Meet Zach and Max, both the architects of my happiness as well as the scallywags who ensure my living room is perpetually covered in a fine layer of play sand and Cheerios. Zach was born first, around the time of his father’s birthday, in a broken down Victorian era hospital in Cork City. I shared a room with a lady there who was on child number 7 and was homeschooling them all (!). She had her baby first, and was cuddling the child with visitors over on her side of the room while I was in labour. I knelt on the floor, bent over the bed, clutching a pillow, moaning with every contraction. The room was so small that my toes were poking under the faded, pink dividing curtain into her side of the room. She and her visitor carried on as if nothing else was happening, probably watching my toes curl with each wave of back pain. Zach arrived 12 hours after serious labour started, 3 days after my waters broke, and not a minute too soon.
Max also took 12 hours of labour, but was born in the fancy new maternity hospital we have here. I had my own room with a private bathroom. Everything was pristine. When I got there, I thought: how wonderful. This will be the blissful birthing experience all new mothers anticipate. I felt that way until 7 AM the following day arrived, and through my courtyard window I could hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM of a local radio station being played by the cafe below. And the food was crap. Give me the dark, faded, cracked but quiet Victorian place with great roast chicken anytime.
My two children couldn’t be more different in personality, food likes and dislikes, eye colour, and so on. But both are so precious. I tell myself this, repeating it like a mantra, whenever they hit me in the face, spill yogurt all over the sofa when I told them no food in the living room, hit each other, bite each other, pull my hair, break dishes, draw on my walls, and so on, and so on. Each day is a joy and an adventure and each day, they knock just a little bit off the value of the house.