My mobile phone beeped at 6.09am with the news.
“Kate Middleton is pregnant,” I read through bleary eyes.
My heart did a sommersault (is that weird? Okay, don’t answer …). But it’s the truth, so there you have it. I was unashamedly overjoyed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and I remained in that drunk-on-joy-hooray-for-a-royal-baby mood right up until I read the announcement from the Palace. The pregnancy has been confirmed but Kate is yet to reach 12 weeks.
She’s essentially been backed into a corner and forced to announce this pregnancy due to her hospitalisation on Monday. And THAT moment, when I realised what this all meant, that’s when my heart went from doing star jumps to dropping into my ugg boots.
‘Oh God,’ I thought. Just like every woman who has ever suffered the shock and pure devastation of a first trimester miscarriage. Just like every woman who has gleefully told friends and family of an expected baby only to have to – through a fog of sadness or numbness – make the calls and send the emails that start with the words, “We have some terrible news to share …“
I lost my first pregnancy at six and a half weeks. Alone in Townsville at a writers festival. I’d just checked into the festival hotel when my body went into cramps and I started to cry.
I knew what was happening as the floaty dreams of prams and cots and snuggling this little soul evaporated. Just like that. And regardless of how early a miscarriage is, if the baby is much-wanted, if you have already felt the whisper of a new little spirit in your ear – the loss can bring you to your knees. Your baby has gone.
But that fear for the Duchess having a miscarriage is not the only reason that some couples greeted Monday’s news with heavy hearts.
When you’re desperately trying to conceive or have suffered a stillbirth or neo-natal death, the news of someone else’s (really anyone else’s) pregnancy can feel like a sucker punch.
And while I’m not in that headspace now, I have been. Boy, have I been.
A month or so after my daughter Georgie was stillborn in 2010, Nicole Kidman announced the arrival of her daughter Faith Margaret. And I was devastated. Nicole didn’t realise but she and I had been on the same road.
In my head we were walking it together. She married Keith a few months before I married my husband Brad in 2006. She had Sunday Rose a few months before I had my daughter Ava.
And now she was announcing the arrival of her second daughter, Faith, while I was holding my second daughter’s ashes in a pewter heart in my hand.
‘This is not how it is meant to go,’ I sobbed to a friend over the phone. ‘Now Nicole has moved away, ahead of me and I’m left standing here. I’m left behind.’
It makes no sense, I know. It sounds stupid and trivial and petty. And it wasn’t about Nicole at all. Of course. But these are the feelings that flood you when you have lost a child. Envy and bitterness sometimes set up camp in your mind. Along with despair.
When you are longing for a child of your own there are times when you feel like you are being haunted by other people’s babies. Cards with storks delivering pretty pink bundles. Booties. Baby showers. And ‘baby bump’ magazine covers. And for thousands of people yesterday (and today and for the 7 months ahead) the media’s obsession with Kate and Will’s baby will strangle their hearts rather than prompt star jumps and somersaults. It’s not at all that you don’t wish them joy, it’s just, well, a reminder of what you are missing yourself.
So to all of you who are in that headspace, I am thinking of you and sending you love. I have been where you are. I get it.
What you need to know is that you’re not alone. Your feelings are normal. And I am wishing for you everything I could wish for myself.
And that goes for the Duchess of Cambridge too.