The one thing that upset me most while pregnant was hearing a million stupid comments about pregnancy, breastfeeding and what do expect. And the one thing I learned through my pregnancy and in becoming a mother is that everyone is different and every baby is unique.
One of my dearest friends is pregnant. When she told me, I was so excited for her I thought I might explode! Fortunately, she’s having a really good pregnancy. She looks great, feels good, is preparing for the arrival of her baby with less than 2 months to go and… well… I really should finish crocheting that blanket! The one thing she has had to put up with is hearing from people who think they are some sort of expert on pregnancy that her bump is small. She confided in me that she cried over it recently, worried that it was her fault because her belly seems smaller than most women’s. Instead, I look at her and I see a perfectly growing baby inside of her. I just think that this little girl wants to stay as close as possible to her mother’s heart instead of tilting out just yet… But hearing about these comments made me think about the crap people told me while I was pregnant and an extra incident this week with a “pregnancy scaremonger” I had avoided since I was 7 months along…
So, without further ado, here are the top 5 scaremongering comments I was subjected to:
1. You won’t know if you have milk ’til your baby’s born! (I bet a lot of women hear this one! All women, except for those with some rare medical problems or who have undergone a bilateral mastectomy can produce milk!)
2. You can’t be around cats! (There’s a bit of a toxoplasmosis obsession over here… For the record, the vet said since we’d had the cat for 3 years and I hadn’t caught it after all that time, he was not a carrier!)
3. You’ll have to have a cesarean! (Oh my gosh, at 22 weeks my baby was still feet down and this was what I had to hear?!)
4. I ended up having an emergency c-section and I had 2 broken ribs. (Um… no comment here…at 8 months pregnant these things just didn’t register anymore.)
5. You might not be able to breastfeed because you wear glasses. (There’s some goofy old wives tale out there that breastfeeding worsens your eyesight.)
Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that 1, 2, 3 and 5 were from the same person. At least once you find a pregnancy scaremonger, you know to expect the same scary comments at your next meeting.
The other day, this same person, in trying to tell me not to continue breastfeeding said to me that breastfeeding causes depression and then yelled at my daughter, “basta booby! basta booby!” (no more booby! no more booby!) and you better believe my little girl started to cry. (Needless to say, I’ve decided to not go out of my way to see this person anymore.)
On the way home with my 14 month old daughter in my arms I told her that she can have booby as long as she wants. That people are entitled to their own opinions, but that those opinions don’t have anything to do with us.
And sitting here typing this with one hand as I nurse my daughter, I hope that these words are wise advice that I am learning myself too.
“Maria, these walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.” – Mother Superior in The Sound of Music
Giovanni bought me The Sound of Music DVD for my birthday this year. Somehow seeing these films I so loved as a child and which brought me to imagine a world outside my day to day existence has made me quite emotional of late. During several scenes over the 2 evenings that we watched this film, I found myself with that sensation of magone, with the tears rising slightly in my eyes. An emotional release paired with an intense sense of melancholy… I suppose that’s how I look back on my 32 years. I look back at the seemingly endless hours I played therapist daily for years to my —– on the phone and I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot. And a big part of missing out has always been the comfort of letting things stay as they are and continuing to pick up the phone and dial…
To change inside takes effort and change is frightening. Until I became pregnant, sitting up in bed trying to mentally escape from my violent dead of night panic attacks with the trembling throughout my body and the wretching that accompanied the emotional weight my mind and body were trying desperately to vomit out of me was the safe option. And the safe option has also been relying on those who raised me. I grew up thinking I was deeply flawed, only make bad decisions and in general will never be able to farcela da sola, make it on my own. I still think these things daily.
Now I face these problems, instead of shutting them out. Some days I’ve had the feeling that they are so overwhelming I can barely breathe. In those moments I don’t act. Instead I ride the wave until I reach that point where I can start my healing again. I’m gradually cutting ties now as the pull to stay in that situation has made life impossible. I desperately need to not have my interests constantly encroached upon by my —–. It hurts, I hurt. I feel intense guilt and self-doubt, but I suppose it’s no worse than the shame I’ve been living with for most of my adult life and more. I’ve even thought of stopping this blog as a way of keeping as much of my life as private and safe as possible from this situation. But I like my blog. I like sharing bits of life as an expat in Italy, but I’d like to share less of these deep wounds. I want to take full responsability for my life and close the door on those unhappy years (not that every single moment was terrible). I want to face the difficulties that disappointment brings and the joys of life and realising that I am capable, that I am worthy, that I am me, and that my mistakes and successes are all mine. They make up the life I was born to live.
I was angry Tuesday morning. So I made blueberry muffins. Beautiful blueberry muffins. But, like I said, I was angry and crying and I dripped the batter all over the muffin tin while I filled up my yellow muffin papers. I’ve had some stressful days and have been on edge, but somehow baking is something that helps me get rid of nervous energy and since the weather’s been a little unstable, at least it was something I could do at home. Yesterday, some problems hit red alert level. Since I met my husband 5 years ago, I began to realise exactly how unhealthy some situations had become and speaking with him has always given me clarity. This past week I’ve needed him more than ever before. Baking muffins is a small token, but one that will be repeated this week as a sign of my gratitude for his patience, understanding, empathy and love…
The recipe was inspired by this vegan recipe. But I never follow recipes to the letter… I only follow the proportion guidelines… well, more or less anyway…
Blueberry Muffin Recipe
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add eggs, oil and milk and mix gently. Stir in blueberries. Spoon into muffin tin, bake for approx. 25 minutes. Makes 12 light, fluffy and healthier than your average muffins.
