Archives for the month of: February, 2015

Trying to catch up on some posting – stay tunes for my 20-week update and bump pics tomorrow!

I’ve always been really close to Memo (Mee-mo), my maternal grandmother. We spent tons of time at her house growing up. We would walk around the pond or play dress-up in her walk-in closet where there were real mink scarves and costume jewelry. She made the best pasta with cream of celery soup, meatloaf, and German chocolate cake. She used to have my sisters and I laughing so hard on Saturday mornings we’d almost pee in our pants (we probably did a few times!). Every Halloween she would turn on scary music and dress up as a witch. When we arrived at her door we’d have to follow paper footprints through the darkhall to the living room where she would jump out at us. Memo loves board games, and we spent many hours playing Chinese checkers, Monopoly and pick up sticks. She also taught me how to sew and gave me all of the knitting needles handed down from my great grandparents.

The weekend before my other grandmother passed away, my mom, sisters, brothers-in-law and niece and nephew spent a long weekend in Florida to celebrates Memo’s birthday. We rented a big house with a heated pool down the street from Memo’s condo. Waking up to Giuliana and Gabriel cuddling and playing in the living room was amazing. We went running, cooked meals, swam and played Monopoly. Memo brought over her scotch and made Manhattans, her favorite cocktail (none for me). She is still healthy, vibrant and funny. 

Memo and me:



Gabriel being adorable in a bib I gave him:

Reunited at last!



Memo’s birthday present – pics of her with Giuliana and Gabriel, and a space waiting for her to meet Glitter! My sister is so thoughtful. 



My mom, sisters, Giuliana and me at Siesta Keys beach – white sand!



At 15 months, this little girl has come out of her shell and is so full of joy!



Happy birthday to an incredible grandmother! Thanks for bringing us all together. 

In December, my Italian grandmother (I had two living grandmothers at the time) fell prey to lymphoma for the third time. Due to her age of 93 years, the cancer could not be treated, and a tumor in her leg quickly snaked its way through the lower part of her body. My Nonna lived through a lot – she was born in Connecticut, but her father died when she was a baby and her mother couldn’t afford to raise her. She was sent on a ship back to Italy, where she was raised by her aunts in the house J and I visited this past fall, the house my father is now fixing up.

Nonna had a difficult childhood, but when she returned to America at age 19, she was devoted to her husband and then four children. Throughout my childhood, she lived in a nice house, enjoyed her jobs and her daily life, and was close with my aunts and uncles. Being a devout Catholic who attended mass almost every day, she disapproved of my parents refusing to baptise us and raising us agnostic. My aunts and uncles and cousins were still practicing or at least semi-practicing, and my adult cousins still today attend mass on their own. When I started bringing women I was dating in college home for family functions, it deepened a gap I felt between my Nonna and me. I understand that being raised in Italy and in a different generation, being open to homosexuality does not come easily. I also felt the rejection and judgement of her beliefs and therefore have always been closer to my maternal grandparents.

Nonna was still my grandmother, and such an important part of my upbringing. I spent every Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving with her for twenty-five years. She means a lot to my father. She’s also my link to my heritage that I hold so dear. I wish she could have seen that I was caring and intelligent, and that my devotion to our family’s Italian heritage was so strong. She did love me though, as she loved all of us grandchildren. From her I have learned hard work, family values, and loyalty.

After being diagnosed with the relapse of cancer in December, then finding out there was no treatment, Nonna clearly decided she did not want to live in such pain and emotional stress. She stayed in her home since then, surrounded by daily visitors of friends and family. Eventually hospice began staying with her as well, and in the final days she was in a hospital bed in her own bedroom, going in and out of consciousness, in severe pain despite the morphine. She even had a few moments – clairvoyance? intuition? hallucinations? – in which she saw some previously passed family members visiting her outside her window, standing in the snow. She died on Wednesday morning, February 11th, surrounded by my little sister, Giuliana, her fifteen-month-old, my father, my cousin, a hospice nurse and a social worker. She was surrounded by four generations of love and support. I hope that she found comfort in her passing, and that she died in peace and reflection more than in agony.

I returned from my other grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in Florida the night before Nonna passed away. My father called me while I was on the LA freeway on my way to work. I called J immediately, who worked hard to get us tickets to fly back across the country to attend the funeral.

