The idea was to spend a few days in the peace and quiet of Villa Margherita before coming home to the most excited set of Big Sisters ever. And it worked out, sort of. When he left after the delivery, my OB said to me, “make sure they do everything you ask them to. This is a five-star place.” I had to laugh because he knew how tired I was, and how much I was looking forward to catching up on some rest before heading home. New lotions, books and videos were packed. iPhone charged, camera ready. Best of all, my bedside table was stocked with water, raisins and the all important chocolate bar, carefully (and gratefully) rationed over four days.
But we were still in Italy. Everything is dramatic. Nothing is strategic. And they all speak Italian.
This meant a parade of nurses, doctors, cleaners, and more nurses striding purposefully in and out of our lovely little room, all day long. Knock, knock. Time to take your blood pressure. “Signora?” Time to take your temperature. Knock, knock. We need to stamp his footprints now. Knock, knock. The baby’s hearing needs to be checked. “Signora?”
In and out.
With all the hustle and bustle though, it was lovely to have a full Italian meal prepared–and delivered on a silver tray–three times a day, like clockwork. I even got to choose each course ahead of time, reminding me of my former corporate life when I’d order fancy room service in even fancier hotels. Along the same lines, teams of two came to clean the room, change the linens and give baby George a bath in the nursery. Each time he left though, I’d be confused about where he could be for so long. I’d shower, change into fresh jammies (when getting “dressed” in the morning means putting on a fresh nightgown, you know you’re seriously in rest mode!), rub on my lotions, throw my hair in ponytail and be ready to read one of the four books I brought before I’d realize that something had been missing, for quite some time. Buzzing the nurse, I’d ask to bring in the bimbo. Yes, subito, signora. But they insisted on cleaning the floor before he came back. And this wasn’t a task that could be done immediately. Eventually, with a giant Swiffer thing that was somehow too dirty for him to witness, they’d clean the floor twice: once dry, once wet. Then finally, the little guy would make his way back in.
On the first day, there was a big question about a blood test. The requests started a couple of hours after birth, and unfortunately, after Dr. Grimaldi left. Did I have the paperwork for this particular test? Where was it? Could I get it? Could Paul go home and get it? It should be noted however, that I had no idea what blood test they were talking about. My Italian is only so-so but my medical Italian is about as good as my car Italian. Non bene. Two days later, they took some blood to do their own test. I’m sure I’ll never see the results but do hope all works according to plan.
George and I sunned ourselves on the terrace for a few minutes at a time, we read (I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp), we watched movies (The Iron Lady, Food, Inc., Happy) and practiced our nursing routine together.
Paul brought Phoebe and Estelle in each afternoon. I knew Phoebe was excited to see her New Baby Brother, but was amazed at how careful Estelle was with him. Mostly. Eventually we made our way home, grateful for the sleep. Speaking of, I did take the nurses up on their offer and slept from 1am to 5 or 6am each night, while they watched him in the nursery. There they fed him bottles of sugar water and chamomile tea. Not ideal but definitely Italian. All part of the experience…