Welcome to my weekly blog on impending fatherhood. I’m Jim, my wife’s name is Daisy, I turn 50 in September and Daisy is 37. We're expecting our first child in October - hence this, The Geriatric Dad Blog!
This is a proper, ‘in real life’ read from a man's perspective, so I hope you enjoy and follow the series as we go from pregnancy tests, to first scans, to gender reveals, through all the ups and downs of impending parenthood. This week - we're unexpectedly called in to see the obstetrics consultant!
If you've been following this blog, you might recall that a couple of weeks ago Daisy had received an unexpected referral to see an obstetrics consultant at 17 weeks pregnant.
And that, also unexpectedly, she'd separately received a letter inviting her to have an invasive test for gestational diabetes, even though we knew this test wasn't something low-risk pregnancies usually required.
Both invitations caused a degree of anxiety.
Why were we being invited to see the consultant? Why was Daisy being asked to go to the hospital after fasting for 12 hours to have a blood test, then drink a strong glucose drink, then have another blood test two hours later?
It made no sense. Everything in our pregnancy notes said she was low risk. Blood test results had been normal. Urine test results... normal.
There was nothing in each of the letters in way of explanation. So, to try and alleviate some of the anxiety we called the hospital maternity unit helpline.
"No, we can't see anything your notes relating to a diabetes test here..." they said. "We didn't request it."
What about the consultant referral? "No, not us. You're a low risk pregnancy. We wouldn't refer you to a consultant."
The mystery deepened, so we called the midwife (as you do!)
"Was it you?" we enquired cheerily after explaining the situation, trying to conceal our anxiety. "No!" she said. "I didn't refer you to the consultant. And I didn't ask for a gestational diabetes test!"
The mystery deepened further!
There was only one thing for it. Go and see the consultant as requested and take things from there. And Daisy, being the stubborn woman she can be, said she would refuse to do the diabetes test unless categorically told it was 100% necessary by the consultant. Go, girl!
"Stop it, Jim!"
The appointment was on Friday 13th.
Of all days, this was not the date we wanted, especially as Daisy is superstitious - I mean, so much so that she has this thing where she loudly shouts "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, hello Mr Magpie, Sir," at single magpies whenever she sees one, which always makes me laugh.
We were scheduled in to see the consultant at 11am at the local hospital out-patients.
We arrived promptly, took our seats and waited. And waited. And waited! Then waited some more.
Come 1215pm, nobody had called us through and I was getting irate - an irritableness driven by the anxiety of not knowing why we were even there.
I paced around the waiting room like a caged capybara, trying to remind myself all the time of the pressures the NHS was under and that really, this added wait time was of no consequence.
Ninety minutes after our appointment time, we were called through by a midwife we'd not met before. She was utterly lovely - reassuring, friendly; just super all round. Apparently, the consultant had arrived late because she was up through the night attending a couple of difficult births in the hospital maternity unit. Totally understandable.
"We're not quite sure why we're here!" we said, after introducing ourselves.
"Oh I don't know either," said the midwife. "Come and sit in this room and the consultant will see you shortly. In the meantime I'll look at your notes and see what I can find out."
As we waited, I spotted a life-size model of a human spine in the corner, nerve ends coming out of it and all sorts. Apparently, the room was usually used for clinics by orthopedic spine doctors.
I picked the thing up and waved it about laughing; pointing out the sciatic nerve to Daisy before emphasising how small the hole in the pelvis was that Sprout had to fit through during his birth later in the year.
At this point, a not-very-impressed midwife re-entered the room, joining a not-very-impressed Daisy and her not-very-impressive husband.
"Stop it Jim!" said my embarrassed spouse, before the bemused midwife let us know that - on the basis of Daisy's notes - she too couldn't work out why we were there.
"But not to worry," she said, "There's nothing untoward in any of Daisy's blood and urine tests," (which, of course, we knew very well...)
"Hello, I'm your consultant. Why are you here?"