Last Friday J and I landed at JFK and took a limo service to southern Connecticut, where I changed into black maternity pants and a black cardigan in the backseat while J dozed. The limo took us directly to the calling hours at the same one that housed my Nonno’s funeral thirty years ago, one of my first memories. When we arrived my three sets of aunts and uncles, my six cousins and their spouses, my father, my sisters and many friends and family were already gathered. Nonna was sleeping in a beautiful casket flanked by arrangements of pink roses, and framed family pictures brought in by my family, of Nonna and Nonno in happy early marriage days, of my father and his siblings as children, and of the extended family portrait we took in my backyard in the early 90s, in which my sisters and I wore pink and blue flowered dresses. My little cousins, so young in the pictures, now tower over me as teenage and twenty-something young men. Giuliana and Caroline, my cousin’s toddler, ran around the funeral home’s lounge, surrounded by wooden toys and healthy snacks provided by their moms. Despite the incredibly sad situation, it brought my family together, nobody missing, and I felt surrounded by the sounds of the babies, my cousins catching up with each other, family expressing their love for Nonna; tears of grief but the warmth of family.

After four hours at the wake we made our way to an Italian restaurant in Old Greenwich, where everyone (except for me of course) quickly ordered cocktails and wine and devoured plates of antipasto, homemade pasta, osso bucco and fish. It was exhausting but cathartic. On Saturday morning we arrived back at the funeral home and were in a formal procession. My four male cousins helped carry the casket to the herse and we had a formal police escort to the Catholic church my grandmother attended for many many years. I was amused by the fact that we got to run through red lights and that the procession entered the freeway with the police cars speeding by us, protecting our string of cars us with their lights. The service included readings by my cousins and one by my sisters and me. A woman sang the Ave Maria. My father gave the eulogy, with his brother and sisters by his side, which I’ve included below with his permission. My male cousins carried the casket back out. My two girl cousins who were very close to Nonna cried so hard that my heart hurt for them. No one in my family has died since I was four, so all of this was new to me.

We had a luncheon at a snowy golf course after the funeral. Being surrounded by by cousins, J, my cousins’ husbands, and the two babies was a treat. We only all see each other every couple of years when everyone happens to come home for Christmas at the same time. J and I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house, as the house I grew up in, in which my father still lives, is in Northern Connecticut. This gave me extra time I haven’t had with my aunt and uncle in years. We hung out by their fire and chatted and in the morning they made us breakfast and we sat around the table.

I am sorry that my grandmother had to pass so quickly. She was so healthy and vibrant, I thought she would be around for years to come. I know she’s in a better place, hopefully reunited with her beloved husband whom she had to live without for the past thirty years. She still wore her wedding ring.

Nonna and me at my cousin's wedding in 2011

Nonna and me at my cousin’s wedding in 2011

Sylvia – Eulogy

January 19, 1922 – February 11, 2015

Our mother’s life was built around love, devotion, family, and the work of caring for others. She was devoted to her grandmother Emilia and her aunt Irene who raised her, to our father Joseph Forzani, to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom she adored and for whom she would have done anything. She was devoted to her friends here and in Italy, to God and to her church. She never asked for anything back, other than to know you were OK.

Our Mom was no stranger to loss and suffering. When she was 9 months old, her father died, and when she was 5 she was sent to Italy to live with relatives. She grew up as a young girl missing her mother and brothers, and learning the lesson of love and discipline from a new family. Educated in Torino, she then taught elementary school riding a bicycle between her home in the town of Masserano and her teaching assignments in surrounding towns scattered in the foothills of the Italian Alps. She did this at a time when the Italian and German Armies were fighting village to village against each other, the Allies were pushing north into Lombardy and Piedmont, the partisans were everywhere, reprisals were brutal, and civil war blanketed Northern Italy. Food was scarce, and Mom was lucky to eat hot water, bread, and a pat of butter from a local cow for dinner. The stories from this time are riveting, and they were formative for our Mom.

She came back to America in 1946 to marry our father. Money in our family was scarce, but love and passion were everywhere. They used savings from our Dad to build a home in the woods of Stamford, had us four children, and proceeded to teach us all they knew, with every ounce of energy and commitment they had. They were passionate about us, our family, and about daily life. The sounds of conversation, of dinner cooking, talk of homework, of this and that issue, and more conversation, were everywhere. There were countless stories of our grandparents in Piemonte, of life in their village, of our extended family in Stamford, of friends, school, politics, and whatever was the topic of the day. We were wealthy with stories and wealthy with the devotion of our parents.

