Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

An Interview with a Preemie Sibling

SiblingsIt may seem strange, on a website about premature birth, that I’m writing a blog post about a baby born on his due date, weighing an even eight pounds.  But that’s exactly the case with my son, Tucker.  His sister?  Not so much.  She arrived traumatically and unexpectedly, four months prior to her due date.  Two-year old Tucker was there in the hospital, held in his Daddy’s arms, when we first learned I was three centimeters dilated.  Tucker was also there when I was held down by nurses administering shots and attempting to comfort my screams of distress.  And Tucker was there as those same nurses wheeled me down that long corridor, taking his frantic, sobbing mother away from him.

But Tucker was not there when his baby sister was born. Nor would he be for most of the precarious months that followed.  Instead, he was at home with a range of unfamiliar babysitters or at his first daycare, carrying around a big chubby-cheeked doll he’d named after the new baby sister he’d never met.

As you know, it was an unbelievably rough time.  And things didn’t get much easier once his sister came home; so medically fragile that a common cold could land her back in the hospital.

Tucker's first time holding Andie - 2 months after her birth.

Tucker’s first time holding Andie – 2 months after her birth.

And just as I was constantly on the lookout for developmental delays with his sister, I was always studying and watching Tucker for signs of emotional suffering due to  unexpected upheaval of his sister’s birth.

Well, tomorrow, my boy turns 15.  And as I study my once little guy who is now taller than me, I thought, why not ask him what that time was like?  What does he remember and what sort of long-lasting impact does he feel his sister’s premature birth has had on his life?

I wrote out a list of interview questions and imagined that with my teenage boy I’d have to find quiet moments here and there; over pancakes, on the car ride to soccer, or while walking the dog, to ask him these questions, but in fact, we simply sat down together on a rainy afternoon and I asked and he answered.

So with Tucker’s permission, here’s our interview.

What do you remember most about Andie’s birth?

I don’t really remember much.  I was too young.  I think I remember staying with a lot of different people.  I think if I’d been older I could have remembered more.  And I didn’t really know what was going on.

What one word would you use to describe that time in your life?

Confused.

Do you, or did you ever feel like we favored Andie because of her premature birth?

Yeah.

How?

Well you wrote a whole book about her.

What if  I hadn’t written the book?

No, not really. I don’t know, maybe.  Like if I was ever rough, you would get extremely upset with me, and you wouldn’t have gotten that upset if she’d been normal.

Is there anything you wish Mommy and Daddy had done differently?

Not really.  Besides buy me more stuff.  I’m joking.

 

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What was your relationship like with Andie when you were younger?

Sometimes she’d annoy me.  But sometimes it was good she was there because I’d get bored.

What’s your relationship like now?

It’s not really different now, except that when she was a kid she had to be kept away from germs.  I do remember having to wash my hands all the time, and I couldn’t have friends over to our house.

Did you ever think of Andie as fragile or treat her differently because she was a preemie?

No.

Did you ever see other people treat her differently?

Yes. You.  You were always so protective and stuff.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to preemie parents who have another child or children at home?

Make sure they feel loved.  Make sure you give them a lot of attention.  Like if you go to visit the baby, go out for lunch or something fun with the other kid.  Like the playground or an arcade or whatever they like to do.

Did you feel loved?

Yeah.

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 (Next post, an interview from my 12-year old Preemie’s perspective)

 How about you?  Does your preemie have a sibling(s)? What questions would you ask them?

Kasey Mathews About Kasey Mathews

Kasey Mathews (NH) is a mother of two, her son, Tucker born on his due date at an even 8 pounds, and her daughter, Andie born at 25 weeks, weighing 1 pound 11 ounces. Kasey is a writer and author of the memoir, "Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood," in which she openly and honestly writes about her fears and uncertainties as a preemie mom. Kasey considers herself a student in the lessons of everyday life, and regularly observes and finds unexpected meaning in seemingly ordinary events. Her life-lesson stories and much more can be found on her website, www.kaseymathews.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I love this because my wife gave birth to our 27 weeker while we had a 16 month old who was there. It’s great to hear his answers. I look forward to the next interview and an update on how the other one is doing. Sounds like a couple great kids!

    • Rob, I’m so delighted to hear the interview with Tucker was meaningful to you. I think if all those years ago, when I was fretting over how the whole experience was affecting him, a little glimpse at these answers would have given me a bit more breathing space! I hope your little ones are doing well! Kasey

  2. Kasey, Thank you and Tucker for talking about the siblings. Like your Tucker and Andie, my boys are two years apart. At only 4.5 we can’t yet have these types of conversations with Kellen, but through play therapy he is learning to find the words. I hope one day he can be as honest and eloquent with his responses as Tucker.

    • Tatum, I love that you have Kellen in play therapy and would love to hear more about this. Have you written about it on your website? Do you have a link to share? Tuck began painting therapy at the beginning of 3rd grade and it was incredibly helpful, but I would have loved to have started something when he was younger. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Sherri Hoos says:

    Wish I had your book when I unexpectedly went into labor at 26 weeks with our 1 lb. daughter…I had four other kids at the time, ages 8 yrs, 6 yrs, 3 yrs and 2 yrs. One of the most difficult times in our lives as we had to drive an hour each way to the hospital. I only got to visit every other day because of the children at home. Our preemie is a perfectly fine and healthy 8 year old whom we all adore every day.

    • So funny, Sherri, I wish that I’d my book when our Andie was born so early, which is exactly why I wrote it, so other moms like us don’t have to feel so alone, so confused, so EVERYTHING! I can’t even get my head around the prospect of FOUR other kids at home! How in the world did you do it???? Actually, I get asked the same question, and always answer that I just didn’t have a choice. RIght? We just do what we have to do! So delighted to hear your EIGHT year old preemie is thriving! Hooray!

  4. Kathleen Rutty-Fey says:

    Ah, Kasey! This is so poignant and lends me insight into both Tucker and Andie. Am I supposed to work after reading this? I am too emotional! I loved both of their interviews!

  5. Marina Anciães says:

    Dear Kathlen,

    Thank you for your wonderful idea and thanks to Tucker, who did not know what he was going through and now can help us knowing what his feelings were. I got emotional by reading the interview, as it is such a powerful experience for those worried about siblings of premiers. I imagine how you felt after being able to look back to that so many years after the rough time you all went through. I am now 29 weeks pregnant of my second girl, with a 3 years old sibling who just can’t wait to see her baby daughter. I am at risk with pre eclampsia, just as it was with my first. I have uterine notch and the forecast is that the baby will not grow and develop as she should after 32 weeks and we might need to have a c-section at anytime. It is a very anxious time and I am trying to learn what to say and how to prepare my toddler, and myself, for the time ahead. Thank you for you lovely courage to open your family experience with us. Best, Marina.

  6. Marina Anciães says:

    Ps. My first DD was born at 34 weeks and stayed 15 days at the NICU without much problems, she did not need tubes or anything and I could breast feeding from the beginning, she had IUGR and needed to gain weight, only. So it sounds that I have been to that road but I am worried about going back there, and in particular about my older girl.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Sometimes I write over on the website, Preemie Babies 101. […]

  2. […] An Interview with a Preemie Sibling by Kasey Matthews for Preemie Babies 101 […]

  3. […] back and imagine how hard this must had been on Noah. When I came across a similar interview on another blog, I decided that rather than imagining how he felt, I would ask Noah himself. In honor of World […]

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