-new hostage to fortune, a hostage completely dependent on me, and yet there was nothing ... nothing ... I could do to protect it.
And I’m think of the former Kate Middleton, in a hospital room, ill and tired (you’re always tired, at this point) and probably surrounded by people but not those she likely most wants to see. The horde waiting outside, ready to pounce on the merest maternity-wear faux pas, eagerly speculating on baby name and the possibility of twins, ready with a zoom lens to capture the slightest sign of what someone considers too much baby weight ... those things I don’t know.
The fear, the stress, the internal prayers and hopes and dreams, however ...
Yeah. With those, I can identify.
So, good luck, Will and Kate. Parenthood is an amazing thing. I hope that even with all the craziness and the media and the never-ending attention and chatter, you can enjoy it.
I hope you get your fairy tale.
Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.