In 2000, Kasey Mathews had a daughter. Her world turned upside down. Because, if you couldn’t tell by the title, her daughter was premature.
Mathews gently welcomes you to her tale contained within this book’s pages by mentioning that she once longed for someone to sit on the edge of her bed, and share their story. But that woman never came.
I’ll spill the beans early. My biggest criticism of this book is that Mathews waited 11 years to share. I could have used her candid sisterhood two years ago.
We all have a different story. Boys, girls, twins, first children, second siblings, east vs. west. Surprise preemies, months of bedrest. Three months to span when our little ones eagerly attempt life. And no two medical charts are the same.
But there are two things that every member of this unwelcome club seem to have in common:
- The process of entering the NICU.
- The feeling of being lost and lonely, terribly wrought with guilt and fear.
Mathews puts it out there from the very beginning. This was not the expected image of motherhood. Whether you are intimately familiar with the emotional upheaval involved in preemie parenting, or simply reading this book because your favorite blogger (me, of course) is assuring you that it is totally awesome, you will feel the heart wrenching pain of feeling like a fake mother – an imposter. Quickly followed by the guilt of believing that a good mother would have been able to protect the struggling child.
With each passing page I was consumed with an increasing desire to rush upstairs and wake up the muppets – just to hold them. Because I am a *real* mother. And my sons are *real* boys – no matter how much I thought that time would never come. Mathews’ words weave a sense of contentment. I was not alone.
She points out the obvious. There will come a time when you suddenly realize, medicine is called a “practice” for a reason. In the relatively new field of neonatology, these professionals aren’t doctors; they’re medical mathematicians. DAMN YOU STATISTICS! (And I’ve been saying this since I took that class in college.)
“There is no pain like that of your children over which you have no control.”
– Garrison Keillor, Preemie page 76.
This book is brave. To talk about the fear – that’s assumed. But this book also embraces the disillusionment – do I even want children, can’t I simply start over, and the intense guilt such thoughts come wrapped in. You can sense the fog as Mathews spends time focused on simply functioning – merely a marionette, dancing in an out-of-body dream sequence. It is not only her tiny daughter fighting for survival.
Mathews fought for years after her daughter was home and “safe.” Post traumatic stress disorder is apparently common for preemie parents. I know I have it. And like Mathews, the anniversary of my tiny ones has sparked a recurring episode and pain of the trauma. Two years in for me. Twelve for her.
Prematurity certainly takes a family down the road less traveled by. But every preemie and parent find their angels in unknown places, despite the panic always living just beneath the surface.
Check out the book. Every story is different. Hers is available today. This is a must read for anyone who’s ever had life throw them a curve ball – not just preemie specific.
And don’t forget to breathe.