The Birds and The Babies

A few weeks ago a couple of birds made their nest on our balcony. It was an amazing experience to watch the two, busying themselves at building the future home for their pending offspring. To and fro they flew and fluttered, bringing back twigs and leaves and other necessary building material. The nest was built in no time and before we knew it, Mrs. Bird had laid her eggs. Three small, blue coloured chalky eggs. Two of which we were able to capture on camera.


I had little hope for the budding family. Flying predators, the neighbour’s cat, not to mention the va-et-vient at our apartment. And the nest, installed on the branches of a former houseplant now relegated to a corner of the balcony, seemed suddenly too precariously inadequate and shakily unstable to hold a family of three.

But then, on Monday, it happened. All was still, Mr. Bird remained absent, Mrs. Bird sat alert and motionless and the chicks hatched.

And just like with a royal birth, we had to wait till the next day for a foto-op.


A coincidence. A sign. An intense moment of happiness.

Royal watcher or not, the news of Kate Middleton’s third baby was unavoidable. And royal or not, like everybody else, I am happy all went well for mother and child. Judging from the pictures, it all went very well. Amazingly well. Exceptionally well. Almost unnaturally well.

As the royal mother, father and child emerged from the hospital, awaited by hordes of people, shouting and cheering and applauding, cameras and smartphones clicking and snapping, I was caught between a feeling of pity and incredulity. On the one hand there she stood, poor Kate, freshly out of labour, yet perfectly coiffed and made up, dressed in a meticulously ironed dress that did not come out of an overnight bag that had been, for days, sitting at the base of a staircase only to be hastily thrown into a car. Instead, Kate was the object of carefully orchestrated teamwork. As always, Kate did what she had to do.

Throughout the history of mankind, giving birth has been a dangerous affair for both mother and child, and in many countries, it still is. Yet, as we are more and more able to manage and limit the risks of childbirth, giving birth is no longer considered a medical emergency and pregnancies have become natural, holistic, spiritual journeys, embraced by mothers and fathers alike. A bit like Kate and Co.

Natural or not, most deliveries still take place in hospitals but is is now a common, i.e. cost cutting practice to send mother and baby home after barely a day or two. A bit like Kate and Co.

Or not.

Because this is where the carefully orchestrated teamwork comes in. And we are not talking about mums and mothers in law. For no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to pull off a Kate. And in that sense, poor Kate who can’t do either right or wrong or please everybody, has done a lot of new mothers a disservice. The pretence of effortless perfection.