Culture of Death, Evangelization, motherhood, pregnancy, Pro Life

An open letter to the Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement of her third pregnancy

September 5, 2017

Dear Kate,

(Can I call you that? I feel like I know you since I follow your fashion account on Twitter. Or, rather, the person who stalks the fashion rags and reposts effortlessly elegant shots of you in that stunning, understated classic signature style of yours, whether you’re caught in 3 inch heels standing on a tarmac in South Africa or kneeling to reprimand an errant 3 year old in a perfectly chic blazer. But, I digress, the point of this tangent being: I admire you to the point of familiarity.)

Maybe it’s because you’re an everygirl’s princess, a lot like your late mother in law. (And while I know you’re not technically a princess yet, it’s tempting to project my childhood Disney dreams onto your gorgeous, growing family.)

I know you face a lot of scrutiny in the press, whether it’s for looking “too perfect” or for being adorably “just like the rest of us” for daring to bare an hours-fresh postpartum bump in each of your previous hospital-step photo ops. It takes guts to face a global press corp at a mere 6 hours postpartum, let alone 6 weeks. And girl, if you want to get your hair blown out before appearing on the cover of every rag and tabloid in Great Britain, power to you.

The reality is, you’ve married onto the world stage by marrying into the royal family, and you seem to shoulder the mantel of responsibility with grace. That you’ve chosen to make mental health one of the most public focuses of your personal advocacy work speaks volumes about your character; it’s not always easy or even civil to discuss mental health and the lack of care for those who suffer mental illness, especially in the public arena. But you seem no stranger to criticism.

I know that pregnancy is an enormous sacrifice, and that each of your pregnancies have been complicated by the presence of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a serious and debilitating complication that can result in hospitalization and real trauma to the mother’s body, mind, and spirit. I know there are those who have scoffed at you for subjecting yourself to another nine months of “torture” (because I’ve read the comments online) just for the sake of another little bundle of royal needs. One intrepid Twitter genius quipped “there goes the rainforest” in reaction to your joyous news, as if 3 children were some hideous burden to lay upon the shoulders of the environment. As if a human person could possibly be reduced to the sum of their projected carbon footprint. As if a family of 5 were a ghastly vestige of the past, best swept into the annuls of history as we move boldly forward in our “enlightened” view of the human person as nothing more than a collection of electrical impulses, nerves, and appetites for consumption.

But you seem to know better. While chasing around two little toddlers, you’ve probably recognized the infinite value and capacity for love and innovation contained within the spirit of a single human person. The truth that no matter how many times you open your heart up to another little soul, it is not only your body that expands to accommodate them.

It is no small thing to bring forth new life in a culture that seems to be deteriorating all around us, to whisper that humble and magnificent fiat with your very body. In a world of increasing strife and violence, it’s easy enough to give in to fear and uncertainty, perhaps choosing to play it safe or decrying the sensibility of bringing forth innocent children into a place that, frankly, we’ve made a mess of.

But you’re a mom. So you’ve had a peek behind the curtain. You know that these children of ours are worth it, and that the future belongs not to those of us who rule from on high with money, power, and prestige (though you surely posses all three) but that it actually rests securely in the hands of our little ones. Perhaps you’ve come to the same conclusion that I have: that the only real, lasting impact we stand to make on the world lies in the intellectual and moral formation of our sons and daughters, in instilling in them a love and appreciation for truth, goodness, and beauty. That all the strife and suffering that exists in this weary world of ours cannot possibly be eradicated in our lifetimes, but could perhaps be in theirs.

Isn’t that always the hope? And isn’t bringing another child into the world, not in spite of but precisely because of the grim circumstances of it all, the most profoundly hope-filled thing we can do?

I know you’re going to be under the microscope for the next 9 months, even more intensely than you normally are. And I know there will be discussions on your hairstyle, on how big or small or perfectly round or disappointingly flat your belly is. I know whether you choose to convalesce for 24 hours before stepping out for photos or appear bright eyed and blown-out a mere hours after delivery, you will be scrutinized and judged by a sometimes unfeeling public.

But let mine be one small voice among many offering you congratulations, prayers for health and comfort in the face of hardship, and sincere gratitude for the courageous – yep, courageous – act of bringing forth new life in a culture that despises the light, and in a world that prefers comfort to courage.

It is no small thing to bring a new source of light into a world that loves darkness.

(And P.s. idk where you do most of your maternity shopping, but Target’s got a killer new maternity jean that you might want to check out if you ever feel like slumming it, sartorially speaking.)

Yours sincerely,

An American mum

photo credit:Twitter @RoyalFamily

24 Comments

  • Reply Drusilla Barron September 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Lovely!

    By the way, Kate is a princess. Her official title is “Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus,” but Duke and Duchess are their highest ranking titles so it takes precedence under most circumstances. (Prince/princess doesn’t always outrank duke/duchess.)

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing September 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      I thought so too, but my (vv scholarly) research led me to believe…otherwise? (http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/a33327/royal-etiquette-stop-saying-princess-kate/) This article explained she’ll only get the big P once the Queen Mother passes, and that even then it will come after her name, and not before it? I’m no anglophile though, so I could definitely be wrong!

