And sending an important message to the world 🙌
When the world heard that the Duchess of Sussex was both pregnant and embarking on a whirlwind royal tour involving 76 engagements over 16 days, many mamas around the world were simultaneously thrilled for the Duchess and thankful that they don't have to keep a schedule like hers.
The tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga packs a lot of appearances into little more than two weeks, and while expecting mamas can, of course, continue to work (in most cases) during pregnancy, it did seem like the royal agenda didn't leave a ton of time for rest.
That's why we were happy to hear that, after the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games went way long (like two hours longer than expected) on Saturday night, the Duchess decided not to join Prince Harry at the games on Sunday morning.
Kensington Palace released a statement explaining the absence and acknowledging that there will be some more of them.
"After a busy programme, the duke and duchess have decided to cut back the duchess's schedule slightly for the next couple of days, ahead of the final week-and-a-half of the tour," a royal spokesperson wrote.
Good for her, we say. Because while pregnancy certainly does not mean women should be sidelined for nine months, we also have to admit that we're not superhuman. It's okay if you need a nap, mama.
Markle is reportedly not sick, just really tired, and the palace and Prince Harry are encouraging her to pace herself, and not push herself too hard. It's advice many mamas (pregnant or not) need to hear sometimes.
And so on Sunday, Prince Harry presented the medals for the Invictus Games road cycling event without his wife by his side, but she did make it to the sailing race in the afternoon, joining Prince Harry on a yacht in Sydney Harbor.
On Monday, Prince Harry will make some solo appearances on Fraser Island while Markle rests up.
Pregnancy can be physically demanding. It can be exhausting. By admitting this on the world's stage, by not forcing herself to smile and wave when she really needs to be sleeping, Markle isn't just protecting her health and her baby, she's sending a message to the world:
It's okay to admit we are human, even (and maybe especially) when we are pregnant.
It's no secret that pregnant people often face discrimination in the workplace. Some are forced out of the workforce. Others overcompensate, forcing themselves to commit to gruelling (even dangerous) schedules to prove they're still a valuable employee. Some have no choice but to show up at work and lift heavy boxes, or work overtime, or attend an after-hours meeting even when they are beyond exhausted.
The palace had the power to change Markle's schedule, and employers have the power to change the culture that makes exhausted pregnant mothers (and everyone else) feel they have no choice but to show up early and stay late.
For too many women, asking for reasonable accommodations (like not doing heavy lifting, or limiting the work week to 40 hours) means they put are out of a job at a time when financial security is so important. Lawmakers have the ability to protect pregnant women seeking reasonable accommodations, and employers have the ability to recognize that we are humans before we are workers (or, in Markle's case, royalty).
If the palace (which is not exactly known for admitting the humanity of the mothers in its ranks) can do it, so can the office.