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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s interview is a wrenching spotlight into the early days of motherhood

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, holds her baby son, Archie, as she and Prince Harry meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah. (Pool photo by Henk Kruger/AFP/Getty Images)

When Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was interviewed by ITV News about her early days of motherhood recently, her interview rang so true to so many women.

Obviously, most women aren’t in the spotlight like the duchess is. They aren’t widely mocked for holding their baby awkwardly. Or publicly shamed for going somewhere without him or making a tiny innocuous comment. And certainly not all women are the target of racists.

The subtle but important message Duchess Meghan is sending new moms about giving birth

Imagine dealing with all of that, in the world’s view, during and shortly after having a baby, the most vulnerable of times for any new mom. Sure, plenty of moms are familiar with scrutiny, judgment and unwelcome advice. The stranger on the street who says your baby’s head is at an odd angle in the stroller. The man who pokes your pregnant belly in the lunch place near work and laughs. The fake-innocent, “Oh, she’s still drinking from a bottle?”

That is surely why this painful interview caused so much of a sisterhood call.

That’s why her pained expression actually brought tears to mere mom mortals. Because we, too, have felt ostracized, judged. Even if we weren’t targeted by racists on top of it all. (Want to lose faith in all humanity? Search “Markle” and “crying” on Twitter. Then again, don’t.)

Mothers are shamed from the very start: for how they act while pregnant, what they eat, how much exercise they get and what they wear. For having a birth plan, for not having a birth plan. For going med-free, for home-birthing. For having C-sections, for having a doula or not having a doula. For not breast-feeding, breast-feeding in public, pumping at work. For being single. For going back to work, not working, for working too soon because there is no paid leave (AHEM), unlike every other industrialized nation in the world.

So when Meghan stopped to consider her words in this interview, and then thanked the interviewer for actually asking if she’s okay, many of us could feel her exhaustion.

All that shaming, all that judging that so many women face as they are going through what is likely the most physically and mentally exhausting time in their lives, even the subtle digs — it’s depleting, at a time in life when depletion is already in full force.

That is why Meghan’s interview hit home with so many people who aren’t called “Duchess” and aren’t in a global spotlight, who aren’t targeted by tabloids and followed by paparazzi.

Because we, too, know what it feels like to be picked apart when all we want is someone to ask if we’re okay.

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More reading:

Parents of mixed-race children share advice to Prince Harry and Meghan

The buzz about Meghan Markle’s birth plan has highlighted the stigma around home births

We owe it to one another to talk about this crazy mess that is motherhood

The important lesson moms need to take from Serena Williams’s childbirth experience