Last night I dreamt that Kate Middleton was my next door neighbour and that she and Wills had their baby. It was a boy in case you were wondering, and the Duchess looked glowing and perfect within minutes. Promptly upon her birthing (home birth) she and I went shopping, I like to think that maybe we were now 'besties'. This shopping trip was on the premise that I would teach her all about motherhood, what with my one year's worth of fabulous experience.
I'm not sure where her baby was. Wills was most certainly not around. I think maybe she left baby with the nanny. So we trawled the shops, looking for lordy knows what, me amazed at her ability to recuperate so damned quick. But she is a celeb of the highest degree, and so red cheeks from pushing and greasy hair from sweat are an impossibility. Even in the land of dreams.
I awoke before any wisdom had been imparted. Which is a shame, because we mums do love to share our learning. If the thought had occurred to me I may have mentioned she ought to get back home to her baby and do a little bit of bonding. I would hope in reality that would be a given. So instead I will post my advice for the nations beloved Kate on these pages. If she likes it, she can call me, maybe a playdate isn't entirely out of the question?
Kate is said to be going down the hypnobirthing route. My new book Dear Poppyseed, A Soulful Momma's Pregnancy Journal records my experience with hypnobirthing, and indeed my desire for a natural birth. I don't know what palace protocol might be on such things, but I hope they let her birth the way she wishes. But even if they do, it's an utter truth that nature will always, always trump even directions from the State. And so, like many other mothers before her, birth may not go to plan. If this happens hypnobirthing does a great deal to level the playing field. When my birth did not go how I envisioned it, and believe me I envisioned it every bleeding day alongside relevant mantras and meditations, hypnobirthing gave me a calm approach. I was not left bemoaning the loss of a 'natural' birth as some mothers do. Instead I embraced the reality of our current birthing system and praised the cosmic wonders that brought me my girl safe and sound. So BFF Kate, no matter what goes on in that room of birth, just be happy when baby and momma come out smiling, beyond that, it's all just history, literally in your case.
Now with regards to this whole nanny thing. I am sure Kate will be catered too in whatever fashion she desires. It may be that she has a whole team of nannies to attend night awakenings or cover for feeds whilst momma brunches. I do not resent her this. If you can get help, take it. If you rest a little, then go for it. But I would warn against resting too much. Nightfeeds are the bane of any new momma's life, but, in my experience they are also optimal bonding time. They are beautiful. They are the time your little one is most desperately crying out for love and reassurance. And the presence of a nanny, or a person with a dummy / bottle, is never going to provide the all encompassing love and adoration that a tired, lullaby singing mother (or father) can summon up. So Kate, my love, be with your child, let the nannies sleep.
For many years now Kate has been not only the centre of her own and William's world, but also of the universe (more or less if the media coverage is anything to go by). Irrespective of fame or fortune, all of us without children, have been the centre of our own universes. Baby, but of course, changes that radically and unalterably forever. It's devastating to some I am sure. Nobody cares who you are anymore, they prefer to gawk at those cute little toes, and/or what baby is wearing, saying, doing. Did baby burp? Oh my gosh that commands the attention of crowds of onlookers like no West End show ever could. Mum, so resplendent in pregnancy, becomes invisible. People talk past you, they cut you off halfway through sentences to make gurgling goo goo noises at your sleeping baba. And guess what, it doesn't matter. Your gravity base has entirely shifted, and it makes utter sense. It's wonderful. Kate, you may even get away with a few bad hair days. Just ensure Junior is at your hip and you could even pull off knackered old leggings. Embrace it. Embrace the loss of identity, because your new identity as mother and beloved of your small child is far more empowering and astounding than the love of even a nation as large as America.
I have swayed away from too much momma advice here, in terms of how to treat a child. My book and my life is an example of attachment parenting. I co-sleep, I breast-feed till the cows come home (or not, human milk making far more sense to me). I cuddle and snuggle and pick baby up when she cries. I would never let her cry it out. I go against the advice of well meaning Grandma's and their 1980's power parenting wisdom, in the certainty that love cures all. My approach may be too hippy for some. Yet my girl is happy, confident and secure. She knows she has a home in her momma. So Kate, Catherine, darling momma to be, I hope you can be that home for your little one. Love her, snuggle her, kiss and caress her and by golly just go with your instinct. Your instinct is all. To avoid parenting regrets, do what is in your heart, even if Granny Lizzie has other, better ideas. Baby needs his momma, and you are it, forever. You make the decisions, from your gut, from your soul always, always, always.
Dear Poppyseed, A Soulful Momma's Pregnancy Journal by Alice Grist is out now!