Editorial: Pregnancy in perspective
Have you heard?
Kate Middleton has hyperemesis gravidarum. That means that she's not only pregnant - cue the women's magazines crowing "We knew it!" - but very sick. So sick, she was hospitalised.
Had you heard of hyperemesis gravidarum before this week?
Unless you'd experienced it yourself, or knew someone who had, the answer to that is, probably not.
Now that someone royally famous has been diagnosed with this debilitating sickness, public awareness will improve in a way no advertising campaign, leaflet or soundbite could hope to achieve.
And all the women around the world who suffered throughout their pregnancies will be raising their eyebrows at the level of interest shown, and comparing it with their own experiences, which, according to some commentators, involved a fair dollop of guilt and unhelpful advice about dry crackers and ginger.
But now, news media are breathlessly outlining the symptoms, discussing the treatment, quoting specialists saying the condition is "slightly more common with twins" (cue headline: "Twins for Wills and Kate?").
It's all a bit over the top really, isn't it? And you'll note it's me writing this editorial, not one of my male colleagues, which presumably makes it okay for me to say that. My specific qualifications include a) being female and b) having experienced pregnancy.
Because, women get pregnant. Some sail through their pregnancies and some get a bit of morning sickness, and some get really, really sick.
The only difference here is that this pregnant woman is famous. And beautiful. And royal. And the baby that's not long conceived will be third in line to the throne. Bookies are already offering odds on the name. When, I suspect, the parents-to-be - having been forced into going public earlier than they wanted - will just be hoping that Kate gets better and that the baby is OK.
We tut-tutted at the antics of the Australian DJs who put on appallingly bad British accents and were shocked when they were actually put through to a nurse, who updated them on Kate's condition. But while we didn't really approve, we listened to the recording of the call and had a laugh.
So why the fascination? Could it be that there's an element of mean-spiritedness? That the fairytale (romance, wedding, pregnancy on cue) has become a nightmare of vomiting?
I hope not. I hope most of us are wishing Kate well. Because after all, she's a 30-year-old woman, expecting her first baby, and, at the moment, probably feeling sick and scared.
But can we just leave it at that now? Forty weeks of breathless blow-by-blow accounts of Kate's condition, Wills' reaction ("Prince William felt able to smile for the first time in more than 24 hours") would be enough to send anyone reaching for the bowl.
The Timaru Herald