featured post: “breaking dams” by gemini momma

One of my favorite books that I can always go back to is The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. The main character, Taylor Greer, has a smartly sassy, thoughtful and adventurous spirit, and her unique voice and strength of character are what most appealed to me and drew me in to her story. The plot itself has its merits, of course– Taylor, formerly Marietta, takes a new name and leaves rural Kentucky behind, driving her rickety Volkswagon as far as she can until the car breaks down in Arizona and unexpectedly acquiring a three-year-old travel companion along the way. Taylor’s personality is what really carries the story and makes me love her and her view of the world. (Sadly, the sequel to her story was told in the third-person voice and it just didn’t hold the same charm for me.)

All the reasons I love Taylor Greer are why I love Gemini Momma‘s blog. She has the strength in storytelling, a strong sense of fun, an understanding of her “blogging voice” and just enough sarcasm and wit to be accessible and smart without being unrelatable. Of course, there’s also the fact that she’s a mom to twin girls who are just slightly older than mine, as well; that alone makes her a valuable resource to me!

Her recent post “Breaking Dams” is brilliant because it distills some very complex emotions about infertility, high-risk pregnancy, and NICU time into a surprisingly relatable format– a dream.

It isn’t a story I relate to in a literal sense. My girls, though born a few weeks early, were technically full-term and never needed to spend time in the NICU. The pediatric team that was hovering in the corner when my C-section began and which descended upon the girls when they came out, the second a minute after the first, eventually left, having nothing to do. My girls were small, hovering just above and below five pounds, but they were hardy and healthy– and we were both grateful and lucky.

But it’s not really about the events themselves, sometimes, which is what Gemini Momma found when she had a dream about another mother with twins who appeared to be sick. It was how her brain was processing her own still-present grief, anxiety and fear:

Sometimes the dreams (or nightmares) happen because our brains are trying so hard to get these hard memories and feelings out of our heads and bodies, but they’ve gotten kind of trapped in there, leaving us to re-experience them over and over and over. To our brains and bodies, sometimes we’re still there, in that bad situation, and all that fear and worry and sensitivity we feel is real.

Sometimes, I still feel that fear. Sometimes I still feel that worry. Sometimes, I am that woman in the nicu, wondering if her babies are going to be okay. Sometimes, my own dam still breaks.

We may share the labels “mom of twins,” “mom of girls,” and “mom of young children,” but Gemini Momma and I don’t share identical “getting to motherhood” stories, nor did our children’s lives all begin the same way. None of that really matters, though. My girls weren’t in the NICU, but Chicken did stay behind in the nursery for two days to gain weight so she could keep her body temperature up. I knew at the time that she wasn’t in any real danger– she was hanging out in her isolette like she was sunbathing, and her funny charisma was strong enough even at five days old that the nursing students fought over who got to feed her– but as a post-op, hormonal new mom who was leaking blood and milk all over myself like crazy, I was a mess. Just thinking about the feeling of being wheeled out of the hospital, Ham in my arms, and passing the large window in the nursery where Chicken’s isolette lay makes me feel weak and weepy. I remember thinking, How do moms with just one baby DO this? How can anyone leave the hospital with empty arms, knowing their baby is going to be away from them for the night… or worse, what if they have suffered the unthinkable…? My brain could not process it. I focused hard on staring into Ham’s face, on not crying for her sake, of not correcting pleasant strangers by letting them know that yes, I was happy to be taking my baby home, but her sister was still upstairs.

Early motherhood, biological or not, is viscerally powerful. Sleeplessness, anxiety, the constant sense of being cranked up to eleven with no breaks– even sleep in those days is often uncomfortable and restless (I always had the sensation of floating along half-awake or of slamming into a wall of sleep that was hard to rouse from). Gemini Momma’s dream, and her interpretation of it, really hits on the ways in which we power through those early days, but the residue hangs behind in our brains. It will always be there, of course, in some form– it’s part of our stories– but eventually, we can start to move on.

Today I am grateful for my present reality. For healthy babies. For french toast. For the dreams that come and go on random and rare occasions, but are few and far between at this point… My ultimate interpretation of the dream is that my psyche is learning to finally acknowledge that that is not the current me. That is another woman: the me of 14, 18, 23 months ago. I am no longer in those realities of trying to conceive, being pregnant, or having tiny babies in isolettes. My reality is motherhood.

To read her full post “Breaking Dams,” visit Gemini Momma’s blog, Three Geminis and a Sagittarius. Comments here are closed to encourage everyone to connect directly with her.

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  1. […] was still “that woman in the nicu wondering if her babies were going to be ok.”  See Jules’ reflections and share your own thoughts on this often overlooked […]

  2. […] Breaking Dams by Gemini Momma (processing, NICU, anxiety) […]

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