Friday, January 11th, 2013
The Queen of England officially announced Wednesday that under a new formal decree, should Kate Middleton’s new baby be a girl, she will hold the title of Princess.
Under the old decree of King George V, should the firstborn be a boy he would be given the title of Prince and referred to as “His Royal Highness,” while a girl would be called “Lady.” The Prince would be first in line to the throne, even if he was not the firstborn.
The announcement reads, “The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of royal highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honor.”
This step towards gender equality in the royal line of succession echoes the recent—and heavily supported—push by Parliament to amend the law disallowing a firstborn girl to succeed the throne. The Succession to the Crown Bill, if passed, will allow Kate’s new baby, regardless of gender, to be the heir as well as enjoy all royal titles.
The good news comes after the Duchess was recently hospitalized due to complications with hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness.
The palace has been keeping Kate’s due date under wraps, but by about week 18 she should find out whether she’s expecting a little Prince or Princess.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attending The Epsom Derby Meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey. 4th June 2011. 05/06/2011 via Shutterstock.com
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Friday, December 14th, 2012
Parents.com blogger Kristen Kemp’s husband, Johan Svenson, recounts the helplessness he felt watching his wife endure hyperemesis gravidarum—the same condition Kate Middleton is famously suffering—through two pregnancies.
Reading articles and blog posts about Kate Middleton’s medical situation—and the comments in response to those stories—brings back painful memories for me. But it also irritates me.
Seven years ago and several weeks into her first pregnancy, my wife Kristen was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). I didn’t know about HG then, but I quickly learned. It’s an illness taken seriously by exactly three people: the doctor, the patient, and her spouse. HG only affects 2 percent of pregnant women, so I don’t expect everyone to know about it, but comments I’ve read on the Internet—including my wife’s story on Parents.com—infuriate me. Commenters who suggest organic ginger tea as a solution are naïve; their comments should be prefaced with ‘I have never experienced hyperemesis; I have never known anyone who has; nor do I have any medical experience whatsoever.’ People who say things like “suck it up,” and “you should be happy you were able to get pregnant at all,” should try telling a schizophrenic that she’s lucky to hear voices in her head all day long. People have no comprehension of how serious this illness is.
I do. I remember being on my cell phone in a hurry to catch a flight. It was one of those moments I remember in crystal clear, high-definition detail. One of those moments that changes your life forever. Kristen, who’d just been to the doctor, called with news: “There are two of them.” “Two of what?” I asked. It was April 1, 2005, but this was no April Fool’s joke. Kristen was carrying twins.
While that was a shock, nothing would prepare us for what came next: the most trying period in her life, when she got hyperemesis gravidarum. The doctor told us the severity of the HG was likely due to carrying twins. Double the babies, double the hormones, double the nausea. Makes sense.
Nope. By Christmas 2006 we were pregnant again. The morning sickness arrived overnight, accompanied by the fear of having another set of twins. While we were relieved to find we were only having a singleton, we were equally surprised the HG seemed to be worse this time around. And it got a lot worse.
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Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Kristen Kemp, author of the Parents.com blog Mom Must Read, knows the torture the Duchess is experiencing right now. She had hyperemesis gravidarum—through two pregnancies—too. She shares her experiences:
I wouldn’t wish hyperemesis gravidarum even on evil people. Not on my former coworker who told our boss that I sucked and should be fired (and then stole my sweater); not on the girl who burned my eyebrow skin off last week during a wax; and not on the young woman who stole my Visa and charged $2,357 at Target. I would never hope for a royal like Kate Middleton to have hyperemesis, no matter how much I covet her clothes and her seats at the Olympics. But since Kate does have this nightmare illness through no ill will of mine, I am glad. While I ache when I think of her public suffering, I also feel vindicated. What I went through is difficult to explain, and most people don’t believe my condition was real. It was not all in my head—Kate is proof.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) tried to kill me during both of my pregnancies. I took gobs of medication, checked in for several stays at the hospital and, as a last resort, considered abortion at the suggestion of my ob-gyn. I could not eat or drink a thing, so I fought dehydration. Worse though, I was nauseous every second of the day. Imagine having food poisoning for 13 weeks straight. Vomiting offers no relief. Your stomach is an empty pit, so all you feel is acidic and painful gagging.
I am sorry if you’re eating right now.
I try not to use the words hyperemesis and morning sickness in the same sentence (minus this exception). The two conditions share one only one trait—they come on in early pregnancy. Otherwise, they are distant cousins, 100 times removed. Barfing your head off nonstop causes a ridiculous amount of physical and emotional pain.
