I’ve only ever dialled 999 for 2 reasons: when my house was on fire, and for an ambulance for my son.
I don’t remember much about the gap between dialling 999 and the fire engines arriving. Despite the smoke and the flames I never felt the situation was out of control. I quite enjoyed the thrill of it.
But I remember everything about the 8 minutes it took the ambulance to arrive the first time I called 999 for my son. I felt no sense of control.
Stanley was less than a month old. He had a hole in his larynx, although I didn’t know that then. He was clearly unwell, struggling to eat and breathe, but I never actually thought his life was at risk.
Doctors had reassured us. One had said “he’s not going to just stop breathing”.
Then he stopped breathing.
I remember noticing the panic in my body. Cold sweat and my heart beating. But I remember a sense of calm, doomed certainty too.
As his breathing became more shallow, I had called Gavin to ask if he could drive us to the hospital, as he had done before. I made the second call moments later, as Stanley’s skin turned from pink to blue.
And then those long 8 minutes. Holding my still, lifeless baby, waiting for the paramedics to arrive with their nebulisers and their oxygen.