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An Interview with My Preemie

Kasey with children

At the end of this past summer, I sat down with my 15-year-old boy and interviewed him about being the sibling of a preemie.  After that interview, it seemed only natural to interview the preemie herself.  So my daughter, Andie and I recently sat down across a table from each other at a Panera Bread.  She slurped her chicken noodle soup, and I pretended to put on my journalist persona.

Nice to meet you, Andie. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet me. 

No problem, Mom!

So, tell me, do you think of yourself as a preemie?

Not really.  Well I mean, sometimes, like when I’m not good in math, or something else, like if I drink my water weirdly, like Tucker says I do, I wonder if other preemies do that?  That’s how my mind works…I compare myself to other people and wonder about how other people do things.

Do you ever tell people you were a preemie?

If it comes up.  Sometimes I want people to know.  I mean, like, I don’t say, “Look at these scars on my tummy,” but I want people to know if they’re wondering. Like at the soccer party, when we went in the hot tub, and I was in a bikini and one of the girls asked what happened to my stomach.

What’d you tell her?

I told her that when I was born, I had to get surgery.

What do you say about your scars?

I don’t like to say that I had to get surgery on the tube where my poop comes out. It depends on who I’m talking to. Like if it’s my best friend, than it’s no big deal, but if it’s someone I don’t know well, it’s sort of embarrassing.  I know there is another scar on my back, but I don’t know what it was for.  (I explain the PDA valve surgery and the scar under her shoulder blade.)  Oh, I call that my angel wing.

So you’re ok with your scars?

I used to not really like them. I mean, like, this may sound weird, but, like, if I were a model, the people would want to Photoshop or get rid of the scars because they don’t like to show people’s real bodies, which I think is really stupid.  Yeah, I guess I don’t really care about the scars.

What’s it like when you hear other people talk about you as a preemie? Like when Mom and Dad tell your story? 

It’s sort of embarrassing, and I like to talk about my own news.  I guess it doesn’t really bother me, but if I’m talking to my friends, I want to tell them.  So if you’re talking to your friends, it’s different. I guess I don’t really like it when you tell other adults, but I know you can’t help it.

You’re turning 13 next month.  What are some of your favorite things to do these days?

Well, this is a recent one – shop at Express in the mall.  I also like to watch TV.  I sort of like the Disney Channel, but I’m kinda growing out of that. There are a lot of movies I’d like to see, but some are rated R, so I can’t.  I like comedy movies and I love British accents.  I love Dunkin Donuts plain bagels toasted with butter and cream cheese, and I also like plain Lay’s chips and regular Doritos. I like Nike and Adidas and Alex Morgan, so obviously I like soccer.  I love to play soccer outside with Daddy. And my favorite song is Royals by Lorde.

Have you ever thought you wouldn’t be able to do something because you were a preemie?

No.  I’ve never thought of that before.

Have you ever wished you weren’t a preemie? 

No. For me, the preemie thing hasn’t had as big an effect on my life. (She points across the table at me.)

So you think it’s had a big effect on Mom and Dad’s lives? 

Uh huh. I mean, like, you guys were worrying your heads off, and I was just there. I mean, sometimes it feels like it wasn’t even really me, because I don’t really remember any of it. It’s like when someone has amnesia and they only see pictures to remember the past.

What was it like when you recently went back to visit the NICU? 

It never really settled in, like, how small I was. At this point in my life, it’s just starting to settle in.  It’s crazy that I was so small.

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Is there anything you’d like to tell other preemies out in the world, especially those younger than you?

(She takes a big bite of her pumpkin cookie.)  I know you say things to preemie parents and stuff, but I mean, I just feel, like, normal, except for teenage stuff, like not wanting to grow up and sort of wanting to grow up.  So I don’t know what to say.

You hear Mom and Dad offer advice to other preemie parents.  Is there any advice you would offer?

I wouldn’t say they’re gonna be fine, because that might not be true. But I wasn’t a preemie parent, so I don’t really know what to say.  But if I was on the spot, I’d probably freak out and just say, “Don’t worry.”  But they should try not to worry like crazy.

Ok, last question.  Is there any part of you that likes that you were a preemie? 

Yeah. I kinda like the attention.

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Oh how I wish I had interviewed my kiddos when they were younger! Hopefully this will inspire you to interview your preemie and see how the answers change over the years!  Maybe each year as they dress in their Halloween costumes, ask a few questions and record their answers in a nearby notebook!

