The good news and the bad news for the Duchess of Cambridge

A couple of weeks ago, I said to my sister, “Kate’s pregnant,” referring to the Duchess of Cambridge.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“Because,” I told her, “the British press was filled with daily stories about her, showing her going her and there, and always talking about her perfect style.  Suddenly, though, she’s vanished.  She’s not showing up anywhere.  so I’m betting that she’s pregnant and suffering from morning sickness.”

I was right, not only about the pregnancy, but also about the morning sickness:

The acute morning sickness suffered by the Duchess of Cambridge causes nausea and vomiting for up to five months of pregnancy – or, in rare cases, until the baby is born.

Known as hyperemesis gravidarum, it  afflicts one pregnancy in 50 and is much more serious than the nausea commonly experienced by expectant mothers.

The condition can lead to severe dehydration and puts both mother and baby at risk of being deprived of essential nutrients.


Sufferers can be left vomiting up to 30 times a day, with exhausting and hazardous consequences. They cannot eat or drink without retching and may lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight, which can trigger a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine known as ketosis as the body tries to compensate for lack of food by mouth.

Hospital treatment for these women is essential, as without intravenous feeding and fluids they are at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated.

That was me during both my pregnancies.  As I would tell anyone who would listen, Charlotte Bronte died from hyperemesis gravidarum.  Fortunately for my pregnancies and my health, I was able to benefit from Zofran, a medicine created for people undergoing chemo and radiation.  While I was beyond miserable 24/7, for more than nine months, I didn’t throw up so much that I had to be hospitalized.

Sadly, this misery was nothing new to me.  As a young woman on the Pill, I also suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, since the Pill tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant.  It took over a year for the doctors to stop telling me I was neurotic and start connecting my 24/7 vomiting to the Pill’s toxic effect on my body.  I therefore never got any medicine to treat the nausea. During that very long year, I lost over 20 pounds off an already small frame, and my cumulative GPA plummeted by 12 points.  That same year, one of my friends almost died from a blood clot brought about by the Pill.

You can understand, therefore, why I view the Pill with deep, deep suspicion and think it’s unconscionable the way the Leftists in government and in the medical establishment want to give it to young women like candy.  The same people who rant against cigarettes are totally copacetic about something that has the potential to be just as, if not more, harmful than tobacco.

I got one more side-effect from hyperemesis gravidarum — it wore me out.  I was younger the three times I was so sick, and had fairly good physical and emotional reserves.  I never missed a day of school or a day of work despite the fact that I was driving the porcelain school bus between five and twenty times a day (and night).  I had goals and I had my pride.  Now, though, when I’m old enough that I should have deeply engrained discipline, I don’t.  If I like it, I do it.  If if I must do it, I will do it.  And otherwise, I find it hard to motivate myself.  This is especially so when I get sick to my stomach.  I can power through pain, but I can no longer power through nausea.

I wish Kate much luck.  She’ll need it.

Let’s take a break and think of lovely things

I want to talk about Kate Middleton.  She is, in my humble opinion, an exceptionally lovely young woman.  Her father-in-law may have chosen his wife badly, but her husband did a fine job.  To begin with, she and Prince William genuinely seem to like each other, which is a rarity in royal relationships.  She’s also take to her professional responsibilities like a duck takes to water, showing a lot more class than many of those born to the purple.  And, as I said, she’s lovely:

To add to her undoubted physical beauty, Kate has a lovely air about her. She looks wholesome and, whenever she’s fulfilling her royal duties, she seems honored to have the opportunity to see the things she sees and meet the people she meets.  There’s always a look of wonderment about her, which is very attractive.

So, contrary to my usual feeling when celebrities get caught with their pants down or, in Kate’s case, with their shirts off, I am not experience any schadenfreude at her humiliation (something that she’s also handling with grace).  With most celebrities, one feels that, since they spend their entire lives courting the camera, they can scarcely complain when it doesn’t always work out. Also, one often gets the feeling that the celebrity pictures are like the pictures of Dorian Gray, with the real image hiding away in the closet. When the real image shows up, one isn’t surprised.

With Kate having been spied upon at a private retreat in France, though, I do feel as if something lovely is being unfairly sullied. I’m showing my solidarity with her by boycotting the images (which I assume are on the internet somewhere). Kate is gorgeous when she’s clothed, and I have no desire to invade her privacy and increase her humiliation by checking her out unclothed.

While I’m talking about lovely things (which serve as a much-needed antidote to the news these days), someone sent me a link to a site called the Folio Society. I am, as the name of my blog suggests, a bibliophile. Lately, because it’s convenient, I’ve been doing most of my reading on a Kindle — it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s compact. Truly, though, there is nothing like a beautiful book.

When I was in college, I worked at the Bancroft Library, at UC Berkeley, which houses a collection of rare books and incunabula.  When work was slow, my friends and I used to go down into the vault and look at the illuminated medieval manuscripts.  And when I say “look at,” I really mean it.  We’d grab some tissues to protect the vellum from the oils on our fingers, and carefully flip through the pages, pouring over the brilliant images.  The books were amazing.  The colors (often including gold leaf) looked as if they had been applied minutes before.  This is one of the reasons that, when I read about the Middle Ages, I am always able to imagine that time in vivid, living color.

The Folio Society does not offer illuminated manuscripts, which is just as well, because they’re very hard to take care of.  Instead, the create special editions of famous books, including copies of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.  My fingers actually tingled when I saw the pictures.  The books are beautifully bound, with exquisite illustrations, either by the original artists or by well-known illustrators.  The Alice in Wonderland books, for example, look as if they were just taken off the shelves of a Victorian bookstore.  As with those medieval manuscripts at the Bancroft, there’s a wonderful sense of immediacy with these books.  The Beatrix Potter collection is also exquisite.

The books are very expensive, but I suspect that, for some, the rewards are great.  My introduction to Victorian literature came about because my father had found at an estate sale a special edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  It was a large book (probably 8″ x 11″) and had these gorgeous, gloomy, full-page engravings.  I was mesmerized by the engravings as a little girl, and kept taking the book down to look at them.  Eventually, of course, I had to read the book, which started my love affair with all things Victorian.  A Kindle book can never offer this kind of enticement to an inquisitive child.

Do you have something lovely to offer as a sop to today’s news?  Pictures, videos, anecdotes, etc., would all be welcome.