As many of you know, I recently found myself jolted into motherhood … sour milk stains, dingy diapers, dodging a sprinkler system with every changing and more exhaustion than I ever thought possible. My bags have bags … my circles have circles … and yes, I’m loving it.
Tuesday was eight weeks since our little Max-just Max, no longer name, no middle name … just Max-was born in the Ospedale Pugliese in downtown Catanzaro. He was five-or six, my doctor now thinks-weeks early and noooo, we weren’t ready for his big debut.
However, the adventure really began two days earlier, on Saturday, December 18 when “I broke my waters,” as my husband told my mom and I was admitted into the hospital. Although we were taking a childbirth class, we had only completed about half of them and I had yet to tour the pale green corridor of rooms and baths that would be my home for the next five days.
Saturday night was a whirlwind of sights, sounds and emotions as I checked into the hospital and was pulled like a spoiled child in a candy store from my husband. “No boys allowed,” they told me at the entrance. “Say your goodbyes here.”
So, I crept through the darkened hallway-it was near midnight by this time-and was given a bed near the wall. The next two days I pulled around an IV that slowed my labor and spent most of my time chatting with the five other girls in my room. My husband was allowed in a couple of times a day during visiting hours and if I’d had a mother, sister or female friend around, she’d have been allowed to stay the night.
After lunch on Monday, the 20th, they removed my IV and told me they’d induce the next morning. I told my husband to go home and promised to call as things progressed. Around 1:00 AM that night I started having contractions and even though I’d have preferred to be in a private room surrounded by my family-or at least in this case, my husband-I walked the halls of Catanzaro’s maternity ward.
For the next hour and a half I rotated between the hallway and my room and bounced between a jolly, dark-haired nurse and my cell mates. Some of the girls and their mammas woke up and took turns rubbing my back. (We also played a game of robe-on/robe-off … meaning, I’d throw it off, they’d put it back on me … a dance that continued until I left the room.)
The hospital in Catanzaro doesn’t offer epidurals, so I’d planned to hire a private doctor to be there … just in case and I’d planned to take some of my doctor’s magical homeopathic medicine to prepare for labor and delivery. Both of these were planned for the following week, an irony that did not escape me, even in the throes of labor and the uncertainty of what was to come.
At 2:30 AM, the nurse told me to call my husband and led me across the hall to the labor/delivery room. Ten minutes and two mamma-mia-of-all-contractions later I was introduced to the bubbly, curly-haired OB nurse who would deliver Max.
She did a quick exam, told me Max was ready to be born and grabbed a clipboard and pen.
“Can you spell your name for me?” She asked ….
“What are you doing in Catanzaro?” Her assistant wanted to know …
“What is the highest level of education you received?” … again from the nurse …
“What about your husband?”
“I studied English in school,” the assistant said. I’d love to visit America …
“What is his job?” The inquisition continued …
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” I told her between breaths, wondering how much more she could possibly need to know to deliver my child.
“A writer!” They both said, surprised.
The nurse put the clipboard on the table … “What do you write?”
“I feel like I should push now,” I told her, bringing the attention back to, uhm … me.
“It’s ok,” she said, as she stayed happily planted up near my nose. “Go ahead and push.”
“But my husband isn’t here.” I told her, wondering what was taking so long.
“He’ll be here,” she said. “Don’t worry.”
A few minutes later he did, indeed, show up, wearing a cute little green paper gown, shoe covers and matching hat. (You should realize that I was instructed to pack a white gown I could deliver in, but my husband’s “daddy attire” was provided by the hospital.)
I remember him being introduced to the nurse and her assistant, who realized they all grew up in the same neighborhood. He took over answering the remaining questions … someone else walked in and asked me to sign something … and about 30 minutes later-at 3:23 AM-Max was born.
About 10 seconds after that, my doctor walked in.
My husband and I got to hold Max and spend what seemed like a few minutes with him before they took him to NICU. My husband got to stay another hour with me, then I was rolled back across the hall into my room.
The next day it was business as usual and my husband was, once again, only allowed in during visiting hours. Our experience with NICU is a post in itself but suffice it to say that we all eventually made it home and we are settling into some semblance of a routine.
If you’ve had a hospital experience in Italy, I’d love to hear about it. Write about your experience in the comments!
Speaking of new moms, dads and getting settled, I’d like to wish a very special Buon Viaggio to my friend, Stephanie and her husband who, after waiting for this day for over a decade, are leaving today for China, where they will meet their new daughter, Andi, and bring her back to Texas. I’m over-the-moon-excited for you both and I hope you enjoy parenthood as much as we do.
Traveling to southern Italy with your kiddos? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip.