My boyfriend was spending all his time in the loo. But was his stomach ache something more sinister?
By Leigh Broad, 35, from Dorset
I held the small white stick in my hand as butterflies swirled in my stomach. After a few minutes, two blue lines began to appear. I turned to my boyfriend Daniel and a huge grin spread across his face.
“I’m pregnant!” I cried.
“You’ll be the best mum ever,” he replied, scooping me into a huge hug.
We’d only been together for a year after meeting on a dating site. Daniel was handsome and charming and within months I’d moved over 200 miles from my home in Blandford Forum, Dorset, to live with him in London.
I was so sure Daniel was The One that I couldn’t wait to have a baby with him. He felt the same.
He told me: “I’m desperate to be a dad.”
For the first few months of my pregnancy, Daniel was amazing. He came with me to all of my appointments and was always rushing around after me.
“Put your feet up and I’ll make us a nice cuppa,” he’d say, plumping the cushions on the couch.
“You’re too good to me,” I’d reply, beaming from ear to ear.
One night, when I was about four months gone, we were cuddling on the sofa as usual when Daniel seemed distracted. He kept glancing over at his phone, which was beeping every two seconds.
“Who are you texting?” I asked. “They’re keen!”
“Oh, just a mate,” he said. “I’m just going to pop to the loo. I’ve got a bit of a dodgy tummy.”
He picked up his phone and ran upstairs at breakneck speed. An hour later, there was still no sign of him so I knocked on the bathroom door.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” he said. “You head off to bed. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be here for a while.”
I thought: Poor Daniel. He must have picked up a bug…
The next night, he spent two hours on the pan and the night after that, he wasn’t any better.
He told me: “I’ve got a condition called irritable bowel syndrome. I must be having a flare up.”
“You poor thing,” I said. “Hopefully you’ll be better soon.”
Still, something didn’t quite add up. Daniel had never mentioned bowel problems before now and his tummy ache never seemed to strike when we were out with friends or at the shops.
And every time he disappeared off to the loo, he’d take his phone with him.
Maybe he needs some entertainment, I reasoned. After all, he’s always in there for hours!
As my pregnancy progressed, Daniel’s bowel problems showed no signs of improving – but he seemed reluctant when I suggested visiting a doctor.
He said: “I’ve had it for years. There’s nothing they can do.”
In time, my waters broke and he came with me to the local hospital.
“How is your stomach?” I asked, as I was wheeled into the labour ward. I was terrified he’d be on the loo while I was giving birth!
“I’ll survive,” he replied, gripping my hand.
Soon, my contractions were getting closer but Daniel was always nipping out, either to the loo or for a cigarette. As usual, his phone was glued to his hand.
“Can you please stop texting?” I asked. “I’m about to give birth!”
My concerns melted away when baby Robbie* was placed on my chest and I saw tears glistening in Daniel’s eyes.
“He’s beautiful,” he said, as I cradled our son.
At first, Daniel was a hands on dad, helping with night feeds and changing nappies. Thankfully, he was also spending less time on the loo.
He told me: “I’m feeling much better now.”
But soon the reality of living with a newborn began to sink in and the nightly toilet marathons returned.
“Stress makes my condition worse,” Daniel explained.
I felt sorry for him but I couldn’t understand why his bowels only played up when Robbie needed to be changed or bathed.
Soon, he was disappearing to meet friends most nights and coming home at 3am.
“I might as well enjoy myself if I’m feeling well enough to meet the lads,” he said.
Inside, I was seething but I was so exhausted I didn’t have the strength to argue. But one night, after a particularly lengthy toilet trip, Daniel fell asleep with his phone in his hand.
When it fell to the floor, curiosity got the better of me and I started to scroll through some of his texts. He’d put a password on his phone but I guessed it after a few attempts.
My eyes nearly popped out on stalks as a picture of Daniel in the buff popped up on the screen… and it hadn’t been meant for me!
He’d sent it to a girl called Molly*. I skimmed through their messages and saw that she’d sent him some private pictures of her own.
Underneath a shot of herself in some skimpy lingerie, she’d written: Just for you, babe.
My heart was hammering in my throat, but as I studied Daniel’s pictures closely I noticed something else.
I thought: Those are my bathroom tiles!
I scrolled through Daniel’s internet history too and discovered he’d been sending his saucy bathroom selfies to dozens of women on Facebook, too.
The conversations showed he’d met some of them on a dating site he’d joined behind my back. He’d bumped into others while he was out with his mates, leaving me home alone with Robbie.
He’d even asked to meet some of them for sex. I choked back tears as reality dawned.
I thought: I’ve been so stupid. Daniel doesn’t have bowel problems.
Instead, he was using his marathon toilet sessions to get snap happy with his female admirers.
The next morning, I waited until Daniel had woken up before I thrust his phone in his face. He might not have had bellyache, but he would certainly be getting some earache!
“Can you explain these photos?” I demanded.
Panic flashed across his face as he snatched the phone from my hands.
He said: “I have a password on my phone. You have no right to be snooping.”
“You have no right to be taking naked pictures of yourself in our bathroom and sending them to other women!” I spat back. “Especially when you’ve told me you’ve got a dodgy tummy!”
Daniel’s face flushed scarlet as he realised he’d been caught in the act.
“I’m leaving,” I went on. “And I’m taking Robbie with me.”
Daniel fell at my feet and started crying, begging for another chance.
“We’re a family,” he sobbed. “I made a mistake. Please don’t do this.”
I was hesitant but Daniel swore he’d never send another bathroom selfie and I soon felt myself softening.
I didn’t want Robbie to grow up without his dad so I agreed to give him another chance. Over the next year, we had our ups and downs and I fell pregnant with our daughter, Lily*.
But the trust was gone forever. Daniel still took his phone everywhere and whenever he popped to the loo, I’d feel suspicious.
Shortly after Lily was born, I discovered Daniel had been messaging other women again and we split up for good. I should have known that a leopard never changes its spots.
Now, I’ve moved back to Dorset to be closer to my family and I’m coping well as a single mum.
The kids still see their dad but there’s no way back for us as a couple. I never thought Daniel’s visits to the loo would reveal something far dirtier than a sore stomach.
At first, I was devastated but now I’m looking to the future. I’m so glad I lifted the lid on his toilet troubles – and flushed out my rat for good!
Daniel Lewis, 30, told Take a Break: “You could say that we broke up because of the pictures and messages. I made mistakes Leigh wasn’t happy with, end of story.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities