Happy Holidays

As with every passing year, 2012 flew by too quickly and proved to be another year full of change and growth. As Tucker and Andie’s worlds expand and broaden, we’re recognizing now more than ever the importance of slowing down and savoring our precious time together.

Our hope for 2013 is that in the midst of ski races, soccer games and schoolwork, we find quiet moments for leisurely meals, walks in the woods and occasional family movie nights.  It’s become increasingly clear, that those are the moments we’ll look back on and treasure most.

Whatever your wishes and intentions may be for the coming year, I hope that you find 2013 memorable, rewarding and full of moments of serenity and joy.

Happy Holidays!

I can’t wait to spend more time with you in the New Year! XO

The Gift of Receiving

Screen-Shot-2013-01-13-at-4.14.31-PM

It is truly an honor to be a regular contributor to Hand to Hold’s official website, Preemiebabies101.com.

To read my latest post, The Gift of Receiving, please click on the link below the short excerpt.

“I used to love the holidays.

The sparkle of white lights, the smell of evergreen, the sound of Bing Crosby Christmas carols.

And then I spent a Christmas in our home, while our baby lay in an incubator in a hospital an hour away…”

Preemiebabies101

May the holiday season bring joy and peace to you and those you love.

Gratitude and Giveaways

December is hard for me.  I love the idea of a beautifully decorated home filled with the smells of gingerbread and fresh cut greens.  But somehow, every year, it remains just an idea, a longing, that ultimately eludes me.

The reality is, I spend most of the year trying desperately to get organized and maintain what little controlled chaos I’m able to manage.  And then along come the holidays and suddenly my entire living room is full of the cardboard boxes stuffed with the ornaments and decorations that I swore I would organize before putting them back in the attic last year.  I’m pretty sure it was around March when I finally gave up on any hope of that happening and hauled the disarray back up the attic stairs.  And now, once again it all litters my living room.

photo-2-e1355793056681-764x1024

I’m already making promises to myself that this year will be different.

I know what you’re thinking, but this year it might actually be true.  Here’s why.  Remember earlier in the fall when I wrote about fear and how when you speak your fear aloud it loses its power and control over you?  Well, I think that holds true for other emotions and attributes as well.  In this case, it was admitting to a friend, a friend I really admire, how deeply disorganized my life is.  “I’m barely hanging on by a thread,” I’d said, detailing missed deadlines, double-scheduled appointments and numerous late charges on misplaced bills.  Saying that out loud, admitting that truth to someone outside our home, was freeing.  Speaking those words released some of the shame I’d been carrying for far too long.  My friend didn’t laugh or dismiss my confession.  Instead, he handed me a book.

photo-8-e1355793460633-764x1024

Have you ever held a book and felt it vibrate in your hand?  That’s what it felt like when I held It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul.   I knew I was holding something that was likely to alter the course of my life.  That sounds awfully dramatic, I know, but it’s true.  What’s different about this book is that it approaches organization from a spiritual point of view, and if you’ve read my book, you know that’s how I roll!  The main theory behind the book is discovering the WHY behind the disorganization, and once I discovered my why, or whys, I made several little changes that proved significant.

I never, ever thought I’d say this, but here goes…I not only bought, but LOVE my label maker.  Seriously, I do. It was about $25 bucks and now there are labels on the shelves in the kid’s closets so they know where all their clothes belong and my kitchen junk drawer no longer looks so junky and now we can all find pencils and pens and I even have a working mail system for the first time in my life!

photo-61-1024x764

Another change occurred when my sister mentioned that she’d gotten rid of most of her plastic food containers and started using glass storage for leftover food. So I decided to make the change, too.  And what a difference!  Now I can see what’s inside my fridge, and I’m no longer throwing away the expensive leftover grass-fed ground beef that was hidden in a large yogurt container on the bottom shelf.

photo-71-e1355793601848-764x1024

I can’t help but think that I’m not alone in this perpetual quest for order and so, here’s what I’m going to do.  Because it’s the season of giving and expressing gratitude, I’d like to express mine to all of you for the tremendous support you’ve shown me as I’ve navigated my way through this wild world of book publication with a GIVEAWAY!

TWO ACTUALLY!

One lucky reader, will receive a copy of, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys.

AND another lucky reader will receive a set of the glass storage dishes that have brought such order to my kitchen!  Don’t they look kind of Holidayish with those red lids?

So here’s what you need to do.

Leave a comment by December 28th  and tell me why you would benefit from either of these gifts, or offer me one of your best organizational tips. Each comment will be assigned a number and chosen by Random.com.  Good Luck!

I’ll let you know come January if I manage to finally get all the Christmas trappings back in their boxes in a somewhat orderly way.  Chance are, if it’s all back in the attic by January, I found success!

Photo Friday

A nice reminder that sometimes you just need to take a day off and chill on the couch, especially this time of year.

teacher2

She kinda looks small in this pic, but weighs 118 lbs!

Thanks, Meg.  You continue to be one of my greatest teachers.

Who are yours?