Through it all, our mom was a steady presence, radiating love and caring. She was a force of nature. Raised with loss, the need to prevail, and the deep joy of devoted relatives, our mom had the boundless sensitivity, and the boundless vulnerability to pain, to know the meaning and value of love. She also had the quiet strength to do what it takes on a daily basis, no matter what, to make her children’s lives better and easier. She was kind and never wanted to hurt or offend anyone, and was always smiling. She always picked herself up and fought her way out of a situation so she could go on with the work of caring for others. She defined the meaning of gravitas. At the same time, she could be, and often was through the years, the life of the party, the daily party that life could be. She built this on the foundation of delight in her children and grandchildren, delight in friends and the church, that never stopped. The work of caring, of making sure each person had what he and she needed, that each person was attended to, was constant.

There were Sunday dinners after mass and countless holiday and birthday dinners for children and grandchildren. There was the dinner party at her house that our Mom organized for her teaching colleagues that went on for years and years and became an institution, then became a breakfast in later years.

And then there was the daily work of earning a living, of being self-sufficient, and the work of frugality so resources were respected, materiality was never elevated, and resources were there when needed. After her children became independent, she substitute taught in the Stamford school system and started working at Lord & Taylor as a receptionist in the restaurant. She was devoted to both and became an institution in both places. She was the first they called in the morning when they needed a substitute. She cared about every detail of her job at Lord & Taylor, where she worked into her 92nd year. Her 92nd year! She was working there up until this past November. She also worked as a volunteer at the Stamford Hospital until this past November, at the St. Leo’s church fair, and attended mass almost every day. She cared for her home and yard, raking leaves and chestnuts from the tree our Dad planted up to this past fall. And almost every afternoon she made vegetable soup from scratch from the little patch of Swiss Chard and parsley underneath the kitchen window. And when you came over, she would always ask how you were, always be sure you had a coat on in the cold – even though you were in your sixties yourself! – always asked if you and your family were OK, always gave you soup, and always admonished you to drive home safely. Right up to last week.

The love, the devotion, the conversation, are vivid and immutable, because they were all real all given freely, with abandon, and all constant until last weekend. And in these last weeks, she taught us one more lesson: that of bravery and dignity. Knowing her illness, knowing there was no treatment, she talked to us children and grandchildren, talked to her friends, talked to God, accepted her fate without complaint, and died on her own terms. She taught us how to live. She was, is, and will be, an inspiration to all of us.

Today was a big day. When we arrived at the hospital we went to the specialty ultrasound and imaging department and checked in. They asked me if I had drank 35 oz of water – well no, because I hadn’t received the instructions. Oops. The receptionist brought me two styrofoam cups of water to down. The US nurse called me right away and said J would not be allowed back until the end and that it was standard procedure. Fine. J asked some questions about the US – being a lab designing architect, she doesn’t like any extra procedures and prefers all procedure times to be minimized. The nurse was respectful but explained that I’m order to get necessary measurements, the scan would take about 45 minutes.

In the room she put warm gel on my belly and showed me the baby right away. She did a ton of measurements and chatted to me the whole time. I don’t understand why J would have been disruptive but she did go and get J ASAP. We saw the baby’s heart beating away, her femur, a strong spine, her feet, hands, lips, chin, eyes, skull and most importantly, vagina and labia! Definitely a girl.

The nurse checked out my cervix and placenta and right now the position of the placenta is low. Later on in pregnancy this can lead to a c-section but both the nurse and my trusty mom say it’s still early and will rise. We are so grateful that Glitter is okay. I feel her move a lot now, although just small flutters.

The first one apparently shows that she’s a girl (three white lines). The third one is her face. My favorite is her cute little hand!

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To quote the movie Benny and Joon, “my life is really complicated right now.” There are a lot of things happening at once, wonderful, sad, scary, you name it. Tomorrow I will post about my recent trip to Florida, my grandmother’s somewhat unexpected death, and potentially, our new house. Glitter’s moms are busy getting life ready for her, but life in the fast lane has brought me a cold and I can barely find time to do this post! I promise a nice long post by Sunday. I miss all of you and have been following all of your news, even though I haven’t been commenting.

Have a wonderful weekend!

I think I explained that we call the baby Glitter because I joked to my sisters that since both of their babies’ names start with G, we would name the baby either Glitter for a girl or Gollum for a boy. It stuck! Little spark is called Glitter for now.

