Almost as soon as Prince William and Kate Middleton wed last spring, rumors began to fly: When would they start a family? Was Kate too thin to conceive? Might she have fertility problems or an eating disorder? A year and a half later, the world celebrates: Kate Middleton is pregnant! There's going to be a Royal Baby!

Within minutes of the announcement, social media were buzzing over this royal babe, who is, at this point, about as big as a peanut (though no official due date has been named). Further speculations have ensued: If it is a girl, will a new law allow her to be heir to the throne? Will Kate's rumored eating disorder lead to miscarriage? What will they name him or her?

Anyone who has ever been pregnant can tell you, the two thin lines on the pregnancy test are only the beginning of the waiting, and each month seems longer than the one before it. Pregnancy is all about the waiting, and that waiting is often very difficult. The anticipation hasn't ended; it's merely changed shape.

I'm not, by anyone's definition, a patient person, and I find waiting especially difficult. Both times that I was pregnant, I suffered the most in the final weeks, and not just from the minor physical problems of nausea and heartburn and overstressed joints and sleepless nights, but emotionally: I felt that I just could not stand being pregnant any more. Each day (Was that twinge a contraction? Is today the day?) seemed to push me into a darker and darker cave of depression. I bounced for hours on a birth ball, ate papaya, ran stairs (which was more like frantic waddling up stairs), took hot baths, ate hot curries, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and swallowed evening primrose oil.

Despite these dubious remedies, both my children arrived well past their "due dates," a term so misleading that it ought to be stricken from the vernacular, especially for perfectionists like me who feel like a recalcitrant library patron who still needs to return a wait-listed item. Eleven days after my second son's due date, I called my midwives and begged them to do something. This, despite the fact that ten days earlier, I'd begged them not to induce me under any circumstances whatsoever. I was desperate to be delivered, desperate to be done with the uncomfortable waiting and the hormonal mood swings and depression, to move out of pregnancy and into motherhood—and there wasn't even anything substantially "wrong" with me.

Perhaps it's because men largely shaped the church calendars and liturgies we use today, but we rarely remember that Advent is essentially the last month of Mary's pregnancy—that time wherein excitement and anticipation is so great that it is separated from grief, even despair (will this baby ever come?) by a mere thread. Unlike me, unlike Kate Middleton, and, chances are, unlike you, Mary didn't have Preggie Pops or Sea-Bands for her first trimester nausea, prenatal vitamins to stave off tooth and bone loss and the urge to chew on newspapers, or pregnancy yoga and massage to ease her aches and pains. Nor did she have the knowledge that expert care stood at the ready should anything go amiss. In giving life to Jesus, she encountered the very real specter of her own death.

For most women in history, the anticipation of a child was a mixture of joy and fear; and for a good many women in the world today, this is still the case. Mary's faith is all the more remarkable when we consider all that she didn't have to comfort and assure her of her safety. When we remember this, the final weeks of pregnancy—Advent—are as sober as they are expectant and joyful. Sarah Jobe writes in Creating with God that, during her pregnancy (which coincided with Advent), she

began to understand the mystery at the heart of our faith: that suffering for the sake of another can indeed bring forth new life.

Kate Middleton has been enduring some suffering. Amid the many shouts of glee over the royal heir in her womb, fewer noted that the Duchess has been hospitalized for hyperemesis, an extreme form of morning sickness that leads to weight loss and dehydration and entails a whole lot of suffering. Pregnancy—and Advent—rightly elicit joy and anticipation, but less often do we remember that this is a joy that "seekest [us] through pain," as the old hymn puts it, and that for Mary—as for millions of women the world over—that pain, both physical and emotional, goes unalleviated.

As we remember the coming of the true King—and as we celebrate, however earnestly or superficially, the coming of this future British monarch—it is good to remember the mothers: the mothers who suffer the burden of infertility, the mothers who suffer the wrenching but often-secret loss of miscarriage, the mothers who suffer physically and emotionally in bringing forth new life. It is also right to remember that our King was not born in a palace to the cheering of people on social media, the adoration of society's elite, and all the comforts that wealthy modernity has to offer, but in a little village in conditions approximating what we would call "extreme poverty."

For his sake, let's remember, this Advent, the mothers who suffer, whether among the world's elite, or among the "least of these."

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