      • Reply Jenna September 6, 2017 at 5:57 pm

        She can’t be called “Princess Catherine.” She can be called “Princess William” but that’s just weird.

        • Reply Rann September 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm

          Her mother in law is the Queen, Elizabeth II The queen mother is the wife of the late king, whose child is king of queen. Queen Elizabeth ‘s mom died a few years ago

          • Jenny Uebbing September 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

            Her mother in law was Diana…

  • Reply Jane September 5, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Lovely, lovely posting!

  • Reply JR's mom September 6, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Thanks so much for this post, Jenny. Battling morning sickness 4th time around right now, I *heart* this so much. But would you mind if I asked two questions…

    1) Does it matter that Kate + William may not be NFP users? Should we overlook the fact that they may have used contraception (past-present-future..?) to plan their children? Bringing in new life is great, but as Catholics we don’t blindly prioritize new life bringing by sacrificing sanctity of life + sex, right?

    2) Your beautifully written paragraph – “Isn’t that always the hope? And isn’t bringing another child into the world, not in spite of but precisely because of the grim circumstances of it all, the most profoundly hope-filled thing we can do?” – seems to neglect the cross of abstinence that so many NFP couples are facing, lonely. I understand the juxtaposition you intend here is the culture of life vs culture of death. But the lack of new life may be because of circumstances so grim that the couple is in prayerful, painful abstinence. If Kate practiced abstinence to indefinitely postpone pregnancy because HG was just too much for her, she’s no less of our hero, right?

    And goes without saying, thanks so much for your blog. I think your blog is truly outstanding, because it addresses all spectrums of NFP (esp infertility and abstinence!!) and tackles the toughest stuff.

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing September 6, 2017 at 7:05 am

      she’d be no less of a hero, but we mustn’t compare our crosses with other people’s, or judge the state of their hearts. Since the royal couple aren’t Catholic, it seems unlikely to me that they practice NFP (though not impossible) but even being wrong on the issue of contraception doesn’t negate the eternal value of bringing a new human soul into the world. (Nor does the cross of abstinence due to circumstances or illness somehow pale in comparison. We should celebrate life when we see it shining out in this darkening and confused culture.

    • Reply Kati September 6, 2017 at 9:23 am

      JR’s Mom, I think we should be hesitant to analyze whether anyone “may have used contraception,” especially when the news is of a pregnancy and should be celebrated. Unless Kate wants to weigh in here in the combox (which would be TOTALLY AWESOME), none of us is going to know whether they use contraception, or NFP, or just….let come what may. Clearly, based on the third pregnancy, they are living at least a little contrary to the culture. Should we frown upon them because of what they “might” do, instead of celebrating the joy of this new life and the light it brings? I think not.

      • Reply JR's mom September 8, 2017 at 1:10 am

        Thanks Kati, thanks Jenny. Yes, no matter what, life must be celebrated! But shouldn’t the decision to postpone life through abstinence, be celebrated as much? I wrote the post hoping that we see more discussion of the other side of NFP, the even MORE counter-cultural aspect in my opinion – prolonged abstinence, aka “sexless (times of) marriage.” Perhaps those of us with “more than 2” feel like we’re in minority. Well, at least we’ve found each other here 🙂 The real minority I’ve found are couples who are on the brink of leaving NFP due to prolonged abstinence, because there really is so little help out there. That you have more than 3 kids is obvious – that you haven’t had marital relations in 4 years is not. And if all that we do as NFP is gushing at pregnancies and births while keeping relatively silent about those who are avoiding pregnancies a-la-NFP with difficulty, what is our message?
        I feel that the NFP community tends to display more concrete support for those who choose to procreate, rather than abstain. But they are two equally important poles. Yes, congratulating and celebrating a pregnancy is easier than congratulating and celebrating the lack of pregnancy due to NFP-abstinence. As much as I love my big growing family, I think if we’re serious about promoting NFP, it’s gotta involve more support on prolonged abstinence and involve families struggling to keep their families small through NFP (instead of contraception, vasectomies and abortion). Unless we do that, folks will continue to think, NFP= big family promotion. Which it is not.
        By the way, I don’t think having more than 2 kids is the equivalent of counter-cultural. An NFP-by-the-book couple can still have 2 or 1 surviving children, or babies in heaven. The abstinence is what makes NFP counter-cultural, not the number of kids. And NFP may have counter-cultural aspects, but we would be selling ourselves short by overlooking so many aspects of NFP that would be totally in line with popular culture nowdays. The “natural” aspect of it, for instance, is what gets my organic-loving, down-to-earth friends hooked in the first place (and TOB follows..). Let’s not focus so much on how NFP is counter-cultural unless we’re talking abstinence here. There are many countries in the developing world in which the average family size exceeds 5, but we don’t go out of our ways to celebrate and identify with their counter-cultural ways, do we?

        • Reply Jenny Uebbing September 8, 2017 at 7:14 am

          JR’s mom, if you’ve never read my blog before, then welcome to the discussion. If you go into the archives you’ll find about a hundred posts about NFP and plenty on abstinence. Thanks for stopping by.

