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La Famiglia Pombo
By Connie K. Pombo
'Honey, it's time!' I gasped.
'Time for what?' my husband responded.
I pointed to the marble floor and the puddle of 'water' that I was wading in. Mark—my hubby of five years—glanced down at the vast 'ocean' that lay between my feet and asked, 'Did you do that on purpose?'
There's something about pregnancy that will always remain foreign to men. They just can't relate to the cravings, mood swings, ever-expanding tummy, strange sensations, and the emotions that accompany being a first-time mom—especially when that first time happens to be in a foreign country like Italy!
We had just moved to the land of 'la dolce vita' to teach English as a second language when we were surprised—shocked really—to find out that I was three months incinta (pregnant)!
'Call the doctor and the clinic,' I responded calmly.
Mark rushed to the phone and punched in the numbers for La Villa Sant'Andrea Clinica where I would deliver our firstborn. And then he called the doctor, who I had only seen twice during my entire pregnancy—once to confirm I was actually pregnant and the second time just two days before my water broke.
While Mark scurried around our tiny apartment to gather up items to load in the car, I took a leisurely shower. I was four days past my due date and distracted myself by trying to look presentable for my new arrival. After my shower, I put on an extra coat of 'Pretty in Pink' nail polish—hoping that would somehow guarantee me a baby girl.
As I waddled into the bedroom to grab my bag of 'labor equipment,' I bent over one last time—holding my tummy—and thought, This is it; there's no turning back now!
Mark helped me down three flights of stairs and into our Fiat 127, along with a pillow to sit on for the bumpy ride along crooked back roads to the clinic.
'Are you okay?' Mark asked, as he adjusted my pillow.
'Oh, I'm just fine! You know this is all your fault, don't you?' I snapped back. Mark ignored my outburst and continued to drive faster.
While I hissed, panted, and breathed slowly, Mark threaded in and out of traffic trying to race through every red light. I handed him my white pillowcase to hang out the window—the Italian signal that there was an emergency.
When we arrived at the clinic, Mark rang the intercom.
'Pronto, chi parla? (Who's there?)' the nurse asked.
'La famiglia Pombo sta qui (The Pombo family is here),' my husband responded.
That had a 'foreign' sound to it. A family? I never quite thought of us that way until now. Soon there would be three of us, and our status as a couple would change forever.
The nurse greeted us warmly and helped me into the exam room where the intern waited impatiently. He examined me and announced, 'Just one centimeter!'
The doctor explained—partly in English and mostly in Italian—that I would deliver sometime the following evening.
Mark patted me gently on the back as I leaned hard into his chest. 'I don't think I can do this,' I whimpered.
'Oh sure you can . . . just nine more centimeters to go,' he added cheerfully.
That's when I realized labor was really foreign to men.
The nurse helped me off the exam table as I waddled to the chair to put on my labor gown. In Italy, you bring your own things to the hospital, so I packed a pink one and a blue one.
I chose pink!
'Avanti, Signora Pombo (Come along, Mrs. Pombo),' said the nurse.
There weren't any labor rooms available, so I was placed in the delivery room. In my labor bag, I had packed some earplugs just in case. I heard rumors that labor could get noisy. Strangely enough, no matter what country you are in, the birth process is the same—there is always a lot of screaming.
Although we had attended two classes of Lamaze training, this was not what I had signed up for: no labor room, no privacy, and two Italian women in labor shouting, 'Aiutami! (Help me!)'
Mark reminded me of the importance of rest because I had a long twenty-four hours ahead of me. He rolled me over onto my left side, slumped down in the chair beside me, and gently rubbed my back.
At 3:01 am—just three hours after we arrived at the clinic—I awoke with a strange, inexplicable urge to push, like a hiccup that had gone bad. Mark was snoring peacefully until I shook him awake.
'Mark, it's time. Get the doctor now . . . I'm going to have a baby!' I screamed.
'I know, honey, that's why we're here. Now go back to sleep,' he whispered.
'No, I mean now!' I shouted.
There was no amount of heeing and hawing that was going to stop this baby; no amount of panting or chanting that was going to reverse this process.
The nurse came in to examine me and said, 'Buono! (Good!)'
Mark translated it for me, 'You can push now, sweetheart!'
There was no holding back—from Italy with love—I was going to be a mamma, and that's all there was to it. But it wasn't supposed to be this way; I wanted to have a labor—not a delivery. I didn't even get to use my well-practiced breathing techniques, and now I was pushing. The nurses wheeled me into an adjacent delivery room, just in time for the doctor to deliver an eight-pound four-ounce bambino.
'Tanti auguri, Mamma! (Congratulations, Mom!),' the nurses chimed in unison.
I watched as my red-faced bundle of joy received his first bath while tears made a path down my cheeks. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind for a first birth experience, but somehow it was just perfect.
In Italy, having a boy is considered good luck—especially for your first birth. And I had heard stories that some Italian husbands promised their wives diamond rings if they could bear them a son.
'Honey, where's my diamond ring?' I whispered.
Mark laid Geremia in my arms and said, 'Here's your diamond, Mrs. Pombo!' It was a moment of wonder, ecstasy, and delight. I was finally a mom.
Geremia Cristofero Pombo was born on June 30, 1981, in the same town in which my husband's grandparents were born. I bore a son on foreign ground and lived to tell about it!
