Friday, April 5, 2013

Weaning the Italian Way

My Little Miracle

It's been a while since I have blogged with my hands full with work, baby and life but I had to take some time out to write about my experience in weaning.  I often search the Internet for baby advice but didn't seem to find anyone in the same situation as me. So, I hope that this blog  may help another mother through the trials and tribulations of weaning.

I am a stay at home mom, juggling a work at home job, maintaining the household and it's daily dirty duties, and most importantly, caring for my precious, little, too cute you want to eat him, Tasmanian devil whose got too much energy in him for my own good.  Whoaaaa that was a mouthful.

I am with my baby 24/7 and when I mean 24/7, I truly mean 24/7.  He is now 20 months and still doesn't sleep through the night.  He still wakes up every one or two hours.  My baby never drank from a bottle again after two months when I stopped supplementing him with formula.  Since I was always with him, I always nursed and had no need to pump.  At first, the two hour feedings were consistent.  Then when I started giving him solids, they lessened in time but not feedings as he always still wanted to nurse after eating.  Then, it definitely became a comfort thing whenever he just needed me as a pacifier.  I tried to resist, but it was hard when he would get upset so it was just easier to give in.

So, when it came to his first birthday, and the day I wanted to wean, it was practically impossible.  I tried doing the slow route by weaning feedings but he just wasn't having it.  I tried putting lemon on my boobs but he would just make the sour face, then try again and again and then just got use to it!  I didn't want to go cold turkey but part of me thinks I wasn't ready to wean and my baby wasn't either.  I didn't want to force him.  Besides, they do say it's beneficial to breastfeed until two years old so we weren't doing any harm.

A couple months passed and there were days where I truly had enough.  I'm not a bad mother, and any mother can relate, but some days were just exhausting when he got too attached to my boob and wanted it constantly.  Those were the days where I wanted to stop. Then there were those days when baby was sick or got hurt and nursing him immediately soothed him and that soothed me as well.  Breastfeeding is truly an amazing experience, an immense gift from God, and a beautiful relationship between mother and baby.

Then, one day, a week shy of his 20 month mark, I took him out to visit family and when I came home, I realized he hadn't asked for milk for five hours.  A true record.  So, I thought, okay let's give it another try.  My sister-in-law also suggested putting band aids on my boobies so that when he did try to go for them he would see that I had a boo boo and they weren't accessible.  It worked! When he tried to go for them, he looked at the band aids and started to cry but just for a little while and then got distracted.  He cried much less than any other time I tried to wean which made me realize maybe he was finally ready.  I then had to prepare myself for a rough night.

It went much smoother than I expected.  He would wake up a couple times and look for my boob, but then I resisted and held him tight and he was able to fall back sleep again in my arms, holding on tight.  This went on for another three or four days, each day getting easier and easier.

He is now finally weaned! I can't believe it.  It's ironic, when you give birth, the first month or so is so stressful when you are trying to nurse and pump and make them latch on and want you instead of the bottle.  Then comes this milestone, where you are doing what you can to stop.  Motherhood is truly a unique experience.

And before I forget, the advice that I must share with you all that I have not found on the Internet.   My Italian mother-in-law advised me to put perfume on my nipples when weaning as it stopped the production of milk and eased the pain.  I thought this was pretty wild and figured I would still have to pump to release some of the engorgement, but to my pleasant surprise, it did just that!  When you are weaning, and not giving your baby any milk, spray perfume as many times as necessary directly on your nipples.  Magic.

Okay, I think blog has been long enough and you may have a little one to get back to as well but good luck and if you are ever stressed out in being a mother, or may feel like you aren't the best, just remember you are not alone, and you are doing the best that you could, and most importantly, your baby thinks you are quite perfect in every way.  


