In this passage, Kate describes the time immediately before Madeleine was born
My pregnancy was totally without complication. No sickness, no back pain, no bleeding, no swelling. I felt great. I swam at least every other day, right up to the day before I went into labour. And I absolutely loved being pregnant. Rubbing body lotion over my bump was such a beautiful feeling, like touching my baby. In common with most mothers, I’m sure, I will remember for ever the amazing sensation, the pure intimacy, of my baby moving around inside me. Neither Gerry nor I wanted to know whether we were expecting a boy or a girl. I’m well known for liking surprises – one of those people who refuses to open even a single present before Christmas Day. For some reason I always thought of the baby as a boy. I’ve no idea why – perhaps simply because I’d visualized myself in many a dreamy moment with a little boy – who knows? We’d settled on the name Aidan, and although we had tossed around a few options for a girl, there wasn’t one in particular we agreed on.
Despite the fact that they say they didn't want to know, Kate at least appears to have formed a strong mental image of herself with a little boy, and the fact that they decided on a name for a boy but not a girl seems significant. Either they were very convinced, which seems counter-intuitive, or that's really what they were hoping for.
After years of longing for this day, here we were: parents. There can surely be no greater moment in anyone’s life. And here she was: not our little boy, but our little girl. I’m not sure quite why this came as such a big surprise to us – after all, there are only two flavours – but because it was a surprise, the moment was extra special. Our daughter was perfect. A beautiful round head, no marks, and not at all squashed. Big, big eyes and a lovely, compact little body. The most wonderful thing I had ever set eyes on. I loved her instantly. Of course, Aidan was out of the frame now. Of the girls’ names we had in mind Madeleine was my favourite, and Madeleine she becameI may be completely wrong here, and it may be of no significance whatsoever, but Kate's description of Madeleine strikes an odd note with me, rather as if she is giving a description for a textbook.
Contrast this with her description of the twins' birth
On the afternoon of 1 February 2005, Sean and Amelie made their appearance in the world. I was lucky enough to be able to have a ‘normal’ delivery. Sean led the way with his head and his sister followed, preferring to flash her bottom first to all and sundry. We were totally taken aback to discover we had a boy, having fully expected two girls. How rubbish were we? Needless to say, neither of us have any plans to become obstetric ultrasonographers. Once again, being caught out made the birth a lovely surprise, and Gerry’s delight at having a son was clear from the big, cheesy grin he could do nothing to disguise. For my part, I was a little shocked initially by this boy of mine lying on my tummy. He wasn’t the prettiest, God bless him: he was squashed from the birth and his head was lopsided. But I loved him regardless and I’m glad to say he’s a really handsome chap these days, just gorgeous. Amelie was beautiful from the start – petite with a little rosebud mouth.Now again, maybe I am reading too much into it, but two things strike me about this passage. Firstly, we hear about Gerry's delight at the birth of a son - which stands out as Kate makes no reference in the book to Gerry's response to the birth of either Madeleine or Amelie - and her descriptions of the twins
Handsome, gorgeous, beautiful from the startEvery parent thinks their child is beautiful, even if they sometimes look like they have just been released from a vacuum pack, but he description of the twins seems more natural than the slightly clinical description of Madeleine.
So how big an issue is it for parents? Did Kate, convinced she was expecting a boy, feel she had somehow failed when Madeleine arrived? Surely parents quickly get used to the 'change of plan'?
Well, not all of them do.
I'm going to leave you with this letter I found from an expectant mum. It is certainly illuminating.
We found out we're having a girl and I'm devastated. I was desperately hoping for a boy. I've completely lost interest in the pregnancy. I used to be excited and now I don't even want to think about being pregnant. I'm avoiding family/friends because I don't want to share the news with them (and everyone knows that I have the results of the ultrasound by now). My husband and I had a huge fight because he's "disappointed" in my reaction and can't understand why it's so hard for me to accept. Now he'll hardly talk to me. I don't even want to attend my shower anymore. Don't tell me I'm selfish (you can't possibly make me feel worse about myself than I already do) or that I will love my baby anyway (I know that) or that the next one might be a boy (we can only afford to have one). And please no advice to talk to someone - I have no one I can talk to (not even my doctor) and seeing a counselor is not an option (I am one). I pray everyday that there was a mistake, but how do I get over this?