In Honor of National Parent’s of Preemies Day…

 

10 Lessons on Having a Preemie by Kasey Mathews

1.) You didn’t do anything wrong.  It is completely normal to feel guilty, ashamed and terribly afraid after giving birth to a preemie, but It Is Not Your Fault. You might never know Why your baby arrived early and sometimes you have to let go of the Why in order to move forward.

2.) Not everyone is a “baby person” and nurturing is not automatic for every mother, even mothers of full term babies.  It’s ok if you feel this way; many women do but don’t speak their feelings out loud.

3.) Speak your truth. Don’t let your fears and anxiety breed in the dark.  Bringing your deep felt emotions to light keeps them from growing and festering inside you.

4.) Motherhood can be lonely, even for mothers of full-term babies. Ask for help.  When others offer help, accept it.  By receiving with openness and grace, you are in fact giving in return. To show your vulnerability is to be at your greatest strength.

5.) Create a vision of your baby in the future and hold on to that vision.  Write a list of all your “some days” – walking on the beach, eating ice cream cones on a hot summer day, flying a brightly colored kite, lying in the grass looking for shapes in the clouds…

6.) Don’t believe everything the doctors tell you. Create your own expectations for your child and don’t allow your child’s potential to be limited by anyone else.  Use your voice.  Speak up for yourself and your baby.  You are your baby’s voice.

7.) Cover your baby’s isolet with a dark blanket.  If your NICU is too bright or too noisy, speak up.  Your baby will grow and heal best in a dark womb-like environment.  Post-NICU, explore alternative therapies to compliment traditional medical treatments, i.e. Reiki, energy healing, cranial sacral therapy, Brain Gym.

8.) If you can’t shake your deep anxiety, it’s highly likely you’re suffering from PTSD.  Posttraumatic Stress is very common among preemie parents. (Resources to help – EMDR, Support groups, Peer to Peer support through Hand to Hold, therapy, writing)

9.) Take care of YOU.  Like the oxygen mask on an airplane, you have to breathe first before putting the mask on your child. It’s ok to take time for yourself and let someone else care for your baby.

10.) Choose love over fear.  It’s the hardest thing in the world to love when you’re so afraid you might lose, but our babies came here to love and be loved.  And remember, no matter how bad things get, no matter how lonely you feel, You Are Not Alone.  Someone has walked this path before you and someday you’ll be on the other side sharing your story.

(Copyright – Kasey Mathews, 2012)

Happy Parents of Preemies Day. Deepest thanks to Graham’s Foundation for creating such a marvelous annual event!  Events are being held all over the country so be sure to look for one in your area! If not, there are lots of events being held online!

Deepest love and blessings to you all,

Kasey

Remember, I’ll be speaking at the Newbury New Hampshire Library Event today at 2:00 –

Author Event: Kasey Mathews
Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood – NH’s 2014 Reader’s Choice for Literary Non-Fiction!
Sunday, May 4th at 2:00PM in the Vets Hall
Kasey Mathews will read from her award winning memoir Preemie. There will be a discussion and book signing after the reading.

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tran·si·tion

Dearest Friends,

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, at this point written weeks ago, this fall has been a time of transition for our family.  When we moved to New Hampshire six years ago, we fell in love with a small Waldorf School on top of a hill and knew it was the safe, warm, healing place we’d been seeking for our children.  On top of another nearby hill, we found a 200-year-old house with fireplace hearths and apple trees and stone walls that whispered, “You’re home,” when we walked through the front door.  Others spoke to us of high schools and local school districts, but we loved the Waldorf School and the old house, and besides, high school was forever away.

And then six years passed…

and Tucker was graduating from 8th grade, his last year at Waldorf.  And suddenly the issue of high school and school districts was upon us.  And Tuck fell in love with a school 45 minutes away from our old home on top of the hill.  And I wondered how I’d get him to that new school, and Andie to her 7th grade class in the Waldorf School.

And thus began even more transition.

And we soon discovered that our dear Andie is a child resistant to change, a child who needs an enormous amount of time to process decisions.  Ultimately, she chose to move to the school where her brother had enrolled, but it was a spring and summer full of tears and great angst.  And as much as Lee and I knew that new school was a wonderful fit for her, the frequent nights she cried herself to sleep left us lying in bed, wide-eyed, questioning our decision.

And now here we are, a month into the new school year, with all those questions behind us, knowing that both children are exactly where they’re meant to be, broadening and thriving in their new school.

And I finally let out an enormous exhale, only to find that I’m absolutely wrung dry.

