Raising Richmond: When to tell people…

So you probably heard that Prince William and his lovely wife Kate are expecting a baby. Wait! Don’t go! I promise, I’m not here to gush over what is surely to be the most dignified, classy, and incredibly well dressed infant of all time. I bring them up because…well…I kind of feel bad for the Duchess and Duke right now.

So you probably heard that Prince William and his lovely wife Kate are expecting a baby.

Wait! Don’t go! I promise, I’m not here to squeal and gush over what is surely to be the most dignified, classy, and incredibly well dressed infant (possibly person) of all time. I like to save all that jazz for Twitter or Gchat, so hit me up if you’re interested in partaking in a lot of joyful SHOUTING and the gratuitous use of Emojis.

I bring them up because…well…I kind of feel bad for the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge right now.

Obviously not because they’re having a baby.1 And also not just because her every vom is subject to public scrutiny, or that their pregnancy announcement will likely forever be connected to a woman taking her own life.

In case you hadn’t heard, a couple of DJs from an Australian radio station placed a prank call to King Edward VII Hospital where Kate was receiving treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum in an attempt to get the scoop on her condition. By pretending to by Prince Charles and the Queen, they convinced nurse Jacintha Saldanha to transfer their call through to another nurse caring directly for Kate. A few days after these dopes shared a recording of the call—thus attracting attention across the globe–Ms. Saldanha was found dead from an apparent suicide.2 I know.

While those are undoubtedly horrible things to deal with, I can’t help but feel for them for another, more personal reason. According to reports,3 Kate and William only announced the pregnancy because her condition required hospitalization; she’s not even 12 weeks along, AKA the point in time when many women decide it’s safe to starting “telling people.”

In some respects, disclosing what is ultimately very happy news was probably the right move for the couple. I mean, can you imagine the rabid speculation if they hadn’t? Spilling the beans likely spared Kate and William from fighting off rumors of nervous breakdowns or eating disorders or drug use or whatever else people might have otherwise assumed.

Ugh, but still. Early pregnancy is such an emotionally charged time; it’s terrifying and thrilling, sweet and scary. And considering how increasingly intrusive people become as your pregnancy progresses, it saddens me to think that any woman would have to bring other people into that experience before she really, really wants to.

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Five years ago (this coming March), I stood in a bathroom stall at my old office building out in the West End4 and watched the second of two pink lines enthusiastically pop up on a First Response pregnancy test.


Hand to God, that’s what I actually said. I’m not proud, but there it is.

I quickly tucked the test into my bag, hightailed it to my office, and shut the door.

And there I sat. Lights off. Computer humming. Clock ticking.
And I sat.
And sat.
And sat a little bit more.

Sure, my lack of movement was partly due to shock; I mean, it’s quite sobering when you want something for your entire life and it actually happens. But more than anything, I wanted to do everything I could to preserve that moment.

Right then and there, I was the only person in the entire world who knew that baby existed. No one else had a clue—not my husband, not my friends, not family, no one. For that brief moment in time, it was just me and the baby…and it was incredible. Intimate. Sacred in a way.5 I knew it was a feeling I would have exactly once in my life—the first moments after finding out I was becoming a mother for the first time6—and I wanted to soak in it for at least a little while.

Of course, within the hour I’d called my husband7 and alerted a couple friends via IMs consisting of the words “Two liiiiiiiines!!!!!!” We told our families and close friends over the next couple days. I cracked and shared the news with my boss and co-workers soon thereafter, mostly because the idea of hiding morning sickness wasn’t too appealing.

Things were made “official”, I suppose, once I shared the news with the Internets right after my first OB appointment; I was just over nine weeks along at that point. Sure, we opted to fill people in earlier than others might have, but it was our call to make and our news to share. And it was done on our terms.

That’s how it should be (or, at least, how I wish it could be) for every woman, for every couple, regardless of circumstances–royalty, celebrity, or just a regular lady peeing on a pregnancy test in some random office park bathroom.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. When and how did you tell people you were expecting? Were any of you forced (due to illness or gossipy friends and family) to share the news earlier than you hoped? And while we’re at it, should public figures expect to lose the right to privacy on these sorts of things?

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  1. See previous mentions of SHOUTING and Emoji-use. 
  2. Granted, no official statement has been made declaring Saldanha’s suicide a direct result of this prank call, but one can imagine that the public mockery this poor woman endured would drive most people to extremes. 
  3. I have a friend who was locked and loaded with the perfect response to strangers unable to resist the urge to touch her pregnant belly: she couldn’t wait to just reach out and pat theirs in return. 
  4. It was 10:30 in the morning. When I did the math and realized I might be pregnant AT THAT VERY MOMENT, I had no choice but sneak out to Kroger that very minute and buy a test. I’m lucky I didn’t get fired. 
  5. My husband’s robot heart is bleeping all over the place right now. “DOES NOT COMPUTER AROOOOGAH AROOOGAH POWER DOWN ERRRRRRNNNN…BOOP.” 
  6. That’s not to say that I would feel any less excited should we ever get pregnant again, but, well, firsts are firsts. 
  7. His response was, “That’s great! Ok, I’m in a meeting, can I call you back in a sec?” Before you get huffy on my behalf, just know that this is how we do things. Right after we got married, our first words to each other were, “Hey! How’s your day been?” So it was perfect. 

Photo by: LE▲H.nicor

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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