Preemies, Parenthood and the NICU Journey

By: Cheryl Abrams

Every day is Happy Mother’s Day for Kasey Mathews and her family, including husband, Lee, son Tucker, and daughter, Andie, who was born prematurely, arriving at just 25 weeks. Weighing a mere one pound, 11 ounces, she survived and happily will turn 19 this fall.

A 1985 graduate of Jamesville-Dewitt High School, Kasey was the guest speaker May 9 at a gathering of the Crouse Health Society, members of the community who donate at the leadership level to the Crouse Health Foundation.

She was joined by NewsChannel 9’s Sistina Giordano, whose son, Eddie, spent several hours in the Baker Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Crouse Health following his birth.

The visit was well-timed to the Foundation’s recent announcement of its major campaign to renovate and expand the Crouse NICU.

Mothers at Crouse Health Foundation event May 9 2019

Kasey Mathews (front row, center, in pink) surrounded by all the mothers who attended the May 9 Crouse Health Society presentation.

Facing Fears
Their presentation was intended to provide the guests with a first-hand account of the fears that mothers face when there is a premature or challenging birth.

Kasey and Sistina talked about the importance of family-centered care, especially in the NICU setting. They emphasized the need for compassionate staff who provide not just medical care, but empathy and support.

Most of all, Kasey wants new parents to know, “No matter the circumstances, what’s important is that you know you are not alone…that someone has walked this path before you.” To help others realize that, Kasey has written several books about her family’s journey and shares her thoughts and feelings regularly on her website.

You Are Not Alone
“My story began when I thought I’d given birth to the smallest baby ever born. She arrived four months prematurely, weighing one pound, eleven ounces. I was desperate for someone who could understand what I was going through, hold my hand and tell me I would get through this. Preemie book imageBut no one arrived, and I was lost and lonely. Which is why I wrote Preemie, a book whose universal message has inspired thousands of readers from all around the world.”

Following the insightful and inspiring perspectives of Kasey and Sistina, the talk turned to the practical matters involving the Foundation’s “Little Fighters” campaign. NICU Nurse Manager Erin Coleman spoke about the specific challenges for Crouse’s NICU.

NICU Needs
“The unit is frequently at capacity,” she explained, “with little room for families to bond with fragile newborns, and is not designed for today’s the modern technology.  Betty O’Connor, director of Women and Infants Services, talked about plans for the expanded NICU, featuring private space for the most critically ill infants and their families.

The bond and connection new parents will be able to make with their babies in the NICU is priceless, as Kasey knows well. “My 2019 word of the year is Connection… the incredible power of connection,” she wrote on a recent blog post worth checking out.

We thank Kasey for coming home to talk about her journey as the mother of a premature baby, underscoring the importance of the Baker Regional NICU to our Central New York community and the 14-counties we serve.

The connections of those who care about our tiniest patients will keep our NICU strong for generations to come.

About the Little Fighters Campaign
The Crouse Health Foundation is raising $10 million to support a $31 million NICU expansion and renovation project through its Little Fighters campaign. The support of our region is essential to reach our goal to build a state-of-the-art facility for little fighters and their families.

The Baker Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a special place where miracles occur every day. Over the past 40 years, Crouse has grown to become home to the area’s premier and highest level NICU, providing intensive care for newborns and families from a 14-county region of New York State.

Today’s NICU was built in 1999 and is not adequately configured to meet the needs to tomorrow’s critically ill infants and their families. Our goal is to increase, modernize and transform the unit.




Cheryl Abrams earned her M.S. in Communications Management from Syracuse University's Newhouse School and is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, NY.

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