Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder

Interview with my Friend, Author, Kasey Mathews

Click here to buy Kasey’s book via Amazon!

It is impossible for me to close my blogoversary month without celebrating my dear old friend’s Kasey Mathews‘ brand new book Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life & Motherhood, which is being put out on the shelves today at a bookstore near you! I’ve known Kasey since 6th grade. We were in House 3 together. We even went to Senior Ball together with our most excellent dates. (Hi Lenny & JMo!)

Anyway, Kasey’s book has been born! The premise? I’m lifting it from the back cover of her 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 and delivered her one-pound, eleven ounce daughter, Andie.

One pound and eleven ounces, people!

A can of Progresso soup weighs one pound and three ounces.

Here is my interview with Kasey. Subscribe to her blog, follow her @kaseymathews or via Facebook.

• • •

rasj: Kase, you are brutally honest in your memoir, especially about how you did not want to touch Andie when she was so tiny. You call her a “half-done baby” and admit that – initially — you didn’t even want to see her. I imagine in anticipation of this book coming out, you discussed these feelings with her. How did you explain things so that she could understand?

Kasey: When I began writing this book, I had to put aside my worries of “what will people think,” and that meant Andie, too. I just never could have opened up as much as I did, and I think the story would have suffered.  Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry once it was all written down. But I decided it worth the risk of judgment to give voice to the thoughts and feelings I believe so many mothers have (not just preemie moms) but are too afraid and ashamed to say out loud.

As far as Andie is concerned, she’s such an old soul and just seems to “get” things on a different level. I haven’t read her the book yet (although I’ve recently decided to) but conversations around her birth and my reaction have been ongoing.  I remember a time when we were curled up in bed together looking at the photo album of her first year. I had pointed to a photo of her just after her birth and told her how afraid I was of her.  She had replied in a teasing voice,  “Well, that’s really nice, Mom. What kind of parent would think that?” To which I replied, “Well, me, I guess,” and we had both laughed. But when we got serious, and I explained to her that my fear of losing her was so great and so overwhelming, and that I ultimately had to learn to choose love over fear, the look in her eyes told me that she understood.

rasj:  You mention that a dog attacked you when you were 5-years old, resulting in 49 stitches and scars. You said that your father offered you plastic surgery to “fix” the scars, but you refused. Looking back now, what do your scars mean to you? And do you think you gained something from that terrible accident that actually helped you on your journey with Andie? 

Kasey: Some of us have scars on the outside, but we all have them on the inside. I believe our scars tell our stories. They make us who we are. Andie’s birth was such a traumatic event, and I think I referred back to my dog bite as a frame of reference, because it was the only other traumatic episode I’d ever known.  What I gained was the perspective of looking through my parent’s eyes and for the first time truly understanding how they felt not knowing what was going to happen to their child.  Although the circumstances were different, that perspective gave me the strength to know that they’d walked the path before me, and that I could do it as well.

rasj: During the darkest times, you found strength in homeopathic medicines. Can you explain how non-Western therapies (like energy work, Reiki and yoga) have helped you and your family?

Kasey: Until Andie’s birth, I hadn’t known about Holistic medicine and discovered that it was truly an “alternative” way of looking at a medical situation. It differs from traditional western medicine in that it approaches the body as a whole interrelated system, such as the lungs, gut and skin are all tied together within the human body.  These alternative therapies made so much sense to me, but I want to stress that we used them in conjunction with traditional medicine, and I truly believe that pursuing these parallel paths account for Andie’s tremendous success.

rasj. Did you ever contact the pediatrician who predicted Andie would always be small and that she would have learning disabilities? If you could talk to him now, what would you want to say to him? 

Kasey: For years I wanted to, but felt it wasn’t worth the stress it would cause me. Recently, however, after Andie’s 11-year-old check up where her growth was nearly off the charts, I used the device of writing a letter to release those pent-up feelings. The letter was never sent but the writing of it allowed me to tell him just how wrong he was about everything. And in that same letter, I also thanked him; because what I came to understand was that as difficult as he was to deal with, his doubt was ultimately a gift. He fueled our belief and conviction that Andie would prove him so wrong and show him, and so many others, that she would not be what they wanted her to be, but what she wanted to be.

rasj: I adore the way you show Tucker and Andie interacting with each other, how he becomes an unofficial part of her physical therapy. But it isn’t always perfect, right? They fight, too, right?

Kasey: Fight? Andie and Tucker?  No! Never! *laughs * Their bickering was so awful one day that I screamed at them to stop fighting and threw the apple I had in my hand straight across the kitchen. Fortunately, it missed both their heads, but… not the window! How’s that for perfect?

rasj: That’s awesome! Obviously, you have a great arm! Now tell us something wonderful that has happened to Andie since you finished writing the book.