An Interview, a New Friend and a Giveaway…

Earlier this summer I was contacted by Rachel Turiel, who had just finished reading my book, Preemie. Her baby was born at 25 weeks, just like my Andie. He weighed in just an ounce more, at 1 pound 12 ounces.

Screen-Shot-2012-12-04-at-8.38.31-AM

His name is Col, which as Rachel says, rhymes with soul.

I soon discovered that Rachel keeps a blog called “6512 and Growing – Growing Food and a Family at 6512 Feet.”

I was curious and after just a few minutes on her site, I was entranced.  Immediately I knew that this was a blog I would visit frequently.  Then, to save myself the trouble, I entered my email in the subscribe box in the sidebar, and now every week, Rachel’s latests musings on her own journey in love, life and motherhood (and unlike mine, her illustrious gardens) arrive in my email inbox.

I’ll leave you curious, too, and let you follow this link to read our interview and discover where it is that Rachel writes at 6,512 feet.  Can you guess?

www.6512andgrowing.wordpress.com

Leave a comment on Rachel’s post before December 10th and enter for a chance to win a free copy of Preemie!

Also, if you haven’t yet seen my newly released video “Preemie – A Letter to My Daughter” please check it out!   Response so far has been tremendous, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make the video a reality. If you’re inspired by what you see, please take a moment to share it with your friends and family.  You can either copy and paste this link http://tinyurl.com/Preemie-video in an email or on your Facebook page.  There is also a share button right below the video on Youtube.

Click right on that photo of Tuck and Andie to watch –

Screen-Shot-2012-12-04-at-8.47.51-AM

May your coming week bring much joy and peace.

XO Kasey

A Big Birthday and Video Reveal

Happy, Happy Birthday to my incredible 12 year-old-girl!

If only I’d known 12 years ago what I know today…

Ah, words escape me.

I think I’ll let this just completed, ready for the world to see, YouTube video speak for me instead!

Click here to view – Preemie – A Letter to My Daughter 

Screen-Shot-2012-11-26-at-9.42.52-PM

This video has been in the works since August!  To think that it’s just now ready, right after Thanksgiving and on Andie’s 12th birthday, such exquisite timing!

If you’d like to read the story behind the song in the video, click here—http://www.enidames.com/my-words/

And please, by all means, share with anyone and everyone you know!

Happy Day!

Babies in the Storm

Untitled-4

There were days when Andie was in the NICU that I truly believed things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

And then they would.

Another surgery.

Another scare.

Another “take my breath away, I’ll never breathe again moment.”

And then the surgery, the scare, the moment would ultimately pass.  Andie would somehow have weathered another storm.  But the residue of those traumas would linger right under the surface of my skin, continuing to swirl like grey storm clouds, reminding me not to get too comfortable, for lightening could strike again at any moment.

When the power went out in New York City during Hurricane Sandy and the back up generators at NYU’s Langone Medical Center failed, the parents of those teeny, tiny babies being kept alive by machines, tubes and wires, found out that things can actually go far beyond worse.

This is a video clip of a 20/20 episode where a group of utterly incredible, heroic NICU nurses describe what the experience of keeping those babies breathing, and at the same time, evacuating them in the dark down nine flights of stairs, was like.  http://www.youtube.com

I tried to imagine myself as one of the parents of those evacuated babies.  I imagined I’d never recover from such an ordeal, and wondered how the parents of those critical newborns would survive a scare of that magnitude.

And then I thought of my friend Yamile, and I knew that it was possible not only to recover, but to find inspiration in a traumatic event.

I met Yamile at the National Association of Neonatal Therapist Conference in Texas.  I saw her again at the Preemie Parent Alliance Conference in Chicago.

I was at the airport on my way home, having just made it through the security line, when I saw her friendly face emerged from the other line. It turned out both of us had an extra hour to spare before boarding our flights.

We found a small table at one of the crowded restaurants and sat across from each other.

“We’ve now met at two conferences and I don’t even know your story,” I told her.

And that’s when I learned about Baby Zack, her baby born eleven years ago, around the same pound and a half size as Andie.  Zack was in the NICU when a storm descended upon Houston, Texas, leaving the city without power and her baby’s hospital without power, when the backup generators failed.

“I ran in at seven in the morning,” she told me.  “The NICU nurses were covering the babies in warm blankets.  I cried out to all of them ‘Open your shirts! Get those babies on your chests and keep them warm.’”

And they did.

And from seven in the morning until he was transferred in the afternoon, Yamile kept Zack warm on her chest while her husband manually pumped air into his tiny baby’s tiny lungs.

“I promised him then that if he survived I would do something special to honor him.”

And she did.

While Zachary lived in the NICU, Yamile hardly left his side.  Each night it broke her heart when she had to leave him alone in his isolet.

“It was spring,” she said, “and the stores had racks of gardening gloves displayed.  I looked at those gloves and saw hands.”  So she took a pair home, slept with one around her neck so it would be full of her scent, and placed it on Zack every time she had to leave him behind in the NICU.

Soon after Zack was discharged, the hospital called asking Yamile if she would ever makes her “hands” for the other babies.  And with that, she began to fulfill her promise to her son.

Screen-Shot-2012-11-15-at-10.37.21-AM

You can hear Yamile’s incredible story for yourself on this recent Today Show Interview.

