I recently had the chance to read the book Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood by Kasey Mathews. The book chronicles the journey of one tiny baby's tenacious struggle to hold on to life and the mother who ultimately grew with her. It's a story that I could relate to not only as a mother, but as an aunt to 2 premature nephews, one who went from fitting in the palm of a hand to a now healthy energetic little boy and the other who is still a young baby facing daily struggles with his health. This book took me on such an emotional journey and gave me such a greater appreciation to the roles and responsibilities us mothers take on.
A glance into the book:
"In her early thirties, Kasey Mathews had it all: a loving husband, a beautiful two-year-old son, and a second baby on the way. But what seemed a perfect life was shattered when she went into labor four months early, delivering her one-pound, eleven-ounce daughter, Andie.
The first time Kasey was wheeled into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), nothing prepared her for what she saw: a tiny, fragile baby in a tangle of tubes and wires. All at once, Kasey was confronted with a new and terrifying reality that would test the limits of love, family, and motherhood."
While reading the book I was able to take a look into what a woman who gives birth to a premature baby may deal with. Things that I hadn't really realized until now--the loneliness, the impact of trauma that a mother has to cope with, the roller coaster of emotions as premature children go from one health scare to the next. But as I got further and further into the book, I found myself gaining such a strong appreciation for motherhood. People often forget just how much is involved!! The truth is, every woman with babies--full term or not--is faced with trials and situations to deal with. Every day there is a mother struggling to overcome things in her life. How great it is to see such strong and courageous women endure and end up with such powerful and enlightening stories! The book just re-afirms my belief of the power of love!
Biographile did a little Q&A with author Kasey Mathews, and I thought I would share some things I liked:-
Biographile: What compelled to write a memoir about your experience of giving birth to your premature daughter?
Kasey Mathews: When she was born so early -- 25 weeks into my pregnancy -- I was terrified, completely lost, and incredibly alone. I had a healthy two-year-old at home, and I wanted nothing to do with a pound-and-a-half baby who didn’t look like any human baby I’d ever seen. For years I carried around tremendous guilt and shame that I’d felt that way about my own child. I searched for a book where someone else had expressed those same emotions. Eventually, I gave up my search, but decided that I couldn’t have been the only person to ever feel that way, and if no one else was going to say it out loud, I would. I wrote “Preemie” because I wanted others to know that they are not alone.
B: When your ob-gyn points out that your ongoing anxiety may in fact be PTSD [post- traumatic stress disorder], you question his judgment. Why?
KM: I believed PTSD was an affliction of soldiers and others who’d been in a war zone. I hadn’t known that PTSD is a common affliction of “preemie” parents. But once I learned more about it, it made perfect sense because in many ways, the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] is like a war zone. With all of the harrowing ups and downs, the surgeries and medical interventions, most parents are left completely frayed and petrified. And the story doesn’t end there. Once those babies leave the NICU, life at home with a preemie can be incredibly chaotic, lonely, and debilitating. Without the daily support of the NICU doctors, nurses, and therapists, parents often find themselves lost and isolated in their new life at home.
B: What would you say is the turning point of the story?
KM: When Andie turned two, I thought we were out of the woods, and I finally let my guard down and allowed myself to fall head over heels in love with her. Then she contracted RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which is every preemie parent’s worst nightmare. We were in the emergency room when the doctor said to us, “Her X-rays have me freaked,” and “It will be up to her whether she chooses to make it,” and all my old fears came flooding back in. Once again, I ran away from my daughter, just as I’d done when she was born. I stood outside the hospital crying into the phone to everyone in my family, “We might lose her.” It wasn’t until I dialed my yoga teacher that everything changed. She very calmly and clearly told me to hang up the phone, go back into that hospital room, put my hands on my daughter’s chest and breathe for her. And I did. And that was really the turning point when I finally stepped up and was there for my child.
B: How is your daughter doing today?
KM: The photo of Andie on the front cover of the book says it all. She’s always moving forward and living life to its fullest. She’s not afraid to try anything, whether it’s ski racing, horseback riding, surfing, or exotic foods. She’s fascinated by cultures around the world and every month eagerly anticipates the arrival of her National Geographic magazine. Lately, she’s expressed deep sorrow over Tucker turning 13, saying that she misses the “little boy he used to be.” Andie is also fiercely competitive, impossible to get in the shower, quick to slam a door, and sometimes a total pain in the ass. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the beginning of the book Kasey writes, "Your story and mine are sure to be different, but if hearing my story allows you a moment away from yours, if it leaves you with a sense of hope, then this story was worth writing down." I believe this book, Preemie: Lessons in Love, Live, and Motherhood is sure to have an impact on all those who read it!
You can purchase the book Preemie from Amazon.com and for more information check out www.KaseyMathews.com
A big THANK YOU to Kasey Mathews for providing me with a copy of her book Preemie to review. I was not compensated for this review. I receive product(s) for free so that I can provide my insight and experience. These are my honest opinions. Your experience may vary.