The first time I got pregnant, I found out I was having twins, which meant double the hormones and an increased risk of HG. My doctor and I hoped I wouldn’t have hyperemesis again if I got pregnant with a singleton. So I did. And the second time, it was worse. At about 6 or 7 weeks, my sense of smell turned prophetic. I could sense food rotting in my husband’s stomach. I had to run out of Ikea because I couldn’t handle the odors of the shoppers. By week 7, all smells were intolerable, and even a whiff of sugary vanilla milkshake would send me over the edge. Garlic, coffee, and my toddlers’ diapers might as well have been explosive devices.
My husband made me a hyperemesis nest on the third-floor attic of our house. He dragged a mattress upstairs because I couldn’t stand the smell of him while he slept. He set up a TV that I could barely watch because the images made me dizzy. He gave me a bottle of Lysol to battle the evil that lurked in the air. He and the kids had to stay on the first floor eating fragrance-free cold sandwiches or going to restaurants. We spent thousands of dollars on babysitters who watched the twins during his work hours. I was useless.
I dove into a deep depression. My body emphatically hated being pregnant. I couldn’t hold down food, so I worried that I wasn’t nourishing my fetus. I couldn’t be anywhere near another person from Week 7 through Week 18, so I was lonely. I was so dehydrated that I started seeing bright colors and flames (dehydration can cause hallucinations), and there were crystals in my pee from the uric acid buildup.
Those were the signs that I had to go back to the hospital for IV fluids and nutrition. My husband and my ob-gyn took me seriously, but no one else did. In the maternity unit, nurses left me in the corner barfing for hours while they saw other patients. One told me I just needed to take ginger, remember how lucky I was to be pregnant, and eat ice chips. I wanted to puke on her—and I probably did. Did she really believe I hadn’t thought of those things a million times before?
My doctor gave me a prescription for Zofran, a drug used to ease nausea for people on chemo. It didn’t help the nausea, but I could keep down small bits of food—mainly Fritos—and watch TV. He ordered me to get a PICC line—a tube surgically inserted into a vein in my upper arm—so I could be hooked up to an IV bag 24 hours a day. Thank goodness for our health insurance that paid for all of this and also my daily home nurse. If only they had covered the sitters.
I fell in love with my IV bag.
I stopped contemplating abortion and started telling myself I could get through the second pregnancy. I’d already given birth to my twins, so I knew the absolute joy of hugging new babies. As I convalesced on the third floor, I repeated the mantra: New babies are fun to hug; new babies are fun to hug. And I watched the movie Garden State 17 times. I waited it out. By 18 weeks, the hyperemesis vanished as quickly as it had come on. I had an easy delivery with my baby son. I figured I had earned that much.
Taking care of a newborn was cake compared to living with hyperemesis, so I rocked at infancy. But my husband didn’t want me to rock too much. He said he’d go nuts if he had to live through another pregnancy, so he had a vasectomy within the month. He is smarter than I am, and that’s why I married him.
The more Kate Middleton pukes—I just read she was unwell again after her four-day stay in the hospital—the more people will sympathize with insanely sick pregnant women. We aren’t crazy. We don’t secretly hate our fetuses—a real comment I recently read. We aren’t making up our misery. I wish other women would’ve said, “God, that’s awful. I can’t imagine. Would it help if I invited your husband and kids over for dinner?” I needed to borrow DVDs and gossip magazines. But mostly I got saltine cracker advice and dirty looks when I barfed on the street.
I had a freak illness, but I was not a freak. Just ask Kate Middleton.
Image of Kate Middleton via Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
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Monday, December 3rd, 2012
The future heir to the English throne is already causing trouble—Kate Middleton has reportedly been hospitalized with severe morning sickness (also called hyperemesis gravidarum). While most pregnant women experience some of the nausea and vomiting that are thought to be associated with the surges in levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the first trimester, women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum far exceed the standard morning sickness that most women experience.
A diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum usually means that the pregnancy has brought on serious vomiting and nausea that doesn’t improve with changes to the diet and continues beyond the 12th week of pregnancy. It can cause severe dehydration and an inability to keep any food down—a serious issue when you’re trying to eat for two.
Likely, Kate’s been hospitalized so they can give her IV fluids to treat dehydration, and medications that can quell the nausea and vomiting. That’s the standard of treatment for any woman who gets this diagnosis.
Hopefully, with a little time and TLC, Kate’ll be on the mend soon—many women who develop severe morning sickness often find that it disappears on its own later in the pregnancy.
Photo: Kate Middleton by Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
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