Quite early into the fabulous, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing journey that is pregnancy, I remember thinking that if I didn't know I was with child, I would have to conclude that I was dying. In fact, that is exactly what I said to my other half as I lay on the floor next to the loo one evening, having retched the last drop of bile from my body. "I feel like I'm on my way out," I snivelled into the cold bathroom tiles, mascara down my face and bits of vomit in my hair.
Not for the first time since we had seen the fateful two lines on the pregnancy test, my boyfriend rubbed my back in what he took to be a supportive gesture. I crawled away from him ungratefully - really, what was a back rub when he had impregnated me and was thus responsible for the way I was feeling? - and promptly fell asleep with my head resting on the side of the bath.
I'd like to think that the Duchess of Cambridge is experiencing a more glamorous early pregnancy, though evidence suggests that the poor thing is having an even ghastlier time of it. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is as nasty as it sounds, the condition every pregnant woman reads about in the books and hopes to God she won't suffer from.
How Catherine managed last week gaily to criss-cross the hockey field in a pair of heels without being sick or falling into a narcoleptic coma last week, I do not know. How she managed to do it in front of the world's cameras will now become one of the great unanswered questions of our time. Whatever her trick is - crackers, ginger beer, pretzels, good old-fashioned British stoicism - I salute her. She is 10 times the woman I will ever be.
Let me be clear from the start. For all the talk of pregnancy being a time to treasure, it can also be bloody awful. Expectant mothers don't just "glow" and "bloom" and all those other patronising terms ladled out to describe the bloating that strikes the face when you are "in the family way". They also cry and scream and - cover your eyes, boys - fart. Though pregnancy is often seen as the ultimate state of womanhood, in reality there is nothing less ladylike. It's all belching, constipation and (in some cases, so I hear) haemorrhoids.
"Morning sickness" is a complete misnomer - as the Duchess has discovered, it can happen at any time of the day, and I found it worst in the middle of the night.
A heightened sense of smell doesn't help. I am convinced that a sniffer dog is no match for a pregnant woman. I recall very early on in my pregnancy going for a lunch with a bunch of bigwigs, and being overwhelmed by nausea at the very sight of a man across the table tucking in to his salmon.
The first trimester is famously the worst, though if you think it's all plain sailing once you pass 12 weeks, you're in for a big surprise. I am now 20 weeks pregnant, and this weekend, I woke up in the middle of the night choking on my own vomit, one more fun aspect of pregnancy that is apparently "normal", caused simply by acid reflux (a mug of Gaviscon before bed seems to stop it, even if it does have a consistency that puts me in mind of a Bushtucker Trial).
Pregnancy comes with a whole host of symptoms that vary from person to person, and it seems to me to be entirely random as to which ones you get. Take your pick: nose bleeds, acne, headaches, incontinence, insomnia, overly greasy hair - or, if you're really lucky, hair so glossy that you only have to wash it once during the whole nine months. (PS, Catherine: it's actually more like 10 months).
And then there are the moods. Oh my, the moods. I have cried for an hour because I couldn't find a bra - HOW DARE MY BOYFRIEND HAVE TIDIED THINGS UP? - and I have "run away" three times, usually as far as the churchyard around the corner, for reasons I remember not (I imagine legging it into the night is not an option open to the Duchess, which makes me feel more than a little bit sorry for her). When people say they are embarrassed because they cry at the John Lewis Christmas advert, I want to weep. "If you think that's emotional incontinence," I say, welling up, "then you should see me every time they play the opening strains of the X Factor theme tune."
But I'm pretty sure that the worst thing about pregnancy - far worse than the nausea, actually - is the uncertainty. The first 12 weeks are particularly gut-wrenching, because doctors and nurses and books and websites and other women do not let you forget that anything could happen, that this precious little thing you are creating inside you could vanish at any moment.
Every twinge - and there are heaps of them - brings with it a wave of anxiety. When I realised I was bleeding at eight weeks, we went straight to A&E, where they put me on a drip and told me in hushed tones that it was likely I was having a miscarriage, though they couldn't say for sure until they could get me an appointment at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit. I cried all weekend, and then when I got there and saw my baby's heartbeat for the first time I felt stupid for panicking.
But you do panic. And I suppose you always will - it's preparation for a lifetime of looking out for somebody else.
And so you learn to take nothing for granted. You almost begin to enjoy pregnancy's weird and wacky ailments for what they are - signs that you are going to have a baby. Just as I'm sure the Duchess is doing right now, you take on the sickness and the tiredness and the potential for tears, and you do this because, deep inside, you know that it will all be worth it in the end.