Meghan Markle is pregnant. From the amount of news coverage it’s had, you’d think that either nobody had ever been pregnant before or that she’s pregnant in a new, fancy way, like she is going to birth a dragon or something.
(To be fair, if someone birthed a dragon and there hadn’t been any coverage of the pregnancy, it would be a real dropped ball. “We should have documented every step of this!” we’d cry. “This scientific near-impossibility was allowed to occur unobserved, and we’ve missed out on untold dragon-based knowledge.”)
Lately, people have been speculating that, based on her fairly large bump, the Duchess of Sussex must be having twins. People get excited about ideas like that, because she and Prince Harry are a super cute couple, and their baby is bound to be adorable, and the only thing cuter than an adorable baby is two adorable babies, right?
It’s just a bit simplistic. We’re looking at a slightly bigger-than-average baby bump and saying, with Neanderthal-like logic: “Big. Big means more. More than baby. Two… baby? Pretty lady have two baby!”
Pregnancy is very individual: some bumps sit high, some sit low. Some are tiny, compact things, some are colossal. Two expectant mums can be at exactly the same stage of pregnancy, and one might look like she’s had a large dinner, the other like she’s about to birth the moon.
Meghan is probably feeling really weird at the moment anyway. Her centre of gravity is shifting. Her feet might well be going nuts. She might be fidgeting all through the night, unable to sleep comfortably due to her changing shape.
She might have piles. We’re conditioned as a society to gasp at the thought of that, that a beautiful princess might have piles, but she might have piles.
And on top of that, she has a million cameras on her all the time and is never allowed to look anything less than perfect. Even if she feels absolutely grotty, she’s expected to dress magnificently and flash that million-dollar smile at all times. Imagine if she were pictured sitting knackered on a sofa in a dressing gown, watching Homes Under The Hammer and drinking whole milk straight from the bottle. People would somehow feel ripped off.
Obviously, there are a great many ways in which the Duchess of Sussex’s life is significantly easier than most people’s. She doesn’t need to worry about the impact parenthood will have on her career. Harry’s not going to have to work extra shifts so he can afford a bit of extra time off after the birth.
And, surrounded by security all the time, Meghan is unlikely to have strangers coming up and touching her belly uninvited, in the strange and unwelcome way people seem to think is okay.
However, she is going through this incredibly tiring and anxiety-inducing process with the world’s media doing the equivalent of jabbing her bump, shouting “LOOK HOW GIANT YOU ARE!” – and that can’t be much fun.
Before my (singular, normal-sized) daughter was born, my wife’s bump was very big and we got endless remarks about it, ranging from the mildly annoying to completely exhausting. Things like: “How many of them do you have in there?!”
In no other part of life is pointing at part of someone’s body and essentially going, “Holy shit, that’s enormous!” acceptable (not in public, anyway). And the general rule of “don’t touch someone unless they specifically want you to touch them” goes out of the window when people see a pregnant woman.
If or when Meghan doesn’t have twins, will that be seen as a letdown? Is all this speculation setting up a situation where Meghan and Harry “merely” having one baby will be seen as somehow doing it wrong? “Oh, just the one then”?
Endless speculation and scrutinising every inch of her body is something no new mum needs. And if the point of all of this media coverage is that people really like Meghan and can’t wait to see her beautiful child, maybe the nicest thing we can do is back off a bit and shut up for a while.