jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Today is Your Birthdays (Twins, Actual Size)

blog.Reid and Mica - 10 minutes old

Reid and Mica. 10 minutes old.
October 9, 2008

Tim read in one of his edu-pedagogy books that it’s important for children to be connected to their family history. Each night at dinner we began adding to the lore of family yesteryear by sharing the meager stories of our own pasts. Tim’s grandfather the ice-hauler and my grandfather the steel mill worker made for quick stories. Shortly, we moved on to the much more recent past, their birth stories.

Oct. 9, 2013

This time five years ago I was in a hospital. What I remember is meager; candy canes hanging from the ceilings, bunnies crawling the walls and living fish swimming aggressively in my mid-section along with an insatiable thirst coupled with nausea; I was in my third day of labor, two days into a wild magnesium trip, already shot up with steroids and about to give birth to twins… two months early.


Mica and Reid, October 2013.

The weird thing was, I felt great: huge but invincible, unwieldy but gorgeous. The week before, we’d driven from Philly to Massachusetts for a job interview, been to a wedding, celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary and shopped Ikea hardcore. I was unstoppable. Like the Titanic.

That Monday, after a full day of work and a drive into Philly followed by a two block trek to the doctor’s office, I carried 17 month-old Jasper in one arm and a collapsed Peg Perego in the other and headed into my more or less weekly O.B. appointment. I was 31 weeks 3 days pregnant.

One look at my lady bits and the doctor told me I was headed across the street to the hospital. I was dumb-founded. “But I’m not due for two months.” And you must know what I said next, but not aloud… I failed at this. I. Failed. At. This. Because these babies were coming early. Way early.

I was docile. I was defeated. They strapped me up with monitors and Jasper sat in that crummy carriage in a diaper, no pants, having peed through his clothing, and he sucked his wee baby thumb. The doctors hovered and hustled, administering shots, inspections and ultrasounds.

Fast forward over the magnesium and my 48 hour stay in the room we affectionately call the opium den, from which I drunk-magnesium-dialed all my friends to tell them about the fish swimming in me. After I’d finished absorbing whatever steroids I could, they cut me from the magnesium.  Because it’s poison, technically. “But if it keeps the babies in me, keep it flowing!” Turns out it’s bad for babies, too. Who knew?

The night before they were born was way more horrible than any of this, on so many levels. Tim  had finally gone home to rest, tucked his phone under his pillow and smothered it with sleep. I was going it alone.

I went into real labor, but it didn’t show up on monitors. Interns and residents floated in and out of my room. I tried to call Tim and then my mother but to no avail. After five hours I flipped through my phone and called someone I knew only as “Neighbor Nancy” and I told her the babies were coming but I couldn’t get my husband. At 5 am, the jig was up. Off to surgery we went.

I remember the nurse holding me for the epidural and telling me not to push because the babies would fall out. I may still have been high, but I really think she said that. She also said I was ten centimeters dilated. Isn’t a ten centimeter oval like a highway overpass for a premature baby?

I lay down. They strapped my arms down. When they moved my stomach I threw up. Then they pulled out baby A, Mica, and Tim was suddenly there, right over my shoulder. The Right Rabbi, “Neighbor Nancy” had banged on our drainpipe until she had woken him up.

Next came sweet baby girl B, Reid. Then they took the babies away and I didn’t see them for 36 hours.

twins (actual size) woodcut and collage on paper 2011

twins (actual size)
woodcut and collage on paper
Jennifer Groeber

I had pneumonia. I needed a blood transfusion. I was a bit of a mess.

The twins were healthy. 4 lb. 2 oz. and 3 lb. 14 oz. respectively. They would remain in the hospital for four and five weeks. They would require three years of therapy with early intervention. They would thrive. Today is their 5th birthday.

October 9, 2013

My dear children, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time a boy fell in love with a girl. They spooned, then they decided to marry. They wanted babies, but no babies came. After many years the girl’s belly finally got big and they got a baby! It was like magic. They loved this baby so much they wanted more babies.

The girl’s belly filled again and got bigger and bigger and bigger until POP! Out came two teeny, tiny perfect babies! Their home was so happy and so filled with love and laughter that the stork soon brought them a fourth baby without them even asking. And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

Also, your father almost missed your delivery because he fell asleep on his phone.

The end.

Happy birthday, Mica and Reid!

(P.S. Late night, while I was writing this, I heard a disgruntled child staggering down the hallway. So I went upstairs to find Mica headed to the potty. When I went in to assist him, he peed all over my shirt. And a little on my face. Happy birthday, my sweet. Mama loves you.)

8 comments on “Today is Your Birthdays (Twins, Actual Size)

  1. Kim
    October 10, 2013

    THAT is an insane birth story! You are awesome. Looking forward to birthday festivities!Am I your first commenter?

  2. jgroeber
    October 10, 2013

    You’re in the top three! Well, actually, there’s only three… Sigh. (Ha!) We’re planning a reenactment of the delivery at the birthday festivities. I was thinking we’d do it with sock puppets. And YOU are awesome for taking the time out of your likewise crazy day to read it and post. So thank you!

  3. kellyinrepeat
    November 10, 2013

    Parallel lives indeed. Artist, momma, 4 kids, hmmmm… Congrats to your sweet babes. All four of mine were preemies .. The magnesium trip is not one I wish on anyone. My first introduction to the drug was in 1996 and during most of my week long labor I thought I had been traveling in North Dakota. Maybe we should start a collaborative print 😉
    Xoxox k

    • jgroeber
      November 11, 2013

      Collaborative print? Count me in! (Perhaps the fish I thought were swimming in my belly were headed to North Dakota? All magnesium leads to North Dakota?) Thank you for reading, busy artist Mama. I know how precious time is and I appreciate your spending yours on this!

  4. Margie S
    March 15, 2014

    Been there, done that, too. I think I have mild PTSD from my deliveries, how brave of you to revisit. So sorry it was such a tough start, but you clearly have moved beyond it! You are so strong and your pictures are precious!

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      We just showed them video clips from when they were all born tonight. It just came up at dinner and we couldn’t help ourselves. They absolutely loved it. And this one clip of me at midnight feeding the twins (which I did for about 1 1/2 hours every 3 hours) made me laugh. I was just so bleary-eyed and annoyed and messy and Tim just kept filming. The kids loved watching it. And it made me realize both how near and far that time is now.

  5. Pingback: Who Doesn’t Love Dessert (Happy Birthday, Baby Girl) | jen groeber: mama art

  6. Pingback: Twin Posts: Mirror in the Sky | jen groeber: mama art

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2013 by in The Children, This One Contains Art, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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