Google Is Not A First Time Parent's Friend

11/10/2016 17:05

A journey of awe and astonishment, trepidation and fear started with a simple moan. "My teeth hurt."

Six weeks pregnant and with no signs of gestation other than a couple of positive tests and a permanent grin on her face, I scoffed at my wife's suggestion that her aching molars could somehow be down to her condition.

"Look it up," she advised.

Now there was a time when "look it up" would mean reaching on the shelf for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Marjorie Proops' Pregnancy Bible or Debrett's Guide to Delivering an Heir. Well-researched organs designed to alleviate stress.

"Yes aching teeth are a possible side-effect of pregnancy," they would tell us "but it's perfectly normal and should subside within days/weeks." And a good night's sleep would be had by all.
Now we have the internet and one press of "return" on a search engine can bring up all manner of first-hand horror experiences and second-rate advice from women who have watched the box set of Call the Midwife and now consider themselves an armchair Chummy Browne.

No one, it seems, wants to draw your attention to something they think is "probably nothing." We're talking nightmare scenarios that will send you into a meltdown as you convince yourself you have all the same symptoms.

"My sister-in-law lost sight of all her teeth because her gums swelled up over them," babydust exclaimed on the first pregnancy forum we visited. "Best go to the dreaded dentist."

Dismissing her as a Roald Dahl tribute act, I scrolled further down the page.

"Pregnancy hormones can cause gingival hyperplasia," said Mum44. Mum didn't go on to tell us what gingival hyperplasia was but neither word sounded particularly positive and put together sounded positively life-threatening.

"I got Tooth Moose," announced another.

It turned out Tooth Moose was an ointment to alleviate the pain of sore gums but the damage was already done as far as my panicked wife was concerned.

"Do you think I've got moose tooth too?" she fretted.

And our anxiety was only just beginning.

Coming out of the thread on teeth and gums we returned to a main menu with a myriad of topic headings for pregnancy related symptoms we'd not considered.

"Gestational diabetes," "swelling hands," "restless leg syndrome," "itchy feet," "high blood pressure," "low blood pressure," "belching."

What happened to the pregnancy "glow" I read about in glossy magazines whenever a celebrity fell pregnant?

Another thread listed all the foodstuffs you shouldn't eat. They may have well been making an inventory of our fridge. My wife's teeth went from itchy to much gnashing at the discovery she won't be having soft cheese on her crackers for a while.

Now Tim Berners-Lee is widely lauded for inventing the World Wide Web, he even got to stand up and wave at the opening ceremony of London 2012, but I have a feeling I will come to curse his clever brain for the next nine months and beyond.

Having found out about a lot that can go wrong, I reminded myself that, having fallen pregnant, the odds of having a healthy baby are in our favour. You'd do well to remember this every time you turn on your computer.

You should also bear in mind that the NHS have a website. They also got a much bigger billing than Tim at the Olympic ceremony (a whole segment of summersaults on hospital beds as against a two second wave). They are dishing out the same sensible, calming advice they have been doing so for 70 years so I think I'll follow Danny Boyle's lead when placing the information I receive about pregnancy in order of its legitimacy.

"My teeth still hurt," said my wife as I shut the laptop down.

After all the information I'd taken in that evening, so did my head.