10 Lessons on Having a Preemie

photo credit: barycenter.com

10 Lessons on Having a Preemie

1.) You didn’t do anything wrong.  After having a preemie, 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 o.k. 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. And believe it or not, to show your vulnerability is actually 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.

Ready for more? Join me and other moms in Igniting Your Magical Life; Becoming a Happier Mom Workshops

© Kasey Mathews, 2012

 

Letting Go

Last week I felt an unexpected surge of courage and decided to email Arianna Huffington directly and pitch her a story idea. Not only was I surprised that she replied two hours later, but was also surprised to learn that she’d left her position at the Huffington Post to start a new company called Thrive Global. I love the new company’s mission which you can read about here. My surprise went one step further when she wrote that she loved the story and my voice and not only wanted to publish my story but asked me to be a regular Thrive contributor! How’s that for Magic? Lesson for the week – put yourself out there and see what happens!

photo credit: RE Magazine

The Gift of Impermanence

Everyday on the way to the kid’s school we used to pass a big, red barn. Boy, did I love the sight of that barn. Every morning as we drove up the hill, with the blue sky and fluffy clouds in the background, I’d think, “Man I have got to get a photo of that barn.” But we were always running late, or my phone was too full, and I just never did. And then one day, on the way to school, a swarm of workers surrounded the barn, and by the next morning, the barn was gone. Gone.

Next year my son will be gone — gone off to college. And two years after that, my daughter will follow suit. The other day my son and our dog, Ed were curled up on the couch — it was a magical moment — “Please let me take picture,” I asked, and surprisingly he said OK. But once again the screen on my phone was black with the message Cannot Take Photo…

So for the past week I’ve made a concerted effort to “de-clutter” all the photos on my phone and computer. My phone is so full, it can’t take new photos or even receive voicemail. And my computer, well let’s just say that if my computer wore pants, it would be up several sizes. Both my phone and my computer are backed up; so all I really need to do is delete the 5,147 photos on my phone and the 31,498 photos on my computer. But I worry…

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My “What’s Next” has Arrived!

 

A few years back I wrote a post about the time of transition our family was experiencing. The kids had moved to a new school and were gone for longer parts of the day, and I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing with my days. A dear friend advised me to take some time for myself and not worry about the What’s Next. “It will come when you’re ready,” she had said. And she was right. For the past several years I have “refilled” my well, taking really good care of myself and spending my days doing things I love to do. And then, last year, around February, an idea popped into my head. And that idea soon became a seed, and that seed began to germinate and eventually spout.

And today, I’m so happy to announce that that little seed is now a full blossom, ready to greet the world.

My idea was about Magic. That there is so much Magic in our lives if we’re only able to see it.

So I hope you’ll join me on this journey and discover the wondrous possibility of Magic in your life.

Here’s an excerpt of that original blog post that led to this moment. What I love so much is how my friend’s advice was so perfect. That sometimes we want to rush the process of what we’re supposed to be doing, but in trusting that everything happens in perfect timing, we

Walking through the woods 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.

 

 

Magical Trash?

photo credit @scientificmom.com

Here in New Hampshire we take our trash to the dump. Most of the dumps have a “give and take” table, or as my friend calls it “the still good pile.”

I special order things from the dump.

Not trash, but other goodies that people no longer want or need. I don’t place my order with the folks who manage the dump. Instead, I place my order with the Universe. Sometimes I consciously put it out there and hope what I need will appear, or at other times, without really thinking about it, I wish for something, and then I’m surprised and delighted when it appears.

When a friend told me that she hadn’t read Many Lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss, I told her that I’d buy her a copy. Unfortunately, for my friends at my local bookstore, there it was on the give and take table two days later.

“This popcorn is too oily,” I said to my husband, Lee. “I wish we had an air popper.”  There it was at the dump on Saturday, still in the original box.  Same with the French coffee press, still in its box.  We’d had one, but I’d given it away and then wished I hadn’t (I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t mine!). My son’s class was going on a camping trip and the only thing missing from the list was a teapot.  I wasn’t giving up the new white kettle on my stove, and nobody else offered up theirs either. Then on Thursday I went to the dump and there in the center of the give and take table was a shiny metal teapot. I took it home, cleaned it up and sent it on the trip.  Never saw it again, which is why I didn’t loan mine in the first place!