There's nothing quite like being a first-time mom, whether it's in a foreign country or in your own backyard. What seems foreign at first becomes natural with time. It all begins with the word Mamma.
Mom, You're Not Going to Write About This, Are You?
By Mimi Greenwood Knight
My daughter recently went to her first dance. Her anxiety over the evening wasn't that of a normal fifteen-year-old girl: What should I wear? Will my parents embarrass me when he picks me up? Will he try to kiss me good night? No, the first words out of Haley's mouth after the young man called were, 'Mom, you're not going to write about this, are you?' Such is your plight when you're the offspring of a writer, especially when your mom's favorite topic to write about is—YOU.
While some kids might cringe to overhear their mother tell a neighbor about their latest social faux pas, my kids have to worry that their exploits will be broadcast to the world at large. To hear them tell it, every embarrassing thing that they've ever done or said has been publicized in magazines, anthologies, and on the Internet.
Okay, I'll admit it's partially true. Over the years, Molly wet her pants, Hewson mooned a church congregation, Haley picked her nose through her dance recital, and Jonah stood behind a fat man and hollered, 'Don't worry, Mom. I'm not going to ask you why he's so fat until we get in the car,' all later chronicled for a national audience.
I try to remind them that the money I earn 'narcing' on them allows me to stay at home and still be able to have some of the extras in life. They are not assuaged. The long lead time on most stories only makes matters worse. I might sell an essay today only to have it sit in a magazine's inventory for years before it actually makes it onto the page. That means the essay I wrote about Hewson playing an entire baseball game with his 'cup' upside down when he was eight didn't make it into print until he was an eleven-year-old superjock.
The story about Molly's preschool streaking phase was published when she was seven. Haley's public inquiry about her grandmother's enema bag hit the magazine racks when she was in middle school (like middle school isn't excruciating enough), while Jonah's cat versus duct tape escapade is sitting in an inventory right now like a ticking time bomb just waiting to devastate him one day.
In my own defense though, sometimes the little boogers are just begging to be tattled on. Like the time we had to grease Hewson's head to get the training potty seat off. I'm going to keep that to myself? Or like the time Jonah swiped the surgical gloves in the pediatrician's exam room and then stashed them in his underpants so she wouldn't know he'd taken them, not realizing that she was going to check the goods during the exam and those rubber gloves would pop out of his little drawers like a jack-in-the-box. Now how do you not write about that?
How about the time when Molly mused out of the blue at age three, 'Maybe the dish ran away with the spoon because they were under where the cow was going to land,' or when Jonah offered matter-of-factly to our neighbor, 'Well, hey, Miss Karen. You're getting old. Huh?' or any one of their self-induced haircuts, spatial experiments involving the neighbors' cat, or creative outdoor potty adventures?
How much self-control would it have taken to not write about this conversation I overheard when passing my boys' room one day?
Little brother (hollering): 'Mom, I need some panties.'
Big brother: 'Man, you wear panties? Girls wear panties.'
Little brother: 'Well, what do you wear?'
Big brother: 'Dude, I wear undies.'
The other day, I was driving down the road with my four-year-old when he blurted out something absolutely hysterical. I laughed until I cried. When I finally caught my breath, he said, 'Well, Mom?'
'Aren't you going to write that down?'
Am I that bad? You hear about the preacher's kids or children of politicians who feel like they're living in a fishbowl with their every move being scrutinized. I wonder how they'd feel if their foibles were exaggerated and embellished for optimum laugh potential as well.
Still, I tell my kids it could be worse. Farah Fawcett's son had to live with a mom who posed nude for Playboy at age fifty. The worst I ever did was write a story about them eating poop. Besides, as Anne LaMott so aptly puts it, 'If they didn't want you to write about them, maybe they should have behaved themselves in the first place.'
Celebrate the joys, triumphs, sorrows, and the wisdom gleaned—all of the ups and downs of
the amazing adventure called Motherhood.
Whether you become a mom through adoption, by giving birth, or through marriage, your heart is never completely your own again . . . and that is one of the miracles of being a mom.
Just as no two women are the same, the experience of being a mom is different for each of us. In The Ultimate Mom, you'll follow the journeys of mothers through a diverse collection of stories about this rewarding and challenging job. While some stories are humorous, some are inspirational, and others are poignant, all are filled with the passion, devotion, and dedication every mother feels toward her child.
Words may paint a picture, but photos tell their own story, too. The Ultimate Mom is filled with eye-catching photos of moms and their children celebrating life's events, both big and small. You'll also find expert advice from moms in the trenches about finding 'me' time, dealing with sibling rivalry, parenting a spirited child, achieving a healthy life balance, and many more timely and provocative subjects.
Join in the celebration of mothers with The Ultimate Mom.
Maria Bailey is an award-winning author, radio talk show host, and nationally known speaker. She is the founder of bluesuitmom.com, the award-winning website for executive working mothers, and cofounder of newbaby.com, the largest resource of online video for moms. She is the host of The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV, the host of Mom Talk Radio, the first nationally syndicated radio show for moms, and radio cohost of Good Day with Doug Stephan.
©2009. Connie K. Pombo, Mimi Greenwood Knight. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Ultimate Mom by Maria Bailey. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.