On Picture-Perfect Hospital Departures (or Not!)
No sooner had Meghan and Harry announced their decision to forgo a public appearance with their newborn on the hospital steps than the hot takes started rolling in. Was their desire for a much more controlled photo staging, on the grounds of Windsor a few days after the birth, the end of an era? A decidedly more feminist move?
The furor prompted me to dig up this shot of my own hospital departure as a new mother. As I packed for the hospital, I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to look like when I left — in large part because of how influential Kate’s own hospital photocall was to me two years earlier. I remember anxiously watching the livestream from my desk at work, marveling at, among many things, the existence of her bump. Here she was, new baby in her arms, still looking very much pregnant! It hadn’t occurred to me that was how one might look after giving birth. But man was I glad for the head’s up.
When my turn came, I packed accordingly. I included one of my favorite maternity dresses and I definitely didn’t hate that it was blue and white, just like Kate’s. Also included in my suitcase: a hairdryer, a curling iron, and my makeup, all things I used on a daily basis before I had a child and all things I hoped would make me feel like myself after I had one. I was very nervous to give birth, but I was *so excited* for what I imagined to be a triumphant moment, leaving the hospital with my new son. It was a moment I had dreamed about through years of infertility. The reality was a tad less glam than I imagined (my feet were so swollen I couldn’t fit into my shoes!) but that didn’t matter. This photo, taken by a hospital staffer, are some of my favorites from that day. Matt and I look so HAPPY.
Fast forward two years, when it came time to leave the hospital after the birth of my second son, and the departure photo opp was much lower on my list of priorities. I had spent four long nights trapped in a room recovering from an emergency c-section, and was more than ready to get home, both to my older son and to our new life as a family of four. I had hoped to repeat the photo staging the second time around, and packed a dress (also blue and white! This one longer to cover my swollen limbs). When the time came, I hobbled to the bathroom to comb my hair and put on a bit of makeup. But I’ll confess, I was more focused on my boys than I was about capturing the moment. Matt and I took a few not-great pictures in the hospital lobby, but my favorite is actually a selfie I snapped on the way out of the room.
All of this is to say, I see both sides loud and clear. And I return to my oft-repeated mantra: new moms get to do whatever is best for them. The physical recovery and rollercoaster of emotions one goes through shortly after birth is surprising at best, paralyzing at worst. If Kate wanted to leave the hospital in a hurry, and a public photocall to debut the newest heir was the quickest way to get her home, to privacy and sweatpants, so be it! If Meghan needed a minute to catch her breath, process it all and stage a manageable moment, good for her! Being a new mom is tough, doing it on the worldwide stage sounds impossible to me. Let’s support them! Full stop.
What was your hospital departure like? Did you take any pics? Please share your stories in the comments! I love hearing them.