        • Reply Daisy September 8, 2017 at 8:03 am

          If a couple is abstinent for 4 married years for the sake of NFP, they may be doing it wrong. A couple only needs to abstain for a few days per cycle to avoid pregnancy.

          In fact, according to Catholic morality, it is proper and good for husband and wife to be regularly engaging in the sexual act.

  • Reply Mary Binns September 6, 2017 at 4:15 am

    This royal family, especially Duchess Kate, is the epitome of what any family should be. I see the vulgar comments and the rumors swirling around your lives. Have courage – you can rest assured that the more that you do right, the more the media today will try to disparage you. May God bless you and remember to always hold tight to each other.

  • Reply Kathy September 6, 2017 at 5:23 am

    I wrestle with this topic, so I appreciate the opportunity to read clear and sure opinions like yours. Part of me wants to believe that population doesn’t matter. But I wonder why more emphasis isn’t put on caring for the children who are already here, and who are without homes. I think it’s an equally, perhaps even stronger, light-filled witness to the world to adopt (especially after already having created new life/lives) and that doing so is indicative of a living faith, centered in the world we’ve been given, as it is right now.

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing September 6, 2017 at 7:07 am

      I’m sorry you feel that an adopted child somehow has a more beautiful witness to offer to the world than a biological one. I see the point you’re trying to make, but I think it’s muddied with population control propaganda. A child is only and always a blessing, no matter the circumstances of their conception and birth. It’s we adults who muck things up. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

      • Reply Kathy September 6, 2017 at 7:36 am

        I agree that a child is always and only a blessing, and I don’t at all feel an adopted child is a more beautiful witness. I believe such a child is an equally beautiful and blessed one, and that children without loving homes are equally deserving of our consideration when inspired to expand (expand) our families. Though it’s impossible to know, and no one’s place to judge, I like to imagine that those with means do take the opportunity to explore the epidemic of unwanted children before making their decision (no matter what they choose in the end).

  • Reply Mel September 6, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Not everyone is suited to adopt. Not everyone is able to conceive. As a member of an immediate and extended family populated with both adopted and biological children, I emphatically concur that every child is a blessing.

    • Reply BridgetAnn September 7, 2017 at 9:04 am

      I used to work for the pro-life movement. Our organization’s primary work was chastity promotion, seen as the solution for (most) of the evil of abortion. Is there still a need to be “on the front lines” sidewalk counseling, offering real compassion and material help to women in crisis? Absolutely. Been there. An adoption network for those ‘unwanted’ children? Definitely. Political work to change the laws? Of course. But not everyone can do everything.

      Are there families out there being called to adopt unwanted children in the world? Definitely yes. But I’d venture to say that most families are called to be open to life, according to their capacity/discernment- speaking as someone currently experiencing ‘sub-fertility’, so not intending to open up the fertility discussion at the moment- and raise their children in the love of all that is Good, True and Beautiful. Cultivating future generations of virtuous, thoughtful individuals is foundational for a resolution of the ‘unwanted children’ problem – and many other evils- at the root.

  • Reply Nica September 6, 2017 at 7:51 am

    This was an interesting viewpoint to read. Two small notes that occurred to me – the Duchess has never been to South Africa (I have a keen interest in her and am South African so I know :-)) And I think the comment about the rainforest was probably referring to how much paper will be used writing about this pregnancy and child. Obviously that isn’t her fault, but I think that’s probably what was meant more than about the carbon footprint of another person.

  • Reply Kathy September 6, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Regardless of the population control debate, and quite apart from it..Mother Teresa was and is an exceptionally “strong witness” not because she devoted her life to those with shelters over their heads and loved ones surrounding them. (She also celebrated new life, no matter how a child came into this world. But she is no a saint because of the latter)

  • Reply Erica September 6, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Yesterday I read a comment that one woman had made about Catherine. This woman basically said that Catherine is a great disappointment because she is pregnant, Again, and she is basically just a stay-at-home mom. Such a statement made me want to immediately write a letter to the Duchess and tell her,basically everything that you just wrote—though you said it far more eloquently. Thank you for this piece, I wish she would read it.

  • Reply Evelyn September 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    I just love how so many mothers (and, fathers!) are bringing this up for conversation – in a good way! It’s a delight to read that the royal family doesn’t “need” another child in terms of the queen/king future, but yet they have decided to continue to grow their family. Although I am sure that Kate receives much help after the birth of her child(ren), she is still the only one who can carry it. Despite her sickness, she still chooses to! She chooses life over suffering, and it is so incredibly encouraging for mothers to witness! It reminds me of a scene from the crown, when Elizabeth is being told what the role of the royal family is – to bring hope to the people!

  • Reply Michael Checkley September 7, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Catherine is a royal princess as earlier noted. She is Princess William of Wales. Not strange…a married woman is often called Mrs William Smith. Same principle. Her mother in law is dead – Diana, Princess of Wales.
    Her father-in-law is Prince Charles the Prince of Wales. He will be the next king.
    She is by her marriage a duchess. She takes that title as does her husband for their style. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
    There is no Queen Mother. She died over 15 years ago.

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