Kasey: I think Andie would tell you the most wonderful event in her life as of late, was getting contact lenses.  She’d worn glasses since she was two and started asking about contacts when she was nine.  Her eye doctor (Dr. V. from the book) confirmed that she was a candidate for contacts, but needed to be at an age when she was responsible enough to care for them.  The contacts were her eleventh birthday gift.

rasj: Looking back, is there information you wish you had that you would want to share with parents of preemies?

Kasey: There are three vital pieces of information I want to share with parents of preemies. First, while in the NICU, cover your baby’s isolet with a dark, heavy blanket to keep him/her in as womb-like an environment as long as possible. Secondly, allow yourself to see a vision of your child in the future and hold on to that vision. And lastly — and this is for anyone who’s experienced any sort of event trauma  – remember you are not alone.  Know that most likely whatever you’re thinking and feeling, someone else already has thought those same thoughts and felt those same feelings and walked that same path.

There is Kasey now! Isn’t she cute?

• • •

Because Kasey is awesome-sauce, she is offering a copy of her book to one lucky winner.

For a chance to win:

Leave a comment about something regarding child-rearing that has been challenging for you.

Tweet us @rasjacobson & @kaseymathews

• • •

Other blogoversary giveaways you can enter to win:

The Write-Brain Book

Elena Aitken’s ebook Sugar Crash

A handwritten card from me

Tyler Tarver’s ebook Letters To Famous People

A hard copy of Tingo & Other Extraordinary Words

All blogoversary winners will be announced on June 2nd — at which point I will collapse in exhaustion.

68 thoughts on “Interview with my Friend, Author, Kasey Mathews

  1. I can’t wait to get your book, Kasey! I’m sure we have an awful lot in common and it really is very cathartic to be able to relate to someone who has had a similar experience. I wish you well with all you do but most of all I wish Andie the moon and the stars!

    1. Gina, thank you for all your love and support. I can’t wait to hear what you think about our story and how it relates to yours. I know that writing the story was healing, so I hope the same holds true for you when reading it! Please let me know!! Lots of love to you!! XO Kasey

  2. Renee…great interview! So proud to see you and Kasey out in the world with your writing! I am already thinking who I should buy this book for. Seems like a story worth reading…no matter what our parenting experience has been. Love to you both!

    1. Hi Kim!! I’m so happy that this writing world has brought all of us back together after all these years!! I would encourage you to think about the book for yourself, too! Yes, it’s the story of my girl’s premature birth, but it’s also about me “waking up” and becoming fully present in my life. Remember me, the spacey girl wandering the halls of our high school? I kind of carried on that way until Andie’s birth rocked my world and forced me to step up and really examine what’s important in life! If you do read it, please let me know what you think!! Big hugs to you!! XO Kasey

      1. Kase: You should check out EA’s guest post from last Friday. Holy faboo. She got a skillion hits. Go check. It’s about Pocahontas. Warning: You will sing “Colors of the WInd” all day. But you’ll do that now anyway. So…

          1. oh! and I want to win her book! (PLEASE pick me). The challenge I’ve facing right now with my kids is staying consistent with them, yet also dealing with each individual need. That’s been hard.

  3. What a lovely nterview. I used to work as a nurse in an NICU and I saw what parents went through whether they were the successes, or the losses. In the end, it was too hard on me. The tiniest baby I ever cared forthat survived was 1 pound, 9 ounces, and that was 30 years ago. Amazing!

    Being the mother of seven children, one of the biggest challenges that I faced was learning to let go and trust that they would be cared for even if I didn’t have my eye on the constantly. This meant that I needed to learn to trust God enough to know that He was the one in control, not me. Six of my kids are adults, and out of my sight most of the time, but I have faith the God has got everything under control, otherwise, I’d worry all of the time. Just because they are grown and gone does not mean concern evaporates. My seven year old is nder my watchful eye, but he is in God’s care, too. I am just the overseer at this point. Riasing children takes a ot of all kinds of faith.

    1. If that isn’t a wonderful reminder to breathe and trust and know that we are all held and loved. Thank you. Did you just feel the big breath I exhaled? Andie was 1 pound 11 ounces eleven years ago. 1 pound 9 ounces 30 years ago? That is astounding! Thanks for your wonderful comment! XO Kasey

  4. Wow! This interview reminded me of several conversations I had with my pediatrician. He said that my son would barely be my height (5’4″) and he is almost 5′ 8″!
    It sounds like a wonderful book of survival and thriving!