The rug I found was one of my best. I had just finished telling my mother-in-law that I wished I could find a new rug for our sitting room – something blue. “Blues are hard to find,” she’d said. She knew because she’d been looking for a rug for over a year. But that same day, my husband and I went to the dump and there was a rug folded up under the give and take table. I grabbed Lee’s shirt, but he tried to pull away. “No way,” he said, curling his lip. “Not a used rug.” Even Lois, the dump’s recycling vigilantly, took his side. “You never know with a rug,” she said.  I could see that it was a hooked rug, blues, and well, I’d had luck before.  So I begged Lee to help me carry it to the car, promising to return it immediately if it was no good.

My mother in law helped me carry it in, and she unfolded it before I had a chance. “I know this rug and it sells for 700 bucks. It’s practically brand new!”  As she vacuumed the “new” rug, she grumbled about how she’d been looking for a rug for over a year. I offered to give her that one, but she said the colors weren’t right.  She did ask, however, if I’d order one for her. “Something with reds and tans.”  I told her I’d try.

But I also told her to give it a try herself. And you should, too! This sort of Magic is available to us all! You just have to believe it, and have a really good give and take pile! Or if you don’t have a dump where you can practice your magic, how about a garage sale or your local discount or antique store? Is there anything you’ve been looking for? A small table for your front hallway? A working lamp for your bedside table? Look around for what you need and then go ahead and ask for it. You may be surprised by what shows up!

Have you already experienced this sort of magic and had something you wished for unexpectedly appear in your life? Let us know here in the comments or over in The Usual Magic Facebook Group!

What is The Usual Magic?

 

 

I truly believe Magic is all around us, available to us, all the time. We, however, have to be willing to see it. Our job is to open our eyes and allow Magic to be seen and recognized. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever seen or experienced magic in your life before, I bet you have without even realizing it.

Ever thought of an old friend and a day or two later the phone rang and it was her? Ever walked into a store only to see the exact size chair/table/stool/sofa/fill in the blank, you’d been searching for and there it was AND it was on clearance? Ever rush off to the grocery store feeling out of sorts and have the cashier tell you how your jacket really brings out the color in your eyes? That’s the Magic!

And once you discover it’s there, it’s time to start playing, inviting and welcoming Magic into your life.

If you haven’t yet downloaded my Free Guide on Creating a Magical Life, that’s a perfect place to start!

Have fun and keep me posted on what you discover!

Preemie: Chapter 1 – Hospital

Chapter One – Hospital

The car stopped in front of the hospital’s main entrance. I stared out the window. The revolving door stood motionless, waiting for a push. When I looked at Lee, his mouth was smiling, but his eyes were not. I leaned into him, and he rested his lips on my forehead. Tucker’s tiny hiking boots swung back and forth, banging against the back of my seat. A uniformed man tapped his pen against the glass and motioned for us to move. As I pushed the car door open, I could barely move my arms. The man held my elbow, and I turned back to gaze at the car. “Wave to Mommy,” Lee said. I watched the station wagon move off in search of a parking space.

The admissions procedure was unusually prompt. I sat in the empty waiting room, knowing that tomorrow all these seats would be bursting with ripe-bellied women waiting for their scheduled Monday morning appointments. My hand stroked my recently-popped middle. A startling pain in my lower back reminded me why I was there. With no one at the desk, I wondered how anyone behind the closed double doors would know I was waiting.

My gaze fell on the coffee table in front of me. A beautiful, bright-eyed baby smiled at me from the glossy cover of a parenting magazine. I imagined her name—something with Rose in the middle, maybe Hannah Rose or Ashley Rose, or perhaps Mackenzie Rose. We stared at each other. She seemed to want to say something. Her pouty lips and arched eyebrows appeared concerned. Still rubbing my belly, I whispered down to her, “Is my baby okay?”

Her brilliant blue eyes continued to stare silently at me, and I suddenly knew my baby was not okay. I let out a quiet sound, somewhere between a gasp and a sob, and then a nurse called my name.

A young Asian doctor held her clipboard close and dutifully recorded my answers about previous pregnancies.

“One,” I answered. “Born on his due date at eight pounds.”

She leaned against the counter and scribbled. Her shiny hair fell like a black cape over her shoulders.

I explained the few instances of bleeding I’d had earlier in the pregnancy. She nodded but didn’t write these down.

“Where is your pain on a scale of 1-10?” she asked.

“Three.”

“Good.” Her pen made a scratching noise across the paper. I had a sudden desire to knock the clipboard out of her hands. “Well your pain doesn’t seem that bad,” she said, dropping the clipboard on the counter and pushing up her sleeves. “I’ll just do an exam before you go.”