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random Act of Kindness

Yesterday I brought Antonio up to the back of the church where there is this huge beautiful area where people can hang out, with a playground, a grass area, and a stage.  It was a beautiful sunny and breezy morning after three days of odd rain and wind.  We got up there and there was no one there but the people who clean and for a first time in a long time, I felt such peace and tranquility.  I let Antonio run around and explore and of course got in a photo session of him. =)

As we were leaving, one of the ladies who was sweeping asks what my baby's name is.  I say, "Antonio".  And she says, "My name is Carmela.  What's yours?".  And I respond, "Anna."  And she says, "Ohhhh, it's your Onomastico tomorrow, Auguri!"  Of course, all of this in Italian...tomorrow, or yet today, is Sant'Anna.  She comes over to me and shakes me hand. And I say, "Thank you and Buona Giornata".  Small talk like this amongst strangers is not uncommon here... but to me, it made my day.  It's tough being a foreigner and it's nice when people don't treat me as a foreigner.

Thank you Carmela!  Little did you know, the couple of seconds you took to talk to me made my day. =)

Here are some photos from Antonio's photo shoot for the day. =) 







Monday, July 9, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship with Italian Summers

Summer has finally arrived here in Italy and oh has it arrived!  I mean we went from a rainy May to a funky June to a blazing hot July!  I really do dread summers here.  They are beyond humid and my LA blood is use to the heat but NOT the humidity.  I still remember the first time I experienced it.... It was the summer of 2004 and I came to visit my now husband and we were going to take a trip to Rimini.  As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was instantly STICKY!  I had never felt this way ever!  I was so confused and immediately asked, why am I so sticky?  LOL, call me ignorant?  Well that sensation soon became old... Fast forward to today, and I have learned to cope as well as I can to the summers here.  With air conditioning, more than one shower a day, not going out in the middle of the day, and Off! in my bag ALL the time.  Yes, another reason I loathe Italian summers... the mosquitoes love me.  After realizing they all flock to me and make me swollen with itchiness, I don't leave home without my bug spray.

But enough about being negative!  I love the summertime so much more than the wintertime that I have to focus on all the things I do look forward to.  First off, are ALL the fruits that are in season. Yummmmm.  Apricots, watermelon, plums, peaches, nectarines yummmmm.  Oh and the vegetables too!  Eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans.  They manage to keep the vegetables in stock all year round at the markets but when they are in season, they truly have so much more flavor.  Second thing I love, mare and piscina!!!! No better way to beat the heat than to head to the coast or to the mountains and pool to cool off.  And last but not least, the Sagras!   Sagras are little festivals held in the evening in little towns where they feature a particular food that they specialize in or are known for in that area.  It's really fun and casual and really capture the Italian ambience.  There's music and dancing and everyone just having a good time relaxing and eating.  We try to go to one every weekend.  Last week we went to one that was for Gnocchi.

All in all, I am making the most of it and taking advantage of all the things I do enjoy about it!  And keeping the A/C on while doing it!  =)  Buon Estate Tutti!


Monday, January 30, 2012

"Salute" To My Ladies


This blog goes out to all my beautiful, strong, independent ladies out there. Lately, I have been reminiscing about my decision to move to Italy and how I have met so many other ladies who have made the big move as well. I was asking myself why is it that women find the need to "find themselves" when men don't? I know so many women who have ventured out of their comfort zone, to explore the world, to follow love, to find love, to challenge themselves. It may sound like a cliche but it is a cliche that shows how strong and independent we can be. That even if we may have a moment of uncertainty, a longing for a dream come true, a question about our identity, or the need to fill a void... we follow our instinct and intuition into the unknown rather than running from it.

This blog goes out to all of my fellow lady expats who have followed their hearts into a foreign country and have been able to stay true to themselves and yet also manage to reinvent themselves only to be stronger, wiser and more passionate. Salute!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

C'e Crisi, C'e Crisi


The phrase of 2011 in Italy was "C'e Crisi, C'e Crisi"(There's Crisis, There's Crisis)... you heard it everywhere... in everyday conversations, at home, on the news, and Striscia La Notizia. I don't know how it was in the States since I wasn't back at all in 2011 but the economic crisis was definitely live and booming here. Unfortunately, with hopes of a new year, fresh start, and the year of the dragon... things have just gotten worse here. Gas prices have sky-rocketed that gas stations have raised the price on gas and now don't even have any more gas - causing pay tolls and everything else to rise in cost as well. On monday, all truckers went on strike throughout Italy. If any trucker tried to get on the autostrada, they were stopped by all the others. And this did happen... one trucker got stopped and his wheels slashed. Another trucker trying to stop a German big-rig even got ran over and killed... tragic... Moreover, since all truckers are on strike, supermarkets and stores are not getting their regular shipments and are dwindling in their stock. It is insane... Of course one event would create this domino effect, but when will it end? It seems like they are digging a deeper and deeper hole into the crisis. It doesn't help that the euro is losing it's value as each day goes by, banks are going bankrupt, financial institutions are charging you 32€ for every 5000€ you have in the bank, more people are losing their jobs and the cost of living just gets higher. Can we really be going into another Great Depression?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Can Take the Girl Out of the City but not the City Out of the Girl