And all I want is for all of this change to be over and behind us.

“I think we’re passed the transition phase,” I said to Lee last week.  “That we’ve got this all figured out.”  Because that’s what I do – jump in with both feet, give it everything I’ve got and aim for the finish line.  Only once again, I’ve come to find out that the finish line doesn’t exist.

That transition is perpetual.

transitionthe process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.

And isn’t that just what we’re constantly doing “changing from one state or condition to another” in each and every moment of everyday?

Walking through the woods this past weekend, thinking about transition and where I am in my life right now, the same question kept running through my mind… What’s next?…  What’s next?… What’s next?  I walked in rhythm to that chant until I hardly recognized it was there. I walked on until I emerged from the woods and saw a friend out in her garden.  I sat down on her stonewall and found my chant spilling out into formed words.  “I don’t know what’s next,” I told her, explaining how straight out of college I’d started teaching in Boston.  How just months after Tucker’s birth I’d started after-school creative writing workshops, and how upon moving to New Hampshire, I’d thrown myself into the process of writing, publishing and promoting a book.  And now, I had no idea what was next.

Picking up a few of the hydrangea she’d just cut, my friend paused.  “I guess I’m using this time in my life to refill my well,” she said.  Her words seemed to float in the air, enveloping me in their simplicity.

“You’re allowed to do that?” I asked, both of us laughing and sighing simultaneously.

The rest of my walk home brought a new theme song; the What’s Next song, replaced by the Refilling My Well song.  And that new music washed over me like a joyous symphony.

I’m just discovering what refilling my well looks like, but I’m pretty sure that in between making breakfasts, packing lunches, washing soccer uniforms, gluing letters on poster board projects and driving back and forth to school and soccer games, it involves lots more long walks, yoga classes, hand-written letters to old friends, wandering through garden and vintage shops, meditating on my yoga mat, diving into the stack of books piled on my bedside table and filling the pages of my black and white composition notebooks with new thoughts, stories and observations.  What I also see in that “Refilling My Well Picture” is a more present, centered me, ready to meet and welcome my children back into our home, the place that waits for them as they move further and further out into the world.

This blog has been a place I’ve so loved meeting you every week for the past couple of years, but I feel it’s now time to close my computer for a while and allow those fresh story and writing ideas to emerge as I begin this well-filling process.  I will so miss our connection, but as heavy as my heart feels, I know for now, that this is the right decision.

I’d love to stay in touch and hope we do through my Facebook pages – Kasey Mathews & Preeemie: Love, Life and Motherhood, and there’s also Twitter or you can email me at prematurejourney@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey and allowing me to share in yours.  I am deeply grateful.

With blessings and much love,

Kasey

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Birthday

Lee took this photo last week on the morning of my 46th birthday.

We were in Lake Placid, NY, vacationing with my entire clan.

A big, celebratory dinner was planned, but as I do every year, I longed for some quiet, reflective, soul-nourishing time.

Lee set his watch alarm early – 6:30 am – and after waking our big dog, Meg, filling thermos with creamy coffee and wrapping egg sandwiches (mine gluten-free) in aluminum foil, we snuck out of the house before anyone woke, driving to the marina where we’d rented a boat slip for the week.

There’s something so magical about feeling like you’re the only ones awake, which is just how we felt, slowly driving the boat out onto that still, silent lake.

Lee drove, I sat in the bow, and Meg had the large back seat all to herself.

We cruised in silence, taking in the rustic cottages, stately adirondack pines and rocky shores lining the island around which we drove.

Without need for consultation, we arrived at a cove on the far end of the lake and Lee cut the motor.

We floated and looked around.

“Is that a bird?” I whispered, pointing to a light brown object close to shore, “or the top of a rock?”

Meg sat up at the sound of my voice.  Lee squinted ahead.

“Bird, I think,” he whispered back.

And a moment later, our eyes caught the pair of loons that had emerged from the shadows.

“Mama and Papa,” Lee whispered.  And as if on cue, one of the loons let out that hauntingly beautiful loon call and the smaller brown bird swam to their side.

We landed the boat on the dock at the nearby trail head which leads up the back of Whiteface Mountain.

Typically a four hour hike, we walked just a half hour or so, our usually slow, lopey Meg, full of vigor and joy, leading the way along the moss lined paths.

Lee took the above photo when we arrived back at the dock, after I’d asked for a few minutes more to just sit and be.

Just sit and be.

It was a wonderful beginning to a new year.

What are some of your favorite things to do on your birthday?

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