Then Something Scary Happens

I am always concerned for Dawn and Dawn's health. I've always been a little overprotective; even though I try and rein in my most irrational protective impulses I see myself being a little crazy sometimes. But then, looking at it another way, Dawn sometimes seems so totally oblivious to things like oncoming traffic--``They'll stop,'' she says confidently, and I answer, ``Yes, but maybe on you.'' She never notices dangerous conditions like icy roads and natural hazards like rocks falling from the sky. She needs me to look out for her.
  And sometimes something scary happens and it's something I didn't foresee at all and that makes me worry even more.
  Dawn and I sing in the Glee Club at our alma mater. Even though we graduated years ago, we still keep going back. It's a bit silly, yes, but there's something enjoyable about it, too. Dawn joined during her freshman year at college and dragged me in our sophomore year and we haven't left since. For me, I guess I stick around because Dawn does, and I'm not sure why she does.
  In any case, the Glee Club performs a couple of times a semester. Dawn was thinking about just coming to rehearsals but not performing on stage because, after all, she's pregnant. But we knew of two of our friends who had performed while they were pregnant, so I tried to tell Dawn to stick it out, that it would be no big deal.
  And for our first performance it wasn't. She wasn't thrilled about it, to be sure, but then no one really enjoys standing in one place for almost two hours on a little stage singing old standards. Well, maybe some people enjoy some part of it, but I don't know anyone in good enough shape to walk away from a performance undrained. And the old standards don't help.
  Our second performance--which was on campus, where the previous concert was in a nearby church--was another matter. It was amazingly hot onstage. We sang the first half and had our break, and then we sang the second half. Just before the second-to-last song I saw Dawn scurry off of the stage. I figured she had to go to the bathroom really badly, but I was a little concerned, since it usually would take a lot more than just a call of nature to make Dawn leave the stage in the middle of a concert.
  Then I saw someone come in to the back of the room in which we were performing and get our friend Elizabeth. She left the room. Now I was really worried, because there was only one person she could be going to see: Dawn. Something was wrong if Dawn was sending for Elizabeth. This wasn't just a bathroom trip.
  But I couldn't get down to see what was going on because, unlike the sopranos where Dawn stands, the baritones--my section--are all the way up on risers. In order for me to get down I'd have to disrupt the entire concert mid-song. I didn't know what to do. I figured Elizabeth could help as much as I could and knew that we were only a couple of minutes short of finishing the concert; I just hoped everything would be okay.
  Finally we finished singing our last song, the Alma Mater of our school, and bowed and got off the stage. I tried to hurry and find Dawn but found everyone from the Club in my way shuffling along. I pushed as much as I could and at last forced my way through to the bottom of the stairs. At the bottom a small group of people had gathered with Dawn in the middle wearing Elizabeth's big green wool coat, huddled on the steps. As I rushed up to her I saw that the campus security guards had arrived. I reached the small knot of people.
  ``Are you the father?'' the security guard asked me.
  If I hadn't been so worried about Dawn I would have been stunned by that--``the father''. I am the father. My goodness. I told him yes and got close enough to see Dawn's face.
  ``What happened?'' I asked, falling into the grade-B melodrama script.
  She looked okay. Her makeup had run a bit and her face was red, but she looked okay. Doctor Joe--who's been in Glee Club even longer than we have by about ten years--came up to us and asked the same thing.
  ``I don't know,'' Dawn said. ``It started to get really dark and I couldn't see, so I ran off stage.''
  ``The EMTs are coming,'' the guard told me.
  Doctor Joe rested his hand on Dawn's shoulder and looked at me. ``It was probably just the heat of the lights--it was hot onstage,'' he said. ``She'll be okay.''
  Within a couple of seconds the Emergency Medical Technicians arrived and took down what Dawn could tell them: She was standing there on stage singing when her vision got narrower and narrower until she couldn't see even the director any more. She was just about ready to fall over and was only being held up by the sopranos around her when she ran off the stage. Then she found that she was really cold, so she sent for Elizabeth, who gave her her coat. Apparently it was Elizabeth who went to get security.
  The EMTs took her blood pressure and pulse rate while I gave our personal information to another member of the campus security. The EMTs pronounced that she looked okay and had probably just overheated, but she might want to come to the hospital anyway. I asked Dawn if she wanted to go. She said she'd be all right.
  The first security officer took me aside. ``You going to take her to the hospital?'' he asked.
  I thought about it. The nearest hospital to our old school is a very urban hospital with an urban emergency room. I know people who have waited over six hours with a broken ankle waiting to get looked at, never mind X-rayed. I understand it's an excellent hospital once you get upstairs--you can just end up waiting for the rest of your life to get there. I wasn't sure that Dawn needed that.
  ``Dawn,'' I asked, ``Do you want to go to the hospital?''
  If anything she dislikes that emergency room more than I do.
  ``I'll be fine,'' she answered.
  ``Are you covered?'' the guard asked me, almost conspiratorily.
  ``What? Yeah, yeah,'' I said, starting to lose the point of the conversation.
  ``It can't hurt,'' he told me. ``If it were my wife and baby--'' he trailed off meaningfully.
  He had a point. I thought about it some more. Well, Doctor Joe said she'd be okay, and his diagnosis matched mine, so I figured she would be okay.
  ``We'll be okay,'' I said.
  ``All right,'' the guard said dubiously. ``You're gonna go straight home, right? No parties, no movies, just straight home and rest, right?''
  ``Yes, straight home and rest.''
  ``Okay,'' he said finally.
  We went home and rested as ordered. Dawn felt better by the time we got home. And what an outpouring of concern we got: It seemed like everyone was calling us to make sure she was okay. There are days when Dawn can't get a seat on the train to work, but as soon as something goes awry, it's everybody's baby. That's a pretty good feeling.

At our next doctor's visit we told Doctor Number Two about what had happened.
  ``You were standing a long time, right?'' she asked Dawn. ``And the lights were very hot, and you got dizzy and everything went dark. Well, the simple truth is, you fainted. It happens. When you stand a while, the blood pools in your legs, and if you have low blood pressure as pregnant women tend to--and you do--then, with this big sink in your stomach, your head doesn't get enough blood, and there you go.''
  Fainting, like the heroine in an old silent movie. Just like that. Well, at least Dawn and the baby were okay. But I was scared for a bit there.
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