Kate Middleton teaches the media about labor

The royal baby's birthwatch was a reminder that birthing a human being takes a TV-unfriendly amount of time

Topics: Kate Middleton, Prince Williams, Catherine, duchess of cambridge, Media Criticism,

Kate Middleton teaches the media about laborBritain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. (Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)

Although she’s apparently “brilliant” for “being able to deliver a boy,” we can’t let Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge completely off the hook for her recent performance in popping out a royal heir. In a world that moves at the speed of 140 characters, the former Kate Middleton offered a labor that, in contrast, proceeded at the pace of an Andy Warhol movie. How very inconvenient.

From the somehow simultaneously bored yet berserk coverage of the past few days, you’d get the impression that no one in the media had ever actually witnessed or experienced the time-consuming, complicated process of bringing a tiny human into the world. Instead, beginning in the days before Kate’s alleged due date and culminating during the interminable hours after the announcement she’d started labor but before the news of the birth of her son, you’d have thought that the sum of planetary knowledge regarding childbirth came from TV shows and Robin Williams movies.

On Fox News Monday morning, Martha MacCallum irritably noted that she’d been waiting “about a week” outside London’s St. Mary’s hospital but added the hope that Kate “could be moving along quite quickly.” She also nonsensically added that Princess Diana had labored for sixteen hours, speculating on “whether or not that will have any impact on what we see here.” (Hint: Why on earth would it?) CBS likewise impatiently reported that the “Great Kate Wait” was at last drawing to a close. ABC brought in an obstetric expert to answer George Stephanopoulos’s exasperated question, “How long is this gonna take?” and ballpark, I kid you not, how efficiently the young prince might navigate the duchess’ pelvis. And Huffington Post devoted a feature to “what you have to budget for,” timewise, for the thing to finally be over. Gosh, you guys, this all must have been so hard for you.

You Might Also Like

For future reference, members of the media, a woman’s body is not a microwave oven. You don’t just set it for 40 weeks and expect her to push out a human when the timer goes ding. With my firstborn, I woke up in the pre-dawn hours on a Monday with contractions. The baby was born at 6:30 in the evening. On Tuesday. And with my second, I dutifully trotted off to my ob/gyn when I began having contractions. The doctor measured my dilation and effacement and told me it’d likely be a few more hours. My daughter was born ten days later, two weeks past her due date. Earlier this month, Erin Matson wrote a terrific piece on her labor that likewise spanned days, describing the contractions that “play by the rules of when you are supposed to go to the hospital” and then abate. And in “How to Be a Woman,” Caitlin Moran served up a harrowing, stunning account of the epic adventure of the birth of her first child, a tale with a happy ending but a terrific, ghastly amount of effort in the arrival.

As Alison Turkos noted Monday, “I’m wondering with the ‘royal baby on the way’ headline lasting for so long if people will begin to realize just how long labor can be.” Birth is not always some tidy, quick, soundbite-ready event. It doesn’t happen in the last five minutes of a 22-minute sitcom. It’s often lengthy and downright boring for most of the parties involved, especially those who aren’t groaning in agony. That’s why it’s called “labor” and not “BOOM! There’s your kid.” And when they’re being born, babies don’t know yet that in this life we’re eternally supposed to be hurrying up — especially if there’s an otherwise slow news day.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...