My daughter was born the day after Prince George. The woman I shared a room with at the hospital had her photos taken for the newspaper because she gave birth on the same day, at the same time, as Kate Middleton. I was so relieved that wasn’t me! But sharing a pregnancy with the Duchess of Cambridge was an interesting experience. Whenever I met someone new, they invariably mentioned this connection. ‘If Kate has a boy, they could get married!’ was a frequent (yet rather far-fetched) comment.
Then, when Kate announced her second pregnancy, I started to get a different, but not unexpected question: ‘So, when are you having your second?’ I laugh and dismiss the question, ‘Baby two isn’t even on my radar.’ Ridiculously, I feel like I’m losing a race – a baby race against Kate Middleton. Yes, THAT ridiculous.
When I look back on the first weeks and months of motherhood, I remember telling everyone who’d ask that yes, I want many, many more babies, and soon. Those days were characterised by three-hour naps, Baby Bjorn café excursions, and ‘polite’ nappies, and punctuated by visiting friends and relatives bearing gifts and ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. No wonder I felt capable of managing numerous infants at once – the sleepy, gorgeous and powder-scented kind.
Nowadays, I can’t move more than 30 centimetres in any direction without a little hand grabbing my skirt or scrabbling to hold on to my leg. The washing baskets (clean and dirty) are always overflowing, the floor is littered with toys, and the dogs are whining for a walk. I can’t even imagine how I would manage a toddler and a newborn.
What’s Kate’s secret? Predictably, a full-time nanny. Nanny Maria Borrallo cooks and takes care of little George, along with the mundane aspects of running a household. Kate has time for the gym (to prepare her body for the onslaught of pregnancy and childbirth), eats healthy home-cooked meals (presumably), and sleeps 8 hours per night uninterrupted by little George (when Nanny Maria is on night duty).
On the surface, a full-time nanny sounds like a heavenly arrangement, but, when I really think about it, I wouldn’t choose this for my family. Having a child has completely changed my world – never have I been attached to someone literally every minute of the day (and sometimes all night), I’ve never lain awake in bed for hours in a horribly uncomfortable position to avoid disturbing someone else, and I’ve never felt such an urgency about housework before, knowing that if I don’t keep it under control, the following day will be a disaster.
But it’s not just the practical – being with my little person 24/7 means I’m the only person in the world who can understand her unique and subtle language. I know that ‘boo’ means ‘book’, ‘buh’ means ‘bird’, and ‘tet’ means ‘teeth’.
Does Kate have this understanding with George? I guess I will never know.
But for me, ALL the aspects of being a mum are as important as each other – even the challenging ones. When I have to go to work, I think about my kid all day, and can’t wait to get home to reattach to my little clinging barnacle!
When I see a pregnant mum with a toddler, I’m struck with a strange mix of emotions including respect, awe, empathy, relief (that I’m not the pregnant one) and jealousy.
Maybe one day I will follow in Kate’s multiple-baby footsteps, but for now, those footprints are just too far apart for my short little legs.