When Yamile pulled a soft pink fleece “hand” out of her bag and handed it to me, I held it to my cheek.  If only I had this way back when I thought.

“Take that home to your daughter,” she said.  “Zaky still sleeps with his when I am away.”

Sitting on the plane, I reflected upon my “chance” meeting with Yamile.  I’d called home right before take-off, only to find a very weepy Andie who didn’t want to go to bed until her  Mommy was home.  The story of my new friend, and the gift I was carrying home for her, served to soothe her tears and coax her into bed.

I wrapped the Zaky around my neck throughout the plane ride home, and just as promised, placed it over Andie’s sleeping shoulders when I arrived that night.

Every night since, she asks me to put her Zaky over her shoulders.  “Do it in a special way,” she tells me, and then snuggles in, safe and held throughout the night.

DSC_0320-1024x680

So now when I try to imagine how the parents of those babies in the storm will recover from such trauma, I think of Yamile and hope her rainbow after the storm will serve as inspiration.

If you want to learn more about the Zaky, the Kangaroo Zak wrap, or how Yamile’s designs are helping reduce apnea and bradycardia in preemies, check out her company’s website www.nurturedbydesign.com

While working on this post, I came across an interesting article about women in Kenya turning to Kangaroo Care as solution to the shortage of incubators. You can read that here  Babies In a Pouch: A Hopping Success in Kenya 

Tomorrow is World Prematurity Day.  May it be a day that not only raises awareness about this global epidemic, but a day that brings peace, healing and hope to all those who have been affected by premature birth.

Photo Friday

Gave a talk to the Inner Wheel Club at The Hidden Inn, in South Kortright, New York last night!  Right down the road from where my husband grew up and one town over from my publisher, Hatherleigh Press.  Would you believe that connection wasn’t made until after I’d signed a contract?  (You can read about all that in an older post https://kaseymathews.com/big-book-news/)

Finally had the pleasure of meeting my wonderful editor from Hatherleigh, Anna Krusinski, in person today. After months and months of back and forth via email, obsessing over every sentence, every word, every comma and period, it was truly a treat to relax and chat over lunch!

IMG_3427

Hitting the road shortly to head home to New Hampshire for tomorrow’s Local Author Day at the Wilton Public Library! Please stop by if you can, 9:30 – 1:00.   http://www.wiltonlibrarynh.org/wilton/

Happy Friday!  XO

WOW – An Interview with Women On Writing

Screen-Shot-2013-01-13-at-5.55.04-PM

Here is my latest interview.

I absolutely LOVED the questions Robyn Chausse from Women On Writing (WOW) asked!

Hope you do, too…

When was the last time you cried all the way through a book—out of compassion, out of   joy, out of awe, or because you were laughing? Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood is that kind of book. It’s an emotional feast everyone will enjoy. 

Kasey Mathews poured her heart and soul into recounting the experience of birthing her second child at just twenty-five weeks. Her horror, her fears, the tribulations of raising Andie, and her own journey of finding inner strength, the willingness to be open to new experience, and the power of hope. Her memoir is on a five-star streak . . . we just knew you’d like to meet her!

WOW: Hi Kasey, welcome to The Muffin. We know you’ve been on a whirlwind tour filled with radio and television interviews; thank you for taking the time to share with us today. 

Having your daughter at just twenty-five weeks was a terrifying experience; in your book you mentioned wishing you had another preemie mom to sit and talk with you. But in Preemie you go beyond the hospital experience and into the whole “life” experience of raising a preemie. The final result is a book that does more than address the preemie issue, but is actually about life—our choices, our strengths, our self-doubts. How did this book develop?

Kasey: I knew right from the outset that Preemie had a much broader message to share with a much wider audience than just preemie parents. Once I began healing from my daughter’s birth (which took years and writing a book!), I began to see that her premature arrival was really just a catalyst for a much larger personal transformation. Essentially, her birth was my awakening. For others, it may be a medical diagnosis or an accident, the death of a loved one, a divorce, a move, a job change, even the birth of a healthy child. But the book is really about that moment in time when we find ourselves no longer standing in the same set of shoes, or looking at the world through the same set of eyes, and how we choose to respond and move forward.

WOW: I really enjoyed seeing the organic unfolding of your strengths and the trusting of your own intuition. It is as if Andie’s arrival opened up a whole new path for you. How has your personal connection to “self” changed through these past twelve years?

Kasey: There were so many amazing “gifts” that accompanied Andie’s birth, but one of the greatest would have to be my realization that we’ve all been put here on earth to learn and grow and broaden as human beings. I’ve come to see that every moment of life, from holding a newborn baby to a trip to the grocery store, is a learning experience. Because I’m always on the look out for these “life-lessons” I guess I’ve become very self-aware and tuned into how I react and respond to everything and everyone around me.

To read the rest of the interview, please click the link below!

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2012/10/interview-with-kasey-mathews-author-of.html

Happy Halloween!  

2005-09_007b-1024x768

 

Photo Friday

In a perfect world, both kids would have been on the cover of the book!

DSC_0220-680x1024