Happy Halloween! And if you’re looking for that perfect Halloween costume for your preemie, check out this Preemie Babies 101 post from a couple years ago!  Preemie Halloween Costumes

 

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, love, love this interview Kasey. I think maybe I should start interviewing Daphne. She always has lots to say. And I appreciate Andie’s take on her scars. Daphne has a vast abdominal scar from her kidney transplant, and a slighter one from open-heart surgery. I do wonder how she will deal with them in the future. I keep them covered with a one-piece bathing suit for now.

    • Melissa, I think you would love the interview process! And it gives the kids such a sense that they’re really being heard. I’ll be curious to hear her thoughts on the scars. Andie has always worn a bikini and surprisingly seems to have become even more comfortable with the scars as she’s gotten older. I’ll keep you posted as we move deeper into the teenage years!

  2. Great interview! When Colin was about 3, we were watching a tv show about preemies and out of the blue he said – “I didn’t like it when the nurse did that to me.” Not sure what the actual memory was, but there was definitely something there. I always forget about Emerson’s scars until I see him in the bathtub or swimming. I think it is the invisible scars of the parents that are the most difficult to deal with.

  3. Michelle HenselMichelle Hensel says:

    I love this! My kids are only 3 1/2, but I bet they would feel the same way as Andie. They have the scars and the “angel wing” scars, but at this point, they don’t have many lasting effects from their extremely early arrival. I think they would think that prematurity affected me more than them which is how Andie’s interview sounds to me. Great post!

  4. Kasey, this is awesome and it really has me thinking about interviewing my older kids about their brother’s birth. Luke’s interview time will come. I loved this.

  5. Thank you so much for posting about your interview with your daughter. She sounds like an amazing young lady. Ella is only 18 months old but this really gives me something to chew on. Besides so many things, I have worried since her first NEC surgery at 4 weeks old about how she would deal with her scars. This is so helpful! And let her know I will try harder not to worry like crazy!

  6. Kasey, Please tell Andie thank you for being such a good sport. I loved reading her thoughts about being a preemie. I look forward to interviewing Jackson soon. I know he also enjoys the attention, but at the same time wishes he did not have to deal with so many preemie challenges. Hugs to you and your sweet family!

    Kelli

    • Kelli, that was the best part as far as Andie was concerned – having Mama’s undivided attention. I bet Jackson will love it and asked him how he’s feeling about these “preemie challenges.”

  7. This was wonderful! One of my 25 weekers has a shunt from hydrocephalus, and I often wonder what that will be like for her growing up, how she’ll think about what happened to her in those early months (and her own tummy scar when she’s in a bathing suit around her friends). She’s only 7 months corrected, so who knows how her story will continue to play out, but I can only hope that one day we’ll get to have a conversation like this when she is your daughter’s age! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alana, it’s nice to imagine that day isn’t it? A boy in my son Tucker’s class has a shunt. I was a chaperone on their 8th grade trip to the beach in South Carolina and although he has a big scar across his belly, he is one of the most confident kids I’ve ever met. It was such a joy to see him so fearless on the beach and in the water with all his classmates who absolutely adore him! Visions for your future! XO

      • Wow, thank you for sharing that! I absolute love hearing stories about other kids with shunts who are doing well – it gives us hope that Madeleine will still get to have the amazing life she deserves. And, as a ‘shunt mom’, I can’t help by feel so proud of that boy. How wonderful!!!

  8. That gave me the chills. What a wonderful young woman. Thank you, Kasey and Andie. It’s really encouraging to hear Andie’s perspective and acceptance of her premature birth.

  9. Thank you soooo much for sharing the heart felt interview with your daughter.
    It always worries me that my daughter will be insecure about all her scars and being a preemie but your daughter has shown maturity and class.
    I just love it!!! Can’t wait to do my interview with my daughter in a few years.

  10. This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for sharing. Andie is smart & beautiful! My preemie (former 23wkr) turned 2 last month and is completely healthy, caught up in all areas except weight, and is the joy of our lives. I’d like to do an interview like this when she’s older. Do you have any tips for how to tell a child they were a preemie? How did you approach that with Andie? She’s seen her NICU pictures, but I wonder how she may react when she’s older and how we as parents could handle that. Thank you!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Even though I’m taking a break from blogging here, I’m still blogging over on the Preemie Babies 101 site. […]

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

  3. […] time to start moving away from all-things-preemie and moving towards all-things-life. I love this post from another mom, Kasey, who interviewed her once-preemie, now 13. Essentially, her daughter tells […]

  4. […] Even though I’m taking a break from blogging here, I’m still blogging over on the Preemie Babies 101 site. […]

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