She’d just begun the exam when Lee walked in with two-year-old Tucker in his arms. My hospital gown was pulled up to my stomach and the doctor’s head was between my legs. I smiled at them. Lee leaned back against the wall and offered me a wink. I was about to introduce him to the doctor, when she let out a gasp. “Oh my God,” she said, “you’re three centimeters dilated.”

I’m not sure who called them, but a bunch of nurses were suddenly in the room, scrambling around me. “What does this mean?” I asked. The nurse next to me was tearing apart the Velcro of a blood pressure cuff. “It means you’re not going home until this baby is born.”

“But it’s November,” I told her. “My baby isn’t due until March.” It was like I had a lead weight on my chest. I couldn’t get a full breath. “I can’t stay here until March.” The nurse’s hair was in tight curls that looked like rollers. “We’ve just got to stop this labor,” she said patting my shoulder.

They lifted me from the exam table onto a gurney. Two nurses raised my legs into the air and held them there. I saw a large needle coming towards my back end and felt a sting and something cool spreading under my skin.

The nurse put the needle in a red container marked “Contaminated”. Lee shifted Tucker to his other arm. “A steroid,” she said. “To help develop the baby’s lungs.”

The hot prick of an IV went into my right arm. Tucker started screaming. But when I reached for him, the nurse set my arm back on the bed. Her hand was cold. “Dad’s got him,” she said. Lee squeezed Tucker closer. “It’s gonna be alright, babe,” he said, backing out of the room, keeping his eyes on mine. “It’s gonna be alright.”

Still holding my legs in the air, several nurses took hold of the metal bars and wheeled me out the door, past Lee and Tucker, down the tight hallway. I heard Tucker’s shrill voice, “What’s happening, Daddy? What’s happening to Mommy?”

When I tried to sit up, the nurse on my right pushed me down and kept her hand firmly on my chest.

“I can’t stay here.” I lifted my head. “I can’t stay here until March.” I pictured myself lying in a hospital bed for the next four months, stacks of discarded magazines at my side, a wall-mounted television airing nothing but soaps, and Tucker at home, dressed in his Spiderman pajamas, carrying his snuggly blue blanket from room to room, looking for his Mama.

The bed was moving fast. “Who will take care of Tucker?” My question echoed off of the hallway walls.

“He’ll be okay,” a nurse answered.

The hallway grew dark like a cave. Dim overhead lights cast strange shadows across the nurses’ faces.

“Why is this happening?” I asked. “What did I do?” My voice sounded far away.

“You didn’t do anything.” The nurse on my right held my hand without looking at me. “This isn’t your fault.” Their shoes squeaked as they jogged alongside me.

“I know I did something.” The nurses exchanged a look. My body started shaking. I was so cold. “I never should have played paddle tennis.”

“It’s nothing you did,” several nurses said at once.

If I could figure out why this was happening, I could make it stop. I searched for clues, chronicling the past week’s activities and ingestions. The bath I took Saturday must have been too hot. I ate sushi. Just vegetables, but maybe it was the ginger. “I put ginger on some sushi.” They gripped my ankles tighter. I could see their hands on my legs, but realized I couldn’t feel them.

Finally, I clutched a nurse’s arm. She was walking backwards, facing me, guiding the gurney down the hall. I dug my fingers into her flesh. I needed to know she was real. She looked at me. Her eyes, framed in dark circles, softened. I thought I’d found my sympathetic audience. “You don’t understand,” I said to her in a more coherent, controlled voice. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me.”

She held my gaze for a moment, and I waited. A gold cross swung at the base of her neck.

She continued to look at me. And then she said, “It does now.”

To read more – here is another Free Chapter Download Chapter 6, from a bit later in the book. Or if you want to read the entire book, you can Order Here.

It’s truly an honor to have this book out in the world and hear back from so many amazing people that have been touched by this story. If you’re one of them, please let me know at prematurejourney@gmail.com

Much love to you all,

Kasey

Some of the lovely things readers have said about Preemie…

“My favorite book of 2014”

“This book…was like a preemie Bible for me.”

“It was my induction into motherhood.”

“This book saved my life.”

PreemieBookBack3D

This is the back cover of the book. I adore this photo, taken by my dear friend Shandy on a visit to Maine. I look like any new, young mom, but secretly on the inside I was falling apart.

In Honor of National Parent’s of Preemies Day…

LittleFeetFeature

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.

© 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.