I have been carrying our little girl for 30 weeks now and it’s been quite a ride! Receiving medical care here has been a blessing as under the social system we receive it free of charge (“free”). However, it has also had its host of challenges. The language barrier is an obvious inconvenience and limits our independence to make educated choices about our care. I have relied heavily on a great friend from our team here who has called to set appointments for me, translated at doctor’s visits, and researched online with me to find answers to questions. Being dependent on others in order to accomplish things so important and personal is not my favorite thing and it has often meant the stress overshadows the joys of various events. However, the more I have learned the language along the way and become familiar with the system, the easier it has become.

I still have lots of unanswered questions and have moments when I am terrified about the idea of delivering a baby here. There are always the “what if’s” that gnaw at me from time to time. Yes I know, “Women in Africa do it all the time in much worse conditions!” and “Women have been doing it for centuries without knowing half of what we do now and they were fine”. These things are true, but not very helpful to this woman who has stepped so far out of her comfort zone, is feeling vulnerable and yet has a fierce sense of responsibility to care for this child in the best way possible. So, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little protective and concerned. And I have to forgive myself when I think I should handle it better by remembering it is a big deal and my most intimate feelings are important to God. He sees and values each hidden thought and emotion just as He sees my daughter now and tenderly knits her together.

One major decision we have had to make is where to deliver our little bambina. Most people in our town wouldn’t think of going anywhere but the closest hospital. I was hesitant for a few reasons. When my sister was born, there were major complications and she required intensive care, so excellent medical care was my top priority. After looking at all the options in our region, we chose a hospital specializing in Obstetrics, Pediatrics and Gynecology (not the town hospital). It was our top choice because it has a high reputation here for being the most advanced in medical care for moms and newborns. Secondly, it is located in a bigger city, Torino, so we are optimistic that will mean we will be more likely to have English speaking staff available during the delivery. Otherwise I have to provide my own translator who I can only have with me if Jon is not as they only allow you to have one person in the room supporting you. Our Italian has improved a lot but under such stressful conditions as a birth it would be nice not to have to worry language comprehension too! Another interesting fact is that this hospital is the only one in the entire region that offers the option to have an epidural for a normal birth. I haven’t decided whether I will exercise that option, but I like that it’s there! The main downside in choosing this hospital is that it is about an hour from our home, so we are praying she gives us enough warning to get there in time!

Ok, enough of the nitty gritty.Yesterday we had our third ultrasound and there is a lot of good news to share about that! 

We had to schedule a private appointment in order to have it done at the hospital where we plan to deliver (described above). I hadn’t seen the hospital yet because they don’t allow you to even tour it until you choose to deliver there and come to take their birthing classes during the last couple months of your pregnancy, or until you pay for a private appointment. So since we were there for the appointment we were able to see the place for the first time and even had a chance to walk through some of the areas where new moms and their tiny babies were recovering from birth. It didn’t have the modernized, catered feel of an American hospital, but it was clean and seemed pleasant. The biggest difference I’ve had to adjust to is the fact that women here don’t have private rooms. They share with 1-3 other moms and their babies. It was good to actually see it for myself and I’m sure it will be fine (though it’s taken me some time to feel that way)!

The best part of the visit and one of the best parts of this entire pregnancy was when we actually got to see our little girl during the ultrasound! She sure has grown since we saw her 10 weeks ago! The doctor checked all her measurements and said everything looks great! She is a little bigger than the average Italian baby at this age, but not too much! She is weighing in at 3.75 lbs. The doctor was also able to confidently confirm that she is indeed a little girl! We are glad for that since she has lots of girly things! 🙂

Of course that was all wonderful to hear, but there were some really fun moments of just watching her and being enamored by the littlest things she did. One of our favorites was when we saw her face and she seemed to purse her lips as if blowing us a kiss. Then we got a look at her profile and she had her hands folded together as if she was praying. So sweet! Soon after that she took her hands and put them to her face and we saw her little lips moving; she was sucking on her thumb (or fingers)! A little later as I kept staring at the screen, she turned to face the camera as if to say hi and show off her pretty features. Here are some pictures so you can see for yourself!

Isn’t she adorable? It’s hard to believe she will likely be in my arms in two months! Then we’ll be able to post pictures in full color…when we’re not too busy cuddling her (feeding her, changing her, or trying to get naps)!

One Proud Mama-to-Be, 
Erika
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