We waited several weeks for an ultrasound and it’s been nerve-wracking. After yesterday’s appointment t I know she’s okay, so here’s a big update:

The Baby

We woke her up with the ultrasound. At first she was curled into a fetal position (appropriate, right?) but she began to wriggle and the doctor could confirm that she’s definitely a girl! Our anatomy scan is February 20th and I can’t wait to see her for 40 minutes straight and hopefully know that she’s developing well.

I believe I’m feeling her move a tiny bit. It feels like little flutters or a fish swimming in my belly, but it’s not I joys enough to be sure.

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Symptoms

Wow where do I start? My body has been taken over by aliens. Well, one adorable little alien! Morning sickness was awful until a few days ago, but in the last few days I’ve been waking up feeling normal. It’s weird not to gag while I’m getting ready for work. I’m still nauseous before lunch and anytime I haven’t eaten in a couple of hours. My belly is the biggest change – it feels so big! It touches my keyboard at my office desk and it’s hard for me to put pants on. I know I officially look pregnant now so I don’t try to hide it at work. I can only wear regular pants with a belly band. I started to get acid reflux, but after one dose of Prilosec it went away. Constipation is a new experience for me – I’m usually really regular due to loving vegetables – so I drink Miralax every couple of days. Sometimes my stomach is so hard I can’t tell if it’s my bowels or my uterus!

I’m trying to keep stretch marks at bay through early intervention. I use Mother’s Formula body oil, a mixture of Cocoa Butter and Vitamins A and E, from Whole Foods twice a day. I also use Bamboobies BellyEase belly cream before I go to sleep. I have to admit though, the first time I saw tiny stretch marks – one on each breast – I was more excited than upset!

Speaking of breasts – they’re big. I’m busting out of all of my bras but waiting to buy new ones in case they keep growing. Now my bras all act like push-ups.

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Weight Gain

I’m not super comfortable with my weight due to having gained fifteen pounds in the past few years. I was able to lose some of it this fall and now trying to embrace the pregnancy weight. I’ve always told my friends to love their pregnant bodies and that they’re pregnant, not fat, but seeing numbers I’ve never seen on the scale is alarming. I’m wearing dresses and mostly maternity clothes already, along with some pants with a rubber band or my belly band. I’m up almost 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. When I told J this in a forlorn voice this morning, she got super excited and smiled ear to ear! Funny.

Exercise

I love working out. So far I’m maintaining my six-day-a-week workouts, but they’re very moderate. I do a 40-minute walk/jog a few times a week, a prenatal barre workout, 30-minute aerobic weight videos, and ride my bike to prenatal yoga on Saturdays. It feels weird to run with a belly but I’m finding a lot of energy on my jogs!

I started this post a week ago and already have lots of updates but no time. I’m currently in Florida on a long weekend trip to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I’m with my mom, sisters, brothers-in-law and – THE BABIES! Giuliana and Gabriel are amazing and once again I’ll need a whole post just dedicated to them! I’m enjoying being with my family and enjoying being pregnant. I can’t wait to feel Glitter move!

I think I explained that we call the baby Glitter because I joked to my sisters that since both of their babies’ names start with G, we would name the baby either Glitter for a girl or Gollum for a boy. It stuck! Little spark is called Glitter for now.

We waited several weeks for an ultrasound and it’s been nerve-wracking. After yesterday’s appointment t I know she’s okay, so here’s a big update:

The Baby

We woke her up with the ultrasound. At first she was curled into a fetal position (appropriate, right?) but she began to wriggle and the doctor could confirm that she’s definitely a girl! Our anatomy scan is February 20th and I can’t wait to see her for 40 minutes straight and hopefully know that she’s developing well.

I believe I’m feeling her move a tiny bit. It feels like little flutters or a fish swimming in my belly, but it’s not I joys enough to be sure.

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Symptoms

Wow where do I start? My body has been taken over by aliens. Well, one adorable little alien! Morning sickness was awful until a few days ago, but in the last few days I’ve been waking up feeling normal. It’s weird not to gag while I’m getting ready for work. I’m still nauseous before lunch and anytime I haven’t eaten in a couple of hours. My belly is the biggest change – it feels so big! It touches my keyboard at my office desk and it’s hard for me to put pants on. I know I officially look pregnant now so I don’t try to hide it at work. I can only wear regular pants with a belly band. I started to get acid reflux, but after one dose of Prilosec it went away. Constipation is a new experience for me – I’m usually really regular due to loving vegetables – so I drink Miralax every couple of days. Sometimes my stomach is so hard I can’t tell if it’s my bowels or my uterus!

I’m trying to keep stretch marks at bay through early intervention. I use Mother’s Formula body oil, a mixture of Cocoa Butter and Vitamins A and E, from Whole Foods twice a day. I also use Bamboobies BellyEase belly cream before I go to sleep. I have to admit though, the first time I saw tiny stretch marks – one on each breast – I was more excited than upset!

Speaking of breasts – they’re big. I’m busting out of all of my bras but waiting to buy new ones in case they keep growing. Now my bras all act like push-ups.

IMG_4827

Weight Gain

I’m not super comfortable with my weight due to having gained fifteen pounds in the past few years. I was able to lose some of it this fall and now trying to embrace the pregnancy weight. I’ve always told my friends to love their pregnant bodies and that they’re pregnant, not fat, but seeing numbers I’ve never seen on the scale is alarming. I’m wearing dresses and mostly maternity clothes already, along with some pants with a rubber band or my belly band. I’m up almost 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. When I told J this in a forlorn voice this morning, she got super excited and smiled ear to ear! Funny.

Exercise

I love working out. So far I’m maintaining my six-day-a-week workouts, but they’re very moderate. I do a 40-minute walk/jog a few times a week, a prenatal barre workout, 30-minute aerobic weight videos, and ride my bike to prenatal yoga on Saturdays. It feels weird to run with a belly but I’m finding a lot of energy on my jogs!

I started this post a week ago and already have lots of updates but no time. I’m currently in Florida on a long weekend trip to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I’m with my mom, sisters, brothers-in-law and – THE BABIES! Giuliana and Gabriel are amazing and once again I’ll need a whole post just dedicated to them! I’m enjoying being with my family and enjoying being pregnant. I can’t wait to feel Glitter move!

Oh, and more puking. Sorry.

I’ve been so crazy busy and neglecting the blog. Lately I don’t want to work, just next and get ready for the baby, but alas, work is taking over right now so I’m writing a poorly-written, not-well-thought-out post!

Last weekend we did get away to Sequoia National Park to hike and think about having our wedding there. It was gorgeous and seeing the snow, trees and mountains was refreshing.

My morning sickness got worse on this trip. I threw up on the way up the curvy road to the top of the mountain (“Quick, pull over quick!”) We stayed at Wuksachi Lodge, where you can have a nice restaurant meal and a hot bath and warm bed after a day of hiking, which I love! I used to backcountry hike and camp for two or three days at a time in my early twenties, but now I really appreciate these cushy accommodations!

I was extremely nauseous as we sat down to dinner. I had salad and soup but couldn’t enjoy anything. I actually had to eat a snack in the bathroom of the hotel room in the middle of the night because I was so sick. In the morning J and I had a breakfast we had packed – bagels, cream cheese, trail mix, and oranges – but nothing helped. I actually didn’t feel sick while we were hiking. I’ve found that exercising really helps with morning sickness, as long as I take it easy and have a snack right afterwards.

We did an out-and-back hike for about three hours to an incredible rock with 365 degree views of the Sierra Nevada’s called Little Baldy. Then we drove to the Giant Forest to check out some gigantic Sequoias and climbed up Moro Rock. This whole park is amazing, and being in the midst of the biggest trees gives me a crazy feeling. It puts things in perspective, helps me realize what’s important in life, makes me feel connected to the universe, and all that cliche stuff!

I threw up twice that afternoon and evening and was still sick at dinner. We finally googled morning sickness and altitude (Sequoia is at 7,000 feet) and it turns out pregnant women who don’t live in high altitudes shouldn’t go to them! Oops. Take heed, all of you!

I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed about wedding planning. My plan was to sign the major contracts after the sequoia weekend and send out save-the-dates in a few months, but I’m only more confused. It feels like too much to ask our friends to travel almost five hours up a remote mountain for our wedding, and to ask our families to fly to Cali, rent cars and drive over two hours up the mountain. We love the forest and the lodge, it’s pretty affordable and our style, but I’m feeling unsettled about it. We did scope out the outside area where we would have the ceremony as well as the reception space, and met with our awesome potential photographers the next day, but I just can’t decide if it’s the right place.

To further complicate things, we’ve started looking at houses. We actually put an offer on a gorgeous, big refinished house I loved, then realized the seller was a flipper who had strange requests and pulled the offer, and today put another offer on a fixer-upper. Not knowing where we’re going to live with our baby is stressing me out! Getting married, pregnant and buying a house all at the same time is a lot, but I’m excited and motivated.

Here are some Sequoia pics. Pregnancy update to come…

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