Good Lord, it has begun. Bump-watch, that is. Kate Middleton, dressed conservatively and impeccably as always in a slimline crimson frock, was recently pictured sporting a stomach that looked about 1/8th the size of mine after too many carbs. And yet her embryonic baby bump is apparently proof positive that she is a blossoming, blooming picture of expectancy.
But the royal belly isn't the only one being watched assiduously. Kim Kardashian, one half of that famous coupling known as 'Kimye', is three months pregnant, and hiding her bump under layers of designer clothes. Having already turned down US$3 million for the baby pics - her mother apparently thinks she can get a lot more - she's already assured to be well compensated for the simple act of sexual intercourse (the other time she was well compensated for it was when her sex tape shot her to fame about 10 years ago).
Beyonce, who recently celebrated her daughter's first birthday with a diamond-clad Barbie doll and other extravagances is probably due to debut her second pregnancy production soon; the same may well be on the cards for the likes of Pink, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Biel (Mrs Timberlake) and Blake Lively in 2013. The women's mags are already living off our apparently insatiable interest in the wombs of the famous. But it has certainly not always been so. My grandmother, for example, could not remember one picture of Queen Elizabeth during her 'confinement', and even Diana-fever didn't seem to reach the giddy heights of Kate's already-overwhelming media onslaught - albeit there were some pictures of her wearing strange, pastel tent-like garments as childbirth grew near.
Perhaps the assumption is that the famous, like the average, woman, all become roughly equal during pregnancy; that childbirth and baby-parenting equalise us. That's the line that many publications implicitly try to run. But of course, they don't. The experience of an insanely rich women going through pregnancy, even motherhood, is one that is completely different from the average woman, and the ways in which this is so hardly need to be enumerated. I always ruefully laugh when these women recount their tales of motherhood, as if having nannies on call, cooks, personal trainers, and other assistants are part and parcel of the experience. I'll never forget Jennifer Lopez saying that wet nurses got up to feed her babies through the night because she and her husband needed the sleep. No kidding.
Am I jealous? Yes, of course I am. As I was pondering Beyonce's getaway to the Caribbean to celebrate her one-year-old's birthday, my one-year-old slammed my hand under a heavy porcelain toilet seat and laughed uproariously. He did that because I had to take him into the bathroom because I was the only adult at home and dinner was cooking on the stove and I didn't want him to pull the boiling pot on his head.
Each night, three children need to be sequestered into a room like wild animals as I mop the floor, given they tend to head towards any wet patch on the floor like lemmings and naturally slip in every painful direction. I'm a crap nurse, average cook, dutiful minder and hopeless entertainer, but a great multi-tasker, like most average parents. I guess I can console myself that I have that, at least, over Kim Kardashian. Which is not much consolation.
Guardian advice columnist Mariella Frostrup recently bemoaned the increasing hype over celebrity pregnancies, saying "[t]his perceived right to accessorise with offspring is at viral levels in celebrity world: you can't move for cover shoots and ads starring the offspring of pop stars, sports stars and actors."
But she sees it a bit differently than being just a cynical grab for cash by most of them - few of whom need the cash. "[They] are just doing publicly what others do privately: celebrating the crème de la crème of their loins for all to see," she says.
And they are rather fortunately rewarded for this with million-dollar cheques, bless them, rather than the polite, if not slightly bored smiles the rest of us make do with.