Comment: Cheryl has every right to keep mum about baby...some things are sacred
Cheryl's pregnancy is the longest open secret, but don't dare ask what her surname is, writes Sarah Caden
Cheryl is pregnant. I know that reads as overly familiar to call her just Cheryl, but she doesn't have a surname, officially, these days.
The fact of announcing a complete stranger's pregnancy when they haven't actually publicly said the words themselves is not so oddly intimate, though. Not anymore. Not when the uterus is public property these days.
We speculate and celebrate the conceptions, pregnancies and deliveries of celebrities as if they were our closest family these days, and yet pussy-foot around causing offence by calling Cheryl by her maiden name or one of her two married names. Because that would be rude, right? And just too intimate.
Last week, Cheryl wore a tight-knitted khaki dress to a Christmas carol service. The crowd went wild. She had a coat over it and it was a fairly demure dress if rather snug, and it was utterly obvious that she was pregnant.
Not newly pregnant, not a little bit pregnant, properly pregnant. Second trimester, it was speculated, as if we're all putting the due date in our diaries. It was a pregnant belly and not just a large lunch, which was how Jennifer Aniston felt compelled to account for her rounded-belly bikini shot last summer.
So, after months of speculation, it is now utterly obvious that she and her boyfriend, Liam Payne of One Direction, are having a baby.
Of course, this has been known to a great extent, for some months now. Cheryl's changing shape has been the subject of much commentary.
It started with oh, isn't it nice that Cheryl isn't as skinny as she was when she was miserable with that ex-husband of hers? The more naive among us may not have immediately recognised this as code for either, "someone's been at the pies", or "someone has a bun in the oven".
You may have thought it was just code for, "Ah, look, Cheryl's happy with that young fella. Have you seen the clips of her making eyes at him on The X Factor when he was a teenager?"
Quickly for some, slowly for others, the penny dropped. "Flaunting her new curves" or "looking healthy" was a way of suggesting that Cheryl was pregnant.
As well as a way of baiting her to come out and admit it, of course. Which Cheryl did not. And has not, aside from her wearing of her form-fitting dress and big, happy smile to the carols last week.
In this day and age, Cheryl's silence has been interesting. For one thing, it's not like Cheryl has ever been shy of talking about her life and her private life before. Or of putting it on show publicly.
Remember the Lotto ads with then husband Ashley Cole? Remember the cat-who's-got-the-cream social-media engagement and wedding announcements with husband number two, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini? Cheryl has not only been quite open about her life in the past, but she has boosted her career with the interest in her private life, too.
Of course, she is entitled to go silent, possibly having been burned by those two previous relationships and, to an extent, publicly humiliated as each of them ended. She seems happy with Liam and it's perfectly possibly she doesn't want to jeopardise it.
Also, a baby is a very different thing to a romantic relationship. Romance is fragile but at least it involves adults. Pregnancies and babies are far more fragile and, as we know, things can go wrong.
It's not just superstition that stops people from going on and on and getting ahead of themselves by revealing all about an expected baby. It's also the knowledge that things can go wrong and that really, it can be a good idea to keep your counsel and keep the whole thing low-key. Because if you live out the gestation in the spotlight, any blip in its progress will be public too.
And yet, even though Cheryl has made it clear with her silence that she does not want to talk about it, the pressure to do so has grown.
In fact, the speculation sort of grew to a point where you could quite easily call it bullying in tone. There were lots of incidents of Cheryl being photographed only from the mid-torso up. Or wearing big cardigans or coats, or sitting behind tables at various functions. Friends and colleagues were said to have inadvertently spilled the beans at various times, though really all they had said was that Cheryl was happy or, even better, Cheryl had never been happier.
None of what anyone said, from Cheryl's former X-Factor co-judge to her Girls Aloud pal Kimberly Walsh, amounted to a formal announcement; but it was a sort of a baiting game.
A baiting game because of an utter impatience with playing a waiting game.
Needless to say, Cheryl is no stranger to commentary on her physical appearance. And it's fair to argue that she has been complicit in this.
Her face and her figure have been her fortune to a great extent and she has enjoyed that.
But some things are sacred, which gives her every right to keep mum.