We received a complimentary copy of Spinning: Choreography for Coming Home in exchange for this review. All words and opinions are that of the reviewer.
In her new memoir, Spinning: Choreography for Coming Home, author Janine Kovac effortlessly weaves the story of the premature birth of her twins and her past as a professional ballerina.
Early in her pregnancy, Kovac learns her twins are monoamniotic-monochorionic (referred to as mono-mono). As identical twins, they not only share the same placenta, but the same amniotic sac as well. Mono-mono twins are extremely rare, occurring in 1 out of 35,000 to 1 in 60,000 pregnancies. In her first visit to a high risk clinic, doctors warn Kovac and her husband, Matt, of the risks associated with the pregnancy: cord compression, where one twin may compress the other’s cord, cutting off essential nutrients; and cord entanglement, in which the cords become tangled and twisted, hindering movement, development, or even causing choking.
Kovac and her husband are informed that survival rates among mono-mono twins are around fifty percent.
As a former professional ballet dancer, Kovac is immensely in tune with her body and its abilities, and she decides early on that she will defy expectations, while still remaining cautious and cognizant of the risks her pregnancy holds.
Never tell a ballet dancer – even one who has not been on the stage in over a decade – what her body can and cannot do.” – Janine Kovac, Spinning
When Kovac takes part in a radio show giving the parent perspective on prematurity and the stress parents may feel, she is stunned when the other guest, a neonatologist, rattles off the many risks babies born extremely premature face. While her babies have since graduated from the NICU, she is unprepared to hear the doctor say that 68% of all babies born at 25 weeks still have noticeable cognitive difficulties at age 19. It’s the first time she has allowed herself emerge from the survival mode many NICU (and twin) parents endure and really consider what the future may or may not hold for her boys, due to their prematurity.
The story of Kovac’s pregnancy, premature birth, and NICU stay intertwine with her ballet past and its abrupt end due to injury. She moves the story along, giving readers a peek into the ballet world and how it shaped her as a person, eventually giving her hope in her children’s harrowing situations. Will her NICU journey help her find closure in both parts of her life?
NICU parents will relate to so many aspects of Kovac’s story – the helplessness of having little control over her high-risk pregnancy, the uncertainty of her boys’ premature birth, the terror when one of her boys comes down with an inexplicable high fever.
Spinning is not just the story of premature birth. It’s the story of a mother’s growth and resolution, a story of finding a new stage on which to shine.