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My Twitter has fairly exploded today, which naturally tends to mean big news of some kind. In this case, it’s the announcement that William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their first child! (In fact, my sister’s first words to me when I got up this morning were, “Kate’s pregnant.”) This will be the third great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and the first grandchild for Prince Charles (and Diana, Princess of Wales).

Unfortunately, the announcement* came because Kate has been hospitalized for what is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (or HG, which literally means, “excessive vomiting in pregnancy”), and the royal family didn’t want there to be any unnecessary speculation on Kate’s condition. HG is more than your typical morning sickness, though, affecting up to 2% of women and potentially causing dehydration and lasting much longer than “usual” morning sickness. Severe HG cases, or cases left untreated, have led to miscarriages and Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre, may have died from HG. It’s expected that Kate will stay in the hospital for anywhere from “a few” to “several” days to make sure she’s stabilized and keeping fluids before a few more days of bedrest at home. One article I read compared HG recovery to recovering from a bad case of food poisoning.

Of course, a Cambridge baby presents all sorts of questions and legislative deadlines (last year the Commonwealth Realms agreed to amend the rules of succession to allow the firstborn child of William and Kate to succeed to the throne regardless of gender, but so far no laws have been passed), but we’ve got plenty of time for that. And, seeing as I love protocol and royal traditions, I’ll probably dissect some of them in the near future.

In the meantime, I wish Kate a speedy recovery and congratulations to the parents-to-be!

*It seems that well-wishers have crashed the Cambridges’ official site; the webmasters have set up a splash page that tells you all you need to know.