A further 20 minutes or so passed before we were called in to see the consultant.
My first thought on seeing her was how young she looked. At least 10 years younger than me, I thought. Maybe 15 years younger. How could this be? Consultants are ALWAYS older than you!
"Hello!" she said brightly, introducing herself by her first name (we'll call her 'Mavis' here, just for shits and giggles).
"I'm your consultant, Dr Mavis," said our new medic friend.
She looked at me. There was a pregnant pause before she asked, "I assume you must be... the father?"
A quizzical look crossed her face as she probably debated quietly to herself whether it might be possible I was actually Daisy's dad.
I nodded. "As far as I know," I joked, before looking at Daisy, smiling. "I am the father, aren't I babe?"
Daisy frowned. Dr Mavis frowned too, before saving Daisy the ignominity of having to reply to that obviously ludicrous question by asking, "Do you know why you are here?"
"No," we replied in unison, "We were hoping you might be able to help us out on that one."
"Your midwife will have referred you," she said.
Er, no," we replied again. "She says not..."
All three of us were now confused (well, four of us if you include Sprout, as Sprout by now could technically hear, being 17 weeks from conception. He probably made more sense of it all than we did).
"Ummm," muttered Dr Mavis as she tapped a few keys hard and fast on her keyboard before Daisy's notes appeared on the screen.
All was quiet again, apart from the noise of the keyboard being tapped. Tap, tap, tap. Taptaptap. Tap. She tapped so hard I thought she might break one of her brightly-coloured nails.
"What can you see?" I asked.
"Ummm," she said, pausing. "Ummmm... I see you have a cyst on your right ovary?"
"I don't have any ovaries," I joked. "That would be Daisy."
A ever-so-brief flicker of a smile appeared on Dr Mavis's face before she bypassed my idiocy and turned to speak directly to Daisy.
"Do you know how big the cyst is? I see it was found and recorded during a private viability scan."
Daisy got out her notes from that scan. It was a small cyst, 3mm in size. "Ah, that's ok, nothing to worry about there," said Dr Mavis. "It won't cause any problems."
Cystic fibrosis carrier
Dr Mavis pored over the notes a bit more. "I see also that your notes say you're a cystic fibrosis carrier?" she asked.
This sounded a bit more serious.
"Yes," said Daisy, before turning to me. "But my Jim doesn't know if he is. I mean, he's a MAN, he doesn't even know what blood type he is," (which is true. I have no clue).
The consultant laughed this time, before asking me if my family had any history of cystic fibrosis. "It doesn't," I replied, "At least, I don't think so. None that I know of, anyway."
We talked a bit about the risks. Dr Mavis said they were very small: even if I was a carrier too, there was a 75% chance Sprout would be fine.
"Do you want baby screened?" she asked, to which the answer from us both was a categoric "No," as Daisy and I are both adamant that we will go full term if we can, no matter what disorders Sprout may or may not have.
With that, Dr Mavis closed Daisy's notes, telling us we had a low-risk pregnancy and that it as lovely to have met us.
"But what about the gestational diabetes test Daisy has been asked to take? And the letter she was sent about it?" I said.
"Pardon?" replied Dr Mavis. "Show me the letter... Ummm... It wasn't me. Daisy doesn't need one. Obviously an admin error. Screw up the letter and throw it in the bin!"
So we did.
And with that, we got up to leave. I shook Dr Mavis' hand and said, "Thank you. It's been lovely seeing you. Don't take this the wrong way, but I hope we never see you again!"
Next week's blog...
Next week we have our 20 week scan. This is the big one - where the sonographer can see whether baby Sprout is developing as he should. Needless to say, me being me, I am already getting anxious. As always, I'll write about things as they happen, regardless of whether they go well or not.
And - as we've also now got an outbreak of monkey pox to worry about - I'll write about that, too. Before then, I'll do some research and let you know what I find. Because I have an inkling it might be quite important to ensure Daisy doesn't catch it... no matter how small the risk might be.
Until then, take it easy!