Slapped Cheek = Mad Panic!

5th November

Today was a tiring day, felt ratty and out of sorts all day for no apparent reason.  We took in the local Fireworks (bloody freezing) and then headed for a curry where I continued to be irritable and bad company (sorry Scott and Sonny).  During the meal I realised that I am ‘off’ Indian food, something that surprised me as Waitrose chicken tikka masala has been going down well since I found out I was pregnant, clearly they are very different and appeal to very different taste buds!  Anyway I just couldn’t get excited about it, even when my favourite coconut dish came out with the poppadums (by the way, if anyone knows how to make the coconut dish please share) and I was just glad when it was over and I could get home.

Once settled on the sofa (under a throw, bloody hell hasn’t the temperature dropped?) I booted up my now charged mobile (it died shortly into the meal) and read my text messages.  Sonny has just returned yesterday from a three day residential trip with the school and one of the mum’s, Kathryn, had messaged me:m a couple if hours before:

James seems to have come home with ‘slapped cheek’ – a virus like a cold that also give you red itchy hives on the cheeks and neck. Once it shows on the cheeks it’s not contagious but thought I’d let you know in case either of your boys get any symptoms. I’m guessing he might have picked it up there or just before. He’s not feeling ill, just itchy!

Sonny was lying next to me so I had a quick glance at him, saw no red cheeks and headed over to Facebook to see what my friends were up to.  In about three seconds my brain cells connected and I remembered that I was pregnant.  I then very quickly remembered reading something once upon a time on slapped cheek and pregnancy and recalled that being in contact wasn’t good for an unborn baby, a bit like chicken pox.  I headed to Google and the top search item was:

Most pregnant women who get slapped cheek syndrome have healthy babies. However, depending on what stage of pregnancy you’re at, there’s a small risk of miscarriage or complications for your unborn baby. If you’re pregnant and have been exposed to the virus, you should see your GP, midwife or call NHS 111.

It is absolutely crazy how quickly you can descend into utter panic isn’t it?  One moment I am sat there snugly meddling with my phone, the next I am sat upright dialling 111 whilst inspecting and interviewing my poor child like he’s arrived in an airport with Rabies.

When did James get the rash?

Are you sure it wasn’t Wednesday?

Thursday night?  The teacher told Kathryn Friday morning?  You sure it was Thursday night?

Where was his rash?  All over?  Did any of the others have it?

How are you feeling?

Are you sure you’re feeling ok?

Really sure?

On and on I went whilst reading Google and scaring the shit out of myself.  This was the next lovely little ditty that Google imparted:

Complications during pregnancy

If you get slapped cheek syndrome during your first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there’s an increased risk of miscarriage.

If you become infected during weeks 9 to 20 of your pregnancy, there’s also a small risk that the baby will develop foetal hydrops. This is a serious condition, where a build-up of fluid develops in the baby’s body, causing complications such as heart failure and anaemia. Some babies can recover from foetal hydrops; however, the condition can be fatal.

There’s no evidence that having slapped cheek syndrome during pregnancy causes birth defects or development problems later in childhood.

Well that was it wasn’t it, having had 5 miscarriages I am now exposed to something that adds more miscarriage risk at atime when it is most risky.  Epic!  Like I need more fucking risk!  I mean REALLY?  Aren’t I unlucky enough on that front, do I really need this shit too?  The only thing going for me in this is that I am 8 weeks and 5 days or 8 weeks and 3 days depending on whether you believe my dates or scans so I am technically under the 9 to 20 week scary stage but still: absolute fucking panic ensued.  I dialled 111 and waited.  A lovely lady took all of my details and told me to stay by my phone.  I quickly plugged it back in to charge and swapped messages with two of the mum’s, breaking the news to poor Kathryn on my predicament.  She of course did what we all would do and immediately apologised and I quickly told her there was no need: jeez don’t kids bring different viruses home all the time, how could we ever know what they are carrying and sharing at any one time?

After an eternity the phone rang and I spoke to a nurse who was lovely but did nothing to reassure me, quite the opposite in fact.  Incubation and contagious periods are 4  to 14 days before the rash and there is no knowing if you have it.  There is some good news in this as half term was last week so James and Sonny hadn’t seen each other but amongst hundreds of kids in the school they could all be passing it around willy nilly before and after the holiday and we are just waiting for it to come out so although James might not be ‘the one’ to pass it on, someone else could easily have been.  We ended our call with the nurse asking me to try not to worry (ha!) and I was advised to wait for a doctor to call in the next two hours.

I (stupidly?) continued to Google and found this:

Slapped cheek syndrome usually affects children. It’s thought that once you’ve been infected, you’re immune for the rest of your life. Studies have shown that 60% of adults in the UK have antibodies to parvovirus B19.

Had Sonny had Slapped Cheek and if so would he carry it home to me?  He’d had foot and mouth, chicken pox and I vaguely recall something to do with his face, was it Slapped Cheek?  Had I had it?  One of the other mum’s in the text conversation had been exposed when she was pregnant and had to have blood taken that proved she had the antibodies so didn’t need to worry, did I have them?  Well with mum being dead 22 years and a Dad that wouldn’t know if I’d lost an arm at some point I had no idea!  I read on, like a fool:

When to get advice

See your GP or midwife as soon as possible if you’re pregnant and you think you’ve come into contact with slapped cheek syndrome. You should do this whether you develop a rash or not. There’s no routine screening test for slapped cheek syndrome in pregnancy.

Your GP will do a blood test. If you test positive for the virus in your first 20 weeks of pregnancy, you will be offered ultrasound scans throughout your pregnancy to monitor your baby. If your baby develops foetal hydrops, they may need a blood transfusion while still in the womb.

Just perfect.

So I waited.

And waited.

And fell asleep with my mobile in my hand.

And the phone rang at twenty seven minutes past midnight with a lovely gentleman on the other end telling me that they were horribly busy and as I wasn’t an emergency could I call back tomorrow.







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