breastfeeding, Life in Italy, motherhood, Parenting, sleep issues

Language Barriers

February 1, 2013

So I have this incredibly weird relationship with breastfeeding. (Pulitzer prize material, that opening line.) On the one hand, I’m so thankful I can feed my babies this way, and completely in awe of the way my body works.

On the other hand, I’m sick of being 10 lbs overweight, waking up at all hours of the night, and being on call 24/7 for an almost-20-lb ‘newborn’ who can’t seem to self soothe because, wait for it…he has never had to. Idiots, we are.

“I own you, Mother.”

Yesterday, after a lengthy facebook chat with my best friend, and the 23rd consecutive night of broken sleep in Italy, I made the heart-wrenching (Really? wtf is wrong with me, seriously?) decision to (gasp) buy formula and (shudder) put it into a freaking bottle and let Daddy go on night duty.

It should be noted, I actually have a rocking breastpump, a perfectly willing husband who has offered multiple times to take over night feedings, and an apparent complete inability to relinquish control of this area of child-rearing, but for whatever reason, last night was the night to pull the trigger.

I think it maybe had a little something to do with the 9.6% ABV of the Scotch Pub Ale I consumed with dinner at our (our) very own little Irish pub downstairs from our apartment. I swoon. But I also digress.

Fortified by strong drink and terrible, terrible salad topped with fennel, raw salmon, and radicchio, I made my way down the block to a nearby Farmacia (highly confusing to this Colorado girl, as they are marked by neon-lit green crosses, which mean something a bit different in my mind) where I stared stupidly up at a shelf of overpriced baby goodies for something like 15 minutes.

As I scanned the shelves, looking for something that looked like formula, the internal debate raged:

Am I a terrible mother? Is this admitting defeat? Will this actually help me sleep at night? Will I get pregnant in 11 minutes when my cycle comes back after feeding JP one bottle? Are the store workers talking about me right now?

I finally settled on a can of what looked to be promising powder, and read it while walking home, trying in vain to decipher the Italian.

Dave, whose schooling has continued and who is much more fluent already than I can ever hope to be, was equally puzzled by the stuff, but I consulted my memory banks from years of babysitting adventures and scooped 4 tbs into a bottle of sterile water (actually, flat mineral water, which probably tasted absolutely delicious.)

I went to bed after nursing the little beast last night, filled with a mixture of hope and guilt, and much to my delighted surprise, he woke only once last night. ONCE. And he drank some of the bottle Dave offered him, only to demand a top-up from yours truly around 2 am. But still….going from 3 or more wakings to one was a dream come true.

I faced this morning with a strong cup of espresso and a new gleam in my eye, and I examined the bottle from the night before, noticing something rather odd, something that seemed quite out of character for formula to do.

Breakfast of champions.

The bottle had completely settled out in solution, so that it looked like on of those Jello desserts from the early 90s, with 3 different layers of something special, each a different shade of taupe.

Um, ew.

Being the fantastic mother that I am, I bravely lifted the bottle to my lips to sample what my youngest wolf had been feasting on in the night.

Powdered biscotti is the answer. I shit you not.

I don’t know, it felt right at the time of purchase.

I gagged on a mouthful of chalky, biscuit-y mineral water, feeling a mixture of disgust and relief. I mean, technically, I hadn’t given him formula after all…he had sucked down a bottle of gruel last night, and he slept! Hallelujah.

Still, after tasting that stuff, I think I have a better idea of why the Italian birthrate is so low.


  • Reply Meghan Mella February 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

    This is not one to read while in the office. I am trying SO hard to suppress my laughter right now. mmmm powdered biscotti..

  • Reply Colleen February 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Oh my gosh! But hey, if it worked, keep doing it 🙂

  • Reply Beth (A Mom's Life) February 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I seriously just spit coffee out of my mouth from laughing so hard.

    And don’t be so hard on yourself – breastfeeding is a pain in the a$$!

    So is powdered biscotti something the Italians regularly feed their babies?

  • Reply Kate February 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I really needed a laugh today. Thank you. You were robbed in the Sheenazing Awards — robbed, I tell you!

  • Reply Lizzie February 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Bahaha! Umm, I was going to point that out,as it does say biscotti on the container. Yes? I don’t speak Italian, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it says. I am dying! Haha

  • Reply Andrea Kenny February 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm


    I laughed so hard my pumpkin bread came out of my nose!

    You are a great mommy, biscotti or no biscotti! 🙂

    Andrea Kenny

  • Reply Christy from fountains of home February 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Wow. That is the most bizarre yet funny thing I’ve seen in a long time. I bet he actually loved it!

    I have the same love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. I hate being on a time tether to a child, never sleep at all, but have to be on death’s door to actually stop. Damn mom guilt…

  • Reply Holly February 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    hahahahahahaha!!!!! at least you didn’t accidentally feed him powdered coffee or something! love it! (JP- give your momma a BREAK!)

  • Reply Mary February 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    hahahaha! I cracked up when I zoomed in on the container and read the Italian. Sounds like your baby needs some cereal or (perhaps) a biscotti before bed! LOL. Might as well start him on cornetti and you’ll save yourself a step. I am still laughing.

  • Reply KMantoan February 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I think when you’re in the throes of nursing, even knowingly giving your child powdered biscotti is acceptable. Some times, mama needs to sleep.
    I’m just happy it didn’t turn out to be instant coffee granuals

  • Reply Kathleen February 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    That is awesome! We accidentally gave one of our kids a 3 day old bottle of formula… There was some confusion and sleep depravation involved and no one died.

  • Reply Susan Husband February 2, 2013 at 4:29 am

    I am in a hotel room with two of my 5 sons who are trying in vain to sleep despite my fits of laughter. I feel for ya – the whole nursing thing – it’s always such a saga in my life. Your little tike is so blessed to have you for a mommy, biscotti or not! I am a new follower – found you from A Knotted Life. Looking forward to keeping up with you! – Susan

  • Reply While PJ Sleeps February 3, 2013 at 5:16 am

    This makes me miss you all the more!

  • Reply fabricsandfun March 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I just found your blog and have left my screaming 7 month old to his own devices (he sounds like he understands sleep as much as your little one) so that I can read archives. As I was reading this I thought to myself “Nooooooo not powdered biscotti!!!!” It is true, the hubby and I spend our time in Italy when we can and we are fluent in Italian courtesy of a half million dollars in education at Notre Dame :). I don’t know what it would be like not knowing the language but my guess is comical!

  • Reply Anne @WhateverWorksMom March 11, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I just found your blog recently and this post has tears STREAMING down my face.

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