I remember in the months and days leading up to his birth (I was the first person to have a child in my peer group of fellow Architects) I felt like I was heading off into a small railway siding, off the main track, a cul de sac of sorts. The rest of them continued on wards, down the line. I didn't actually feel any acute sadness at this. I knew in time, I would kick into reverse and then roll off to find them.
At the time, I was running an architectural practice with my husband. We were just beginning to pick up some momentum. We had a RIBA award under our belts for our first completed project and had been picked by the Architect's Journal for their '40 under 40' award scheme (40 promising, emerging architects working in the UK, under 40 years of age).
|New Architecture in Britain by Kenneth Powell, pg 86-87, Merrell Publishers Ltd, 2003|
In those earlier, over ambitious years, I declared confidently, standing by my drawing board in the undergraduate studio, "I'm going to have it all!". After all, that was what was expected of us, living in this post-feminist, liberated society.
However, I tended to work with and intensity and focus that was often to the detriment of my health and my relationships. To have it 'all' and work at the level I aspired to would mean sacrificing everything else. I had enough sense to know, with the whole of my heart and head, that I, personally, could not continue in this vein with a baby that would demand an intensity and focus all of its own.
10 years ago today, he came into this world, struggling to take his first breath. The cord that had sustained his growth and his life was perilously tightly wound around his delicate neck. With every contraction and the impeding delivery it pulled more tightly. Had I dug my heels in and stuck with the home birth that I had decided was my 'birth plan' I'm not sure he would have survived. Or perhaps he would have survived, but with sustained and serious damage.
As it was, something bigger intervened, I was two weeks overdue and so was booked in to be induced, the birth would therefore need to be closely monitored and this would mean giving birth in a hospital. It was not the start I had envisaged for the new life I was carrying, but thank God for the change of plans that were forced upon me. Without it, that new life might have been very short lived. I remember these details with sobriety.
Upon delivery, in a room full to the brim with doctors and nurses, with an Apgar score of 3 ('with a score of 3 or less your baby may need immediate lifesaving measures - resuscitation') he didn't cry, he didn't make a sound for what seemed like a very very long time. Nobody told us what was going on, there wasn't time, he was taken to a corner, under bright lights, and 4 amazing health practitioners brought our little boy back from the brink. He took his first breath, and whimpered with a mixture of hurt and confusion, so it seemed.
And it was in THAT moment, that we became parents.
And since then, that cul-de-sac, my derailment, well, I never did quite manage to kick it into reverse to get back onto that track, that track I was on, 10 years and a day ago. I'm probably still a little bit lost and under-prepared but I'm not scared anymore. I'm not at all where I expected I would be. But I'm here and I'm thankful of the time I was given when I gave up the pursuit of perfect professionalism. I wonder if I was saved from a future derailment or burnout further down that track? I'll never know.
All that remains to be said is... Happy birthday beautiful boy.