25 April is the Festa della Liberazione here in Italy. A day I usually daydream what the end of WWII must have been like, what the people went through here and back home. I also daydream the fashion and see Rosie the Riveter as a great inspiration. But it’s also a holiday and what better thing to do on a holiday when the sun is shining? Go for a long walk to The Bagel Factory obviously! The walk down there is great. We go down residential streets and through a big park. We stop to let Wynne stretch her legs a bit and then keep going. We pass Sephora. We have one here now but they were closed! What a pity! We pass Au nom de la rose… quite the expensive little flower shop, but who can resist their enticing display of petals on the sidewalk?
And then it’s american filtered coffee for Giovanni and café au lait for me at our bagel joint. Wynne let the woman who works there pick her up, play with her, take her behind the counter! Where did my shy little girl suddenly disappear to? She’s growing up… She went to make friends with a basset hound in the park, smiled at the basset hound’s human mamma. But when it came to wanting mamma (and booby), she was all cuddled close to me again. I’ll take as many of those moments as I can get to balance out her new independence.
At home we had a bagel lunch and Wynne tried asparagus. (I later found the partially sucked on asparagus underneath her seat cushion. How did it get there? I think this explains pseudo-glamorous now.) Post-lunch it was booby and naptime. Giovanni rested his eyes on the sofa and I sat at the computer dreaming about gelato. They opened up a gelateria way too close to home! (mint and trawberry for Giovanni, fior di panna and strawberry for me.)
Oh, and I wore my maternity/breastfeeding dress today. After publishing yesterday’s post, I immediately received an email from my sister asking if I was pregnant… Oops! Sorry to disappoint anyone who may have thought Wynne would be getting a little brother or sister, but I’m not pregnant. (TMI alert: I still haven’t gotten my cycle back. Aunt Flo is welcome to stay away for another 6 months or more! Take a nice LONG vacation, deary!) The funny thing is though that I don’t even think about maternity clothes as only for maternity… I’ve consistently worn all my maternity clothes (which were quite few in reality) since Wynne was born and my only regular clothes I couldn’t wear were my jeans anyway. Maternity leggings and tops have all still been in circulation, but the 1 maternity dress I had, no, because I can’t breastfeed in it. And that’s why I splurged on the dress yesterday. (I only splurged because it was 50% off… and it was still more than I’d normal pay for clothes!)
Not being able to wear a dress all winter has made me a little sad. There are clothes in my closet saying, “why have you forgotten us” and pretty dresses I just can’t wear… and in general lots of clothes that aren’t leggings or simple jersey tops that say, “hey lady, why don’t you dress up anymore?” And don’t even get my started my high heels ! They’ve decided I’m a frump now and that’s why they’re giving me the silent treatment. I love this dress. With 3/4 length sleeves it’s perfect for winter and fall and spring. (And wouldn’t you know I didn’t evem take a photo of myself in the dress today!)
This evening I’m asking myself a question: Why can’t I go 24 hours without chipping my nailpolish? Yep, we’re all serious around here.
I decided that it was time to start just living. Panic aside for now and forever. I’m tired of deciding not to do things at the last minute, I’m tired of worrying about the million “ifs” that could happen. After all, how many of them actually do happen anyway? And so Wynne and I makes plans, fill our week up with activities, even if many of them are just going to the neighbourhood park. I get to chat with mothers and Wynne is beginning to interact more with other children.
So today we went to Duomo. The centre is always pretty packed with tourists or just regular Milanesi. I love the centre. It’s magical. It has museums and shops and La Rinascente… La Rinascente is a bit like Saks Fifth Avenue or Harrod’s. (We’ll go there next time, because I want to check out the expensive makeup counters and pretend I can afford a Louis Vuitton purse for 10 minutes! Ha ha!!) For today I thought, “just go to the centre. Go take photos for your next article for Milano Art Expo and if you feel up to it when you get there, take Wynne to the Modigliani exhibition at Palazzo Reale too.”
Well, we got on the trolley for our 20 minute trip in town and went straight to Palazzo Reale for the exhibition. The staff was fantastic, we made friends with one of the lovely women there and Wynne got her first taste of Modigliani in person. (You may recall how she already chose him as a favourite here.) I made it a pretty fast trip through the exhibition. I don’t read the titles of every work and only make long pauses in front of the works that really catch my eye. I saw many of his contemporaries I was unfamiliar with, we looked at everything, I named the colours (so many beautiful earthy hues!) and I told her which ones were my favourites. There were a couple school groups going through, so I wasn’t worried about her getting fussy or anything. It was perfect and something I now know I can do with her anytime!
After the exhibition I just had to pick up a little notebook and fridge magnet at the gift shop before heading out into the sunlight. We stopped to take some photos, I puchased a beautiful purple maternity/breastfeeding dress for 50% off at The Milk Bar (more on that coming soon!) . And we made a quick stop at Ladurée for some Macaron before heading home. (Pistacchio, lemon, coffee and hazelnut this time.) Oh, and we made friends with the staff there too! Those momemts of chatting with people at an exhibition or in a shop make me really happy.
And yes, I am the type of wife who sends a message to her husband saying, “Almost home. I’m starving!” to get an invite for lunch out. The fact that he knows exactly that his suggesting said lunch out makes me feel special means I’ve found the perfect mate!
Finding joy in everyday life