    1. Isn’t it amazing the things doctors will say, Susie? I’m so glad you and your son chose to believe he’d be what ever he was meant to be! Hooray for you both!

  5. What an inspiring interview. I can tell her book must be open and honest because even her interview is. I felt like we were all sitting at the same table having coffee. I think the most wonderful thing I appreciated out of this post is that she’s having conversations with Andie about her experience now. I wish more parents did that. Trusted their children enough to talk to them. It takes great guts to do it, but they appreciate it so much.

    Followed Kasey on twitter! Thanks for introducing her to us, Renee!

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Jess. I really tried to be open and honest in writing the book because that is what I so longed for. The conversations with Andie continue to amaze me. Children, it seems, are so much more capable than we give them credit for! Thanks for the Twitter follow!! XO

  6. Such a touching interview. My heart beat accelerated at Andie’s weight… I’m so glad she’s turned out so healthy and well, no doubt thanks to her loving family.

    Thanks for sharing Kasey with us, Renee! I wish her all the best.

    1. Thank you, August. Yes, 1 pound 11 ounces. When I see full-term newborns today, I comment on how tiny they are, unable to comprehend Andie was ever that small. It does wild things to my heart beat as well! XO

  7. I am Mom to 3 preemies- ex-27week trached twins and an ex-33week preemie. My twins are 6 years old and it is still hard for people who know me to understand the need for caution and extra care to be taking when it comes to parenting preemies who are still immune & breathing compromised. They see us playing on OUR swingset and don’t understand the CONSTANT need for monitoring and avoidance of germs that is essential to keeping my twins healthy. Not every preemie has my twins’ challenges, but it would be a whole lot easier if there was more understanding out there of the RANGE of challenges our kids face and/or have faced. Thanks for getting the message out about your experiences. Hope I WIN!!! 🙂

    1. Your welcome. I am so happy to speak to the need to protect our children and know that it is so basic and so deep. I remember how astounded I was at how people (including family and closest friends) just didn’t get it. The whole You’re just being paranoid sort of attitude, and the You’re just an overprotective mama bear. Listen, you and I both know that you are doing exactly the right thing by putting your children’s health first. My husband and I always reminded each other that we were the only ones who would be up at 2am timing breaths per minute. You’re a wonderful mom! And don’t forget to give yourself some time off and a little self-care! XO Kasey

    2. So happy to get the message out because I think it is sooo important for our friends and family to understand just how vulnerable our kiddos are and how lonely and isolating this whole experience can be. You’re are clearly a wonderful mom and doing everything that you know is right for you and your little ones! Keep up the amazing work raising those twins! XO

  8. Wow, Kasey. What a story. I went into preterm labour pregnant with twins at 27 weeks. Medications (and luck/grace) stopped it. I ultimately carried them to term, but I’ve always been aware that they were almost preemies. There were times while I was being an incubator that I felt quite alone. I couldn’t read stories on the internet at that time because they scared me too much. So I just read. Everything. But nothing on childrearing. Now that my twins are 8 (today!) I could’ve maybe benefitted from reading some books on childrearing, but I’m glad to know there are other moms who can chuck a fruit…

    1. Our stories are different, Leanne but the thread of motherhood and those feelings of vulnerability and loneliness bond us in sisterhood. I’m sure you read exactly what you were supposed to be reading to get you through those early years! Hi to your kiddos – I taught 2nd grade – 8 year olds are my people!! XO

  9. I cannot wait to read this book! I also had so much fear when I saw my daughter for the fist time. Although she was a whooping 2 lbs 4 oz. I didn’t was to hold her and called her my half baked baby. It is nice to know I am not alone.

    1. Jen, when did 2 lbs 4 ounces become whopping? I can’t wait for you to read the book because spreading the message “You are not alone,” is exactly why I wrote it! I feel so happy that was your reaction to the interview. Much love to you and your daughter. XO

    2. Jen, when did 2 lbs 4 ounces become whopping???? You are definitely not alone girl! Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book! Please stay in touch! XO

  10. My (full-term) second son spent a week in the NICU when he was born, and I was the only non-preemie mom there. They taught me more in that week than I’d learned in the three years I had already been a mother.

    Thank you, Kasey, for sharing your experience so others can learn!

    1. You are so welcome, Lisha. I am so thrilled to hear that your NICU stay, no matter how brief, was an amazing learning experience. As you know, it’s a scary, magical, terrifyingly amazing place! Much love to you!

    2. Lisha, no matter how long or short a NICU stay, it seems the experience leaves us forever changed. Thanks for the comment! Lots of love to you!

  11. I love this interview. When I become famous, will you interview me too?

    I would love to win a copy of her book.

    My biggest challenge is keeping my very active five-year-old son under control and ultimately not becoming a sociopath (because sometimes I wonder).

  12. I have been reading Kasey’s blog and talking to her on a preemie support group on Facebook for a while now and I love her honesty about all of her experiences and I’ve enjoyed the ride with her waiting for Preemie to be official.
    I had 3 girls. My first was stillborn due to a rare chromosome abnormality, my second was born at term at 38 weeks and my last, my preemie, was born at 31 weeks due to pre-eclampsia, HELLP Syndrome and severe IUGR. It was very difficult to have a then 3 yr old at home while I had my preemie in the hospital. It was flu season, and there was H1N1 going around as well, so visitors had to be 14 yrs old or older. My daughters didn’t get to meet for almost a month and a half. I realize others have gone through worse, but to have my girls in 2 different places and not be able to have them together was so challenging. I feel like my daughter at home had to suffer a lot because a lot of my thoughts were on my preemie in the hospital even when I wasn’t at the hospital. She is 6 now and about to graduate kindergarten on Thursday, and my preemie is 2.5. She’s petite but she sure is a ball of energy, and talks at a 3-4 yr old age level. My 2 girls are best friends. Things are more amazing than I ever could have imagined.
    I can’t wait to read Kasey’s book! This was a great interview with great questions!

    1. Hi Jessica! My heart is singing with joy to see you over here! You’ll love, Renee! Hearing your story again stirs so much up in me. So happy your girls have each other and such an amazing friendship. The gifts are there all along, but become so much clearer as time passes, don’t you think? Love to you and the girls! XO

      1. Things have definitely gotten clearer as time has passed. It has been an amazing journey already and my preemie is only 2.5, I can’t wait to see what the future brings for all of us!

  13. No matter what happens, I am buying this book (like right now) so if I win, I will give it to one of my followers. Gosh. I am blown away (sniffle) by this interview. Great job, both of you. And good on you for your honesty, Kasey. The only way through the sort of pain and fear you felt was right on through it, eh? Ok, running over to Amazon.

    1. How much do I love you, El?!! So happy Renee found such an amazing writing partner to share the journey! Big love to you!!

  14. I can’t wait to read your book…. I’m A mother of 4 children and all 4 were preemies, my smallest baby weighing only 2 lb 3 oz. I have a short cervix and that’s why I had a hard time carrying my babies. With prayer and god’s love, all my babies made it and are doing well in spite of all the negative things the doctors said could happen with them. I’m so blessed to have my children and it was a rough road with all them pregnant and after in the NICU which is a scary place. No matter how many times I had to be in there with all 4, it never got easier. I could probably write a book also with everything I went through too! Well, I can’t wait to read your book and look forward to it!

    1. 4 preemies, Hollie? I can’t wait to hear more about YOUR experience. You need to start writing it all down! When you read my book you’ll hear much about my similar experiences of doctors telling me all the things my daughter would or would not amount to be and how she, too proved them all wrong! Hooray!! What are their ages now?

  15. Not sure if you remember me from HS, we traveled in different circles. I love this entry and can’t wait to read! Raising children is never easy and feel fortunate not to have had the added challenges you have. I see other moms like you who treat every day as a blessing (thrown apples and all), which it is. My youngest is 10 and has ADHD which brings it’s own daily trials and tribulations (esp in school). My biggest challenge now is learning to “let go”. My oldest is 19 and just decided to move to Israel and join the army. It is the right decision for him and he has a life plan which is more than most 19 yr olds. My second oldest turned 17 this past weekend and just passed her driver’s test. I don’t think I am going to sleep well for several years to come. Along with motherhood comes the license to worry for whatever reason we feel the need to. Good Luck!

  16. Andra, so great to connect after all these years! Renee has been wonderful in bringing back into the old J-D loop! I love it! It is all about “letting go” isn’t it? Sounds like you’re already doing so much of that with your older boys. Wow. I really admire your strength and I hope you will be able to sleep at night. Congrats on raising your kids – you sound like a wonderful mom! XO

  17. Renee, great interview. Kasey what an amazing story. I truly think we are given what we can handle and then some. We all face challenges in our lives; however, it’s how we handle them which makes us stronger. You are one strong lady!

    1. Hi Susie!! So great to hear from you!! Yes, I echo Renee’s sentiments, you are an inspiration and one strong lady yourself! I so want to catch up!! Phone? Email? I’m hoping to be at a conference in CHicago in Sept – I’ll keep you posted about that!! Lots of love to you and the kids!! XO

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