Pregnancy Diary Week 12: i360
As a child I was always a lover of fairground rides and would fearlessly relish any opportunity to whoosh through the air or plummet to the ground, whether at a shiny, big theme park or a slightly shabby, local fairground. On a holiday of a lifetime in California aged ten, I dragged our family friend (with whom we were staying) round all the major rides at Disney World and Magic Mountain. As a local who had experienced most of these rides before, he was incredibly good natured about this. His only moment of reservation, a slight waver at the top of Collossus, one of the tallest wooden rollercoasters in the world, when he flippantly but nervously announced: “I can see my house from here!”. At this I replied: “I can see my fucking house from here!”. The absurdity of my statement and ensuing nosedive rather fortunately excusing my ten year old self a severe telling off for use of the F word. A triumphant day all round. However, adulthood has given me a somewhat more sober approach to adrenaline based experiences and I am really not very good with heights or rides any more. Watching a video of my best friend doing a bungee jump several years back made me feel altogether a bit faint, quite to my surprise. I can only put this down to the sobering reality of adulthood and an accompanying awareness of one’s impending death, which I now, unlike in my youth, feel shouldn’t be unnecessarily tempted. Becoming a parent has taken this perspective to a new level and this was particularly evident this weekend. We had visitors to stay and decided to take them to the Brighton i360, where all five of us, including our 19 month old son, experienced the 450ft ascent of the tower and 26 mile views. We were lucky to have the most beautiful day for it and the sun came out as we began the slow and steady climb, taking in the sparkling surroundings, swanky champagne bar (orange juice for me — sigh), and pristinely uniformed British Airways “flight attendants”, all adding to the sense of occasion. However, minutes in, I was struck with an intense feeling of fear, driven by a horrifying awareness of mortality, not only mine but that of my husband, my son and our unborn child, as I imagined our entire family plummeting to our deaths. This was of course completely irrational, but something I could not escape for the duration of the 20 minute journey. This rendered me a silent and gibbering wreck, and all I could do to pass the time was mindlessly track my son around the pod in anticipation of him launching himself at the glass, or perhaps worse, head-butting one of the many loitering champagne drinkers in the crotch. Completely unlike me, he seemed totally enthralled by the whole experience, running around, pointing, and looking out and down, hands and face pressed gleefully against the glass, much to my stomach churned horror. I was incredibly conscious of my own irrationality, not wanting to show any visible signs of fear, which might have a negative impact on him. A glazed grin fixed to my face: “Wow! Look! It’s soooooo cool!” [Inwardly: “We can actually see our fucking house from here!”]. Although I’m a little embarrassed to admit the fear that this completely safe and potentially very beautiful experience conjured up in me, it also feels a little bit healthy to have a sense of one’s own mortality and to know that isn’t something to be toyed with. This is particularly so when you have taken on the responsibility of rearing small humans (whether born or yet to be born). Such perspective seems to connect with a primal, maternal instinct to protect your children and your family, and by default yourself so that you can look after them. I don’t think this is something I have been quite so conscious of until now. And although I feel a little silly for realising this on the Brighton i360, it isn’t something I plan on forgetting.