My mother was seven months pregnant when, on examination, a medical student heard two heartbeats. This is how she discovered she was having twins. Now she would have to get two of everything. From that day onwards she had to visit the hospital frequently and finally in the last six weeks she was on complete bed rest. Not an easy task with two other young children at home.
I was born in Cornwall Park Maternity Hospital on the edge of One Tree Hill Domain. The hospital was originally built as an army base in the Second World War and was later requisitioned for use as a maternity hospital for Auckland. Our family lived in Orakei and the hospital was not very accessible even by bus, so my father cycled an hour each way to see my mother.
I remember, later sitting in a cardboard box alongside my twin —we had a box each —under the clothesline while my mother hung out the washing. Rinso boxes they were, just the right size to accommodate us. Having a twin meant I always had a playmate. Mum shifted our boxes around the house so that she could get the housework done and keep us out of trouble. I think this is my own memory but I can’t be sure because there is a photo in my family album of the two of us in our boxes, so maybe the image has generated this story.
My father was very proud of having twins, ‘the twinnies’ he called us. I imagine it did wonders for his virility. I have many photos of him sitting proudly with one of us on each knee.
We were born the year before the new queen visited Auckland, and my parents told me how they stood proudly at the roadside, each holding a twin and a flag as they waited to catch a glimpse of the queen being driven through the city to Whenuapai airport.