It has been 15 months since I have been back to L.A. and I am feeling it! It's been such an experience, not only living in Italy, but in a small town in Italy. I have realized the good and bad about it... but no matter what, I am and will always be a city girl. Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with me that I can't wait to land at LAX and take in the atmosphere as I step outside... aka... the smog. That I can't wait to sit in traffic, where it is really my only "alone" time and I get to rock out to my music. That I'm dying to be in crowds in the middle of the afternoon instead of deserted streets at 2pm. That I can eat at any time of day I want and the restaurant will be open. I will have lunch at 11am if I am hungry or dinner at 6pm if I want to instead of waiting till 9pm like all the so-called "normal" people here. I can go to the supermarket at night in some warm-ups and not have to worry about bumping into someone or being dressed inappropriately. Sigh... Italy is bellissima but I miss my big city and big city ways.

Of course, when I am back there, there will be things I miss about Italy... but I have never been away from LA for more than 6 months so it is just unacceptable. I hope to see you soon my big, crowded, expensive, smoggy, happening, fun, exciting city. A presto.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Giving Birth in Italia


So it's been almost 6 months since I have given birth and I have been meaning to write about my experience. As I have written before, I was really lucky to have a great OBGYN that I was comfortable with and to be giving birth in a private clinic 5 minutes from home but I wanted to fill you in on my actual hospital experience. So I was admitted and put into a room with 3 other females. I thought that was going to be bad, but given the fact that I was in the hospital for 6 days, it was really nice to have company, and I got along well with the girl next to me. The bad part about it was that when it came to visitors, it was like a madhouse in there and it would be impossible for you to get any rest. There is no control on how many visitors can come and even the visiting hours aren't really followed. So, there were times where there was like 20 people in the room. It was fine at first when I hadn't given birth yet and me and my family would just go downstairs to the lobby to get some air, but after I gave birth, it made it difficult for me or baby to get some peace and quiet.

One of the things that I found most unacceptable were the amenities and bathroom. The shower head was broken so water splattered everywhere, and to make it worse, there was no shower curtain or wall so you were pretty much washing down the entire bathroom. Moreover, they didn't supply toilet paper! We had to bring our own! On that note, we also had to bring our own water and drinks because beverages didn't come with the meal. We were to bring our own pjs or gowns because they don't wear hospital gowns there. And the machine to control baby's heart wasn't stationed next to each patient to control 24 hours, but you were brought to a room two times a day or a portable machine was brought to you to monitor for like 45 minutes. One of the worse things I remember the most, was that it was the middle of summer and beyond hot. The air conditioning wasn't that powerful and at night, the girls preferred to have the window open... which opening the window automatically turned off the air conditioning and also allowed all the mosquitoes come in! There was one morning I woke up with 7 bites... seriously unacceptable in a hospital. And beyond unacceptable to have bad A/C in the middle of summer with a pregnant woman!

Nonetheless, the one thing that bothered me the most is that everyone or almost everyone has C-sections. I think I was the only one who wanted to give birth naturally and there were women who were trying to talk me out of it. Saying it is so much easier with a c-section, this and that. To top it off, I have read articles that the majority of births in Italy are c-sections and doctors push for it so they can earn more money, and especially in the Campania Region where I am... shady right? Another thing that is corrupt with Italia...

So there was good and bad at the hospital I stayed at. Like I stated at the beginning, this was a private clinic, so I have no idea how bad the public hospitals are. Eeek... Of course in any where in the world, you will get the good and bad. The most important thing is that Antonio was born healthy and well.