In the run up to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tomorrow there has been a lot of media interest in their relationship. Most recently the tabloid papers have been reporting that they are keen to start a family quickly after their wedding. So far so normal – how many times have we heard friends say “as soon as the wedding is over we are going to start trying for a baby”. This is especially true if the bride, like Meghan Markle, is in her late 30s.
But what if the fairytale doesn’t happen? What if the planned for baby doesn’t arrive to schedule? Or even at all? I know this scenario only too well, as this was me! We had a beautiful wedding and were then looking forward to starting a family together. Months ticked by and then “straight away” turned into “soon” turned into “we’re hoping” and ultimately into “we need help”.
This is a very common experience – statistics say 1 in 6 couples will have difficulties conceiving – but the troubling bit is it is not generally understood this way. There is still the cultural expectation that a baby will happen as planned and with no need of medical help. This means that those for whom it doesn’t happen that way often feel frustrated, ashamed and many even fall into deep depression.
Public speculation about the arrival of a new royal baby – the bookies are giving odds of 5/6 that Meghan Markle will be pregnant by the end of the year – only serves to fuel this fire. It is the media equivalent of your Auntie cornering you at the family BBQ and asking when she is going to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet – it’s excruciating and maddening. And, more than that, it just reinforces the dominant idea that pregnancy is there for the taking rather than acknowledging that it often isn’t that simple.
Fundamentally it is nobody else’s business when, and if, you want to have a baby but if we are going to talk about how people might be planning to grow their family then let’s do it in an intelligent and sensitive manner – acknowledging that often the road is a complex one and that people need support and understanding not intrusion.
I wish Prince Harry and Meghan Markle all the very best in their life together and the blessing of children if that is what they desire and, if it doesn’t happen just as they have planned, then I am always ready to help!