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Leoni Online: The Articles — Sunday Express

Now our baby is OK, David and I are so changed. We just feel invincible By Martyn Palmer Tea Leoni describes those 10 days as the worst period of her life. She would have given anything not to go through it. But the experience of seeing her nine-month-old daughter come so close to death, and then recover, is something she will never forget – and she says that she and her husband, X Files star David Duchovny, have been changed completely by it. As she points out, once you’ve experienced that level of anguish you are never going to fret again in quite the same way about what kind of role Hollywood is going to offer you next. It’s called perspective, and the 34-year-old actress now places family way ahead of career or glamour. “I didn’t need that experience,” she says, referring to daughter Madelaine West’s illness earlier this year. “I really didn’t. But yes, something like that does give you perspective. More than anything else in life it’s the gloriousness of my family that I appreciate now. “It’s better than I hoped for in my wildest dreams. I never could have imagined a home life like this – and I grew up in a really good one. But when yours is this good, it’s just stunning.” It was in late January when baby West – Tea refers to her by her second name – was taken ill, at first with breathing problems, and rushed to hospital in Los Angeles near where the couple live. As the medical team fought to discover what exactly was the problem, her condition deteriorated – and Tea and David were warned that West would have to be tested for viral meningitis, a potential killer. “We had to give her a spinal tap at one point, which was very difficult,” she explains. “It required that somebody – me – hold the baby in a position so that they could stick a needle in her back. “It was extremely scary and painful – and you know that you may find out that your child is facing meningitis, which is not good news. “David said, ‘I think I should let you go in, you do this…’ because only one of us could be there. I said, ‘OK, but tell me now – if I weren’t here you would do it?’ He replied, ‘My God, you know I would…’.” Tea held her baby throughout the procedure and was given the news that the test was all clear. When she finally came out of the theatre to find David, he was nowhere in sight. “The nurse said, ‘Oh, your husband said he has gone out for a couple of hours. He’s going to bring back dinner, though’. And I thought, ‘How could you, where are you?'” In fact Duchovny, one of the highest- paid actors in the world, had run out of the hospital in his joy as soon as doctors had told him that the test on his daughter was clear. He needed to do something to celebrate and – rather bizarrely, some might say (although his wife would not agree) – he decided to get her name tattooed on his ankle. “He came in with this look in his eye,” says Tea with a smile. “And I instantly understood. I think that at the moment he had heard the test was clear and we were really coming out of the woods, he was so emotionally and spiritually altered that he physically wanted to go and mark it. I felt the same. “I remember talking to my mother, who said, ‘You know, not every mother has to face this’. She meant the real possibility of losing a child. And she said, ‘You’ll make it through, you will make it.’ And then when we did she said, ‘Now you have really arrived in motherhood’.” West was suffering from a respiratory virus coupled with bacterial pneumonia and eventually pulled through to make a full recovery. Now 19 months old, her mother hopes she will have plenty of brothers and sisters. “I want to have lots more. And I need to get on with that,” she laughs. And if that means taking time away from her career, then so be it. Her latest part, co-starring with Nicolas Cage in the romantic comedy The Family Man, is her first screen role for two years. Tea Leoni is a New Yorker from Polish and Italian stock, and motherhood obviously suits her. “At the moment the balance between being a mom and work is very easy because she can be with me. I think that may change later as she gets older and is in school and at that point I’ll have to reassess how to do it. I don’t know, but it’s brilliant right now.” She and Duchovny have been married for almost four years and Tea raves about his qualities as an “adoring dad”. They share a similar upbringing – Duchovny is Princeton educated and Leoni is also fiercely bright, from a family of lawyers – with one crucial difference, she says. Duchovny was the product of a broken home: his parents were divorced when he was still a child. And at times that background can make him a little insecure about his own parenting skills. “David’s a big family man – I mean, he was a family man before he was a dad. He’s taken to it very easily. He has a lot of time for West, he makes time for her and he is very interested in her and he’s a great listener to her. “And it’s funny because I think he’s had to learn by himself. He didn’t have his father around very often and so I think at times he’s not sure whether he’s doing it right. We all wonder at times if we are doing it right, but he pushes on, he doesn’t let that stop him or intimidate him. He adores her.” Leoni feels that her whole family has come through the fire. “Actors live with insecurity. But I do feel somewhat untouchable. I’m no longer vulnerable, in a way, to what this industry may throw into my face. I feel invincible. I don’t see how anything can hurt me.” And that, of course, has everything to do with perspective. The Family Man with Tea Leoni opens on December 22

Article courtesy of The Sunday Express and transcribed by Shalom147