Twin Update & New Painting Projects – Marianne Vander Dussen

Twin Update & New Painting Projects

Marianne Vander Dussen - Paddles for my Twins
Paddles for my Paddlers - I hand painted these using blank paddles from Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville.

36 weeks and 2 days. AHHHHHH, we DID it!

Despite being swollen, hot, and tired, there are several reasons why I'm celebrating the fact that I'm still pregnant with my twins. The first is because the average gestation for a twin pregnancy is 35 weeks instead of the usual 40. The second is because of our adventure at the 26 week mark.

Getting to Fly in an ORNGE Plane

Over the May long weekend, my husband and I rushed over to the hospital due to sharp abdominal pains. The medical staff ran a slew of tests, which revealed there was a possibility that I had developed a pregnancy-specific condition called HELLP, which essentially shuts down the mother's organs. The only cure is immediate delivery of the babies. The tests were inconclusive, which merited a flight down from North Bay to Mt. Sinai by ORNGE plane for further monitoring. We were warned in advance that the babies may not survive if they were delivered early, and if they did, we may be looking at lifelong medical complications.

It was terrifying. 

Long story short: babies are fine, I am fine, everybody is fine, and I'm still pregnant. My tests reversed course, and after two nights in Toronto we were able to return home to North Bay. I am still incredibly grateful to the talented and fast-acting team at NBRHC, including my OB and the nursing staff; I received the best possible care under their talented and compassionate watch. The people who work in that hospital are unsung heroes who deserve medals of honour and as many ponies as their hearts desire.

Thank a Nurse

Since my last blog post in February, I've been a little busy with...

  • Wrapping up my paint classes, since I could no longer carry heavy materials and wanted to spend more evenings/weekends with my family,
  • Teaching up a storm, which sadly had to end at the 26 week mark after my adventure in Toronto,
  • Preparing the house for the twins, and
  • Trying to decide if I would continue to paint after they were born.

Re-evaluating EVERYTHING

Whoa wait, what?! Giving up painting?! Isn't that, like, your passion?

Just follow me here. When it started to really sink in that I was going to be a mom, I started to look at my life through the eyes of a newborn. I saw the good, the bad, and the very ugly. One of the things I was most unsettled by was my addiction to technology. I didn't want my babies to think that it was normal for people to be inseparable from their smartphones.

After finding ample research that supports my theory that technology has built a generation of distracted phone addicts (click on the link for a brilliant TED talk on this), I decided to give up my personal Facebook profile entirely. I also deleted my Instagram app off my phone.

The Effect of Screen Time

In doing so, I felt strangely liberated. I say "strange" because I literally had no idea what to do with all the free time I'd suddenly been handed. I've been on social media for over a decade; how do I spend my time when I'm not endlessly scrolling?

I also started to reflect upon how much I had been craving social media validation for my artistic work. I'd long stopped feeling internal artistic satisfaction; instead, I only cared if others had liked my work. Instagram and Facebook were particularly bad for this; I had started to worry almost obsessively about gaining new followers. It was very, very unhealthy.

I recognized that I had some work to do on my relationship with art. I decided to give up painting, then wait and see if I missed it at all. I figured that if I decided to return to it, I could do so as a fresh start, and really reconsider my entire approach; how I spent time in the studio, how I reacted to criticism, and how I dealt with my often crippling perfectionism. 

Spoiler: I miss painting.

I'll be starting again after the boys are born.

But I may experiment with different styles and subject matter. I love painting landscapes, especially those situated in Northern Ontario, but I've been really interested in the work of Thomas Darnell lately, and I kind of just want to paint some flowers. I may even take a more impressionistic approach to my landscape work. Who knows? All I know is that I'm looking forward to trying again now that I've had a break. I may even have fun with art again, now that I'm realizing that I haven't even really discovered what my style really is.

Mel’s Peonies by Thomas Darnell
Mel's Peonies, 55cm x 136cm, by Thomas Darnell

Which is the very long explanation as to why there has been no new paintings shown on my website or Facebook page in a long time. I've just joined the North Bay Art Association, and by extension the Northern Ontario Art Association, and I'm excited to meet some of the other members in the upcoming September meeting. I am hoping to get a few small works into local Christmas shows, and also work on some larger pieces for my own home. Most of my own walls are bare. I want a huge peony painting for my living room, and a few other smaller pieces for around the house. 

Becoming a mom has me excited, scared, and full of trepidation. Restarting my art practice has me feeling the exact same way (albeit on much lesser scale). But I'm ready for both. The nursery is waiting. The studio is waiting. And I should (hopefully soon) have more work ready for you to see. 

Until then, wish me luck with my upcoming baby arrivals!

Marianne Vander Dussen - Artist with Paddles
36 weeks, 2 days...I have intentionally cropped my ankles because they are technically now cankles.

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