They say there is a glow that new moms have, both before the baby is born and after.
But anyone who has given birth might actually beg to differ. You are swollen. Your ankles turn into cankles, feet so swollen it’s hard to put on any shoes other than flip-flops. Even then, the swollen digits both prebirth and post look abnormal for any human being. And the swelling can happen in the face too, which, combined with hormonal breakouts postbirth, meant my face looked a lot like it did when I was 13 after each of my children were born.
Motherhood is an amazing, wonderful thing, and giving birth to each of my three children were three of the best days of my life.
I had a photographer there to document my first moments with my babies. But would I want those first minutes or hours broadcast to the world? No way.
I left the hospital two days after giving birth. The first time around, I was eager to get home, even considering leaving the hospital a day early. After the second child, I took my time, tried to enjoy the assistance that came with a hospital stay, not afraid to send my newborn to the nursery to catch up on some very much needed sleep. With the third child, I gladly would have accepted another day in the hospital had it been available - I knew well what chaos awaited me with two other young children at home.
While I had makeup on and had my hair recently washed and styled each time I went into labor, leaving the hospital was another story. Mothers are battered and bruised, wearing what feel like adult diapers, having been through the most amazing yet most traumatic physical transformations. You are sore, exhausted and desperately need sleep.
It has amazed me, in recent years, how poised and perfect Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has appeared when she’s stepped out of London’s Lindo Wing only hours after the births of her three children. She has stood in front of a slew of cameras, her hair perfectly blown out, in full makeup, standing in stilettos, with a newborn baby in tow.
It’s an unobtainable ideal for many non-royal moms. (Although, having a hairstylist and makeup artist on call in maternity wards sounds like an excellent idea.)
In March, with another royal baby on the way, the company Babyfrida paid for a full-page ad/letter in The New York Times to Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, titled “An Open Letter to the Royal Mom-To-Be.” In the letter, Chelsea Hirshhorn, CEO of Fridababy, asked Meghan not do the media appearance so soon after giving birth.
“Sure your blowout will be perfect for your hospital step photo-op, but people will be opining on all the wrong things instead of having an honest conversation about what women go through during birth and immediately thereafter,” Hirshhorn wrote. “In my line of work we tackle the side of childbirth that won’t get as much airtime. Women are breaking down barriers left and right, so why is it still considered taboo to talk about the raw aftermath of what your body just went through ... Skip the pomp and circumstance of the baby parade. Let the headlines instead read: ‘Prince Brings Royal Baby Out Because Mom Is in Bed Sitting on a Pack of Ice.’”
Unlike other royal moms, when Meghan gave birth last week, it was not at the Lindo Wing. There was no royal baby photo shoot in front of the clamoring media just outside the hospital doors hours after the birth. Instead, the public had to wait two full days to get a glimpse of the baby, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, seventh in line to the British throne.
And when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped out at Windsor Castle for their meeting with the press with baby in tow on May 8, Meghan was glowing. Her hair looked great, and, amazingly, she was in stilettos and dressed in white.
I can’t help but think there are other moms out there silently thanking her - for taking the time needed postbirth, and breaking out of royal tradition, too.
Motherhood is an amazing thing. Happy Mother’s Day.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.