Q Why is that when celebrities give birth it's such a big deal, as if they are the only women on earth to have ever created a child?

Carol Cusick, Hollywood, Md.

A Nearly every culture, at one point or another, has had some specific or abstract hope riding on a single pregnancy. Having grown up saying the "Hail Mary" before class every day, I can think of one major religion that hinges on a divine pregnancy.

In history, lots of energy used to go into hoping for, fretting about and closely tracking royal births. The fates of entire communities used to hang in the balance on such things. For a modern example, witness the mental stress reportedly suffered by Princess Masako of Japan, who with her husband has failed to produce a male heir to the imperial throne in 11 years of marriage. (Her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, has partly blamed the scrutiny for the princess's fragile emotional state.)

Now, doesn't getting all atwitter over Julia Roberts carrying twins seem so much more perky and fun? Perhaps whatever overemphasis Americans place on celembryos, which become starbabies, is just the misplaced emotion of a nation without royalty. There's a cultural imperative for the entire village to get behind one baby. Or two. And getting upset about all the attention given to the pregnancies of the famous is, in its way, purely American, in the Founding Fathers sense: In this country, we believe no one's child is more important than anybody else's. Or at least we try to.

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