You know how you grow up imaging what life would be like and then you experience it… and it sometimes it’s the same.. and sometimes it’s different. I remember when I was young and I would think about what it would be like to have my own apartment and live by myself. Well, I never really experienced that. I went from my parents house, to my sister’s, to a house with 8 other girls, then another house with 5 other girls, to another house with 3, then back to my parents, then my own house that I owned with my brother and various roommates that lived with us and finally.. to my own apartment. I lived alone for a whole month (maybe less)… until I got married and Carlo moved in.
During that time as a single gal, I would imagine what life would be like when I got married. Luckily, it was exactly what I imagined and more! Then… what would like be like when I have a baby. My experience with my 6 nieces and nephews definitely prepared me for motherhood. I have been an aunt since I was 18 so, I’ve had lots of practice with crying, colic, diapers, feedings and etc….
So, with the birth of VJ, I felt ready for anything. In fact, while I was at the hospital, I had 2 different people tell me that I looked like I knew what I was doing. I felt so proud and was honored to hear that. At the hospital, the nurses at the nursery have the moms come in and show you how to bathe your baby and care for the umbilical cord. After the demonstration, they asked if anyone had questions and/or wanted to try and change the dressing on the cord. I said I was ok and everyone else was somewhat timid. So the nurse had everyone position themselves in front of their baby… she turns to me and said, “According to me, You look like you already know how to do this. You can go back to your room.” I walked out of there happy as can be! Then when I was getting discharged the Pediatrician went over some things with me as far as basic instructions and appointments that needed to be made. Once she was done, she also said that I looked quite confident and I seemed like someone who’s done this before. I told her that I had 6 nieces and nephews therefore, being around babies is nothing new to me.
Once I got home, I felt happy, and confident. Having my parents here to help was such a huge blessing.. and because of that, I was able to leave VJ with my parents while I had to go do her Doctor’s assignment. (In Italy, you have to go the CUP-“health services”- and request a doctor so that the government can pay them for your visits.) I had bought some formula just incase I didn’t get back in time to feed her, my mom could do it. I had VJ practice by drinking some of my expressed milk from the bottle. While I was at the CUP, all I could think about was my sweet baby at home drinking formula from a bottle. It was at that moment that I realized how much I LOVED breast feeding VJ. I wanted to cry because I wasn’t there to feed her, hold her, & look at her while she looked back at me.
From that point on, I decided that I would only bottle feed her when it was absolutely necessary. While imagining life as a mom, I never thought I would enjoy breast feeding so much. I love being able to stroke her hair while she looks at me. I love the way she looks at me as if she’s asking for permission to eat. I love the way she opens her hand… waiting for my finger and then holds onto it…. not wanting to let go. I love how she falls asleep and has milk dripping from her mouth because she is smiling. I love how she knows when she’s going to eat. Her eyes light up and she “charges” in ready to eat. I love how she cries when she changes to the other side. She cries as if I won’t give her anymore to eat.
It is because of all of those things that I am proud to be a mom.. and I am happy to live in a country where I am expected to feed my baby wherever I may be. Whether it’s at McDonald’s, in a Piazza, the metro stop, or even at church, I don’t have to feel out of place for doing what is natural and beautiful. I love that I am bonding with her and she knows that. I know she knows who I am. She smiles at me and that smile tells me that she loves me.
If I have to give her a bottle she’ll take it but… we both know….. she’d rather have mine.