WE’VE had a scare.
My wife woke up one day last week complaining of dizziness.
I consulted Dr Internet and diagnosed low blood sugar. I told her to have a sugary drink and off we both went to work.
But fizzy pop didn’t make the dizziness stop.
During the afternoon, my wife phoned me to say the dizziness had led to her being sick at work and she was now getting a taxi home.
By the time I arrived home she had been sick a couple more times.
Moving on to the internet’s next most likely suggestion of a cause, iron deficiency, I prescribed a bowl of boiled broccoli. This probably wouldn’t have been appetising even if the room wasn’t spinning for her as she ate it.
After a couple of mouthfuls she filled the bowl back up with green projectile vomit. It was like a scene from The Exorcist.
When she did the same with a glass of water (although not quite the full Linda Blair mode this time as it wasn’t green) I knew this was getting beyond my medical expertise and took her to A&E.
After a couple of hours people watching and having our minds taken off our own worries by an episode of Casualty taking place right before our very eyes (a man had poisoned his partner with some dodgy home cooking – “I told you stir fry wasn’t my speciality” – and the woman’s mum was using this as proof as to what a waster he was) we were taken to the maternity ward.
After my wife’s eighth bout of vomiting they sedated her and decided, at 1am, she could stay in for the night for observation.
That is the short story of the events that night but doesn’t begin to touch on the emotions we were feeling.
You don’t want to be rushed to hospital at the best of times but especially not when you’re 17 weeks pregnant. The stakes are raised.
Our story ends with relief. My wife was diagnosed with labyrinthitis, a viral infection that is similar in symptoms to extreme vertigo. It’s horrible for her, she can’t walk further than five yards without feeling sick, but she will get better and Junior has been checked over and is fine.
But the incident brought home to me how tenuous pregnancy can be.
There are a lot of things about pregnancy I didn’t appreciate until my wife was carrying the fruit of my loins and miscarriage is at the top of that list.
I’ve had friends who have miscarried, I probably know a fair few people within my wider circle of friends who have miscarried without me even knowing it, I’ve read of some prominent people – Lily Allen, Kelly Brook and Beyonce spring to mind – suffering from miscarriages in the news.
My reaction has been one of sympathy but tinged with an element of “you can try again.”
I won’t ever think that again.
Aristotle put forward the idea that a foetus should be thought of as human 40 days after conception for male babies and 90 for females. We’ve burned some bras and moved on a bit since those days, but lawmakers, spiritual leaders and scientists still can’t agree an exact time when a baby should have “rights.”
But from the moment my wife came out of the toilet waving her pregnancy test around like she was a drum majorette leading a college band, I’ve thought of “Junior” as a member of our family. To lose him or her from that point on would be devastating. I don’t say it cheaply. I already know I’d never truly get over it.
And the amount of people that do suffer that agony is astonishingly high.
One in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. With no explanation for the majority of them many women end up blaming themselves. As they’ve often not announced their pregnancy to the wider world they then lack the support they need.
For dads, you have the loss of a child and a wife or partner who feels they have somehow failed you. My wife was already going down that route with our own scare.
When I got home from the hospital having left my wife behind, I logged on to the prenatal message board that I’ve signed up to just to find out if anyone had experienced labyrinthitis in pregnancy. I noticed that in the signature of one of the posters who I’d been chatting to were the initials TTC (“trying to conceive”) and then a list of three “M/C” dates.
In my emotional state and without knowing the woman other than that her username suggested she was from Lancashire, I shed a tear for her.
And on the eve of us celebrating the most famous birth in Christianity, my heart goes out to all those who didn’t make it that far.
The leaders, the scientists, the lawyers, the athletes but, most of all, the sons and daughters that we’ll never get to know, and may not even have been told about – but will always be held in the heart of those who conceived them.