Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Schlemiel Sch-Lamaze-l

Today I went to Ospedale Fate Bene Fratelli to visit a friend in labor. I told the guard that I was the sister when he told me visiting hours were over. He let me through. Unfortunately, my friend was being monitored, i.e. was strapped to a table watching her contractions dance by on a screen, a tickertape memento cascading to the floor like a slinky. Il tracciato as it is called was happening in the delivery room, so I was not allowed in to see her. I left some snacks, a New Yorker magazine, and a note by her bed.

Her bed was one of six or eight – I was too overwhelmed by the number to take an official count – in the room. Every bed seemed to be occupied by a whalesomely (yes, that’s whalesomely, not wholesomely, Mr. Spellcheck) pregnant woman or a brand new mom. Every giant belly or drowsy breastfeeder was surrounded by one to twelve family members. Husbands, grandfathers, brothers, uncles came in and out, never allowed to stay for long since someone else’s wife, daughter, sister, niece always had to whip out a boob or try on a nightgown. I do not understand why they don’t have those convenient curtains around each bed. The female relatives are there to do what the nurses are supposed to do, and if I weren’t so North American (and my poor friend, still in labor as I type, so English) this giant family affair cum public display of nuova maternità would be fantastic, lovely, so old world and bosomy. Add to this festa atmosphere the orderly who was singing Neapolitan songs at the top of her lungs while wheeling trays of food to the patients, and we have ourselves a veritable Dancing Under Vesuvius Maternity Party Ward.

If during my labor I had had to stay in a room with fifty million other women, Neapolitan women (sic), I don’t think I could have hacked it. My labor was thankfully very short, very fast, however, so perhaps it wouldn’t have been too rough. For my laboring friend, however, I think it has been quite hard.

One thing I noticed about the hospital is how clean it was. And it didn’t reek of hospital, of sickness and cleaning products, like an American hospital does. The clinic where I gave birth was also stench-free. How do they do that?

Last I heard my friend was at seven centimeters. In bocca al lupo!!!!

And before I forget, in addition to still trying to turn lefties into righties, it appears that Neapolitan doctors advise moms of children with outies bellybuttons to tape them down so that they might become innies. This happened to my friend C. She did not return to that guy. Also, no bathing (tub or sea) for at least two hours after a meal. Do not get me started on that one, I’ll just get upset. I mean, I just want to dunk La Bimba in some nice warm water after a meal. It would be so much easier to keep her less sticky. Alas, such are the compromises one makes in a multicultural marriage. At least The Husband lets me feed La Bimba avocado, even if he does ask repeatedly, “Che roba è?”


Ambra Celeste said...

Oh. I can't even imagine giving birth in an Italian hospital. I have been traumatised enough simply by going to the dentist here. Your friend is Brave! By the way, Buona festa delle donne!

Delina said...

I’m not sure I should have read this… About 5 yrs ago I went to visit my friend in a ward in a hospital here, I can’t remember the name, Internazionale maybe. Anyway, she was in a ward with 6 other women at various stages of labour. I came out of there so shocked! And just as I thought I was nearly over it, it all comes back.. :=

I’m surprised and glad to hear your friend is having (had?) a natural birth. I’ve only had friends who’ve had c-sections here.

I’ve had 2 friends here go to hotel like hospitals where they have their own room like a hotel, and pay of course a fortune. I don’t agree with that set up though.

Good to here about the cleanliness.

I hope your friend is doing well