40 years ago today, 31st May 1973, my son Brando was born in the delightful southern Italian town of Sorrento.
I was 20 years old and found myself in the terrifying position of being in a hospital, where I understood just about nothing, and about to give birth to my first ( and only ) child. It is the terror I remember more than anything else.
He was born late at night after a 12 hour labour where I was offered no pain relief and left by myself for much of the time. I went to sleep soon after the birth after having discovered I had a son and that everything was where it should be.
I awoke the next morning to find a line of people staring at me…that funny foreign girl…from the door to my room. I was apparently called the Diabolical One, because I had predicted that I would have a boy and I had not made a sound during the birth. I didn’t really predict that I would have a son, I just wanted a boy to replace the much loved 7 year old brother I had left behind in Australia…and I do recall swearing a bit.
As well as this, my mother had sent me some white baby clothes from Australia, little dresses really, that babies were dressed in at the time at home. Italians dressed their baby boys in navy blue knitted suits…I was truly strange. In addition, my baby was the biggest in the hospital at almost 4.3 kilos.
I was presented with my new son for his first meal. I will never forget the wobbly head and the open mouth, just like a baby bird. I was able to have a good look at his lovely face for the first time. He looked just like me. He was born with black curly hair, like I was, and had blue eyes, like my father.
When we left the hospital 5 days later ( I was supposed to stay for 10 days, lying flat on my back all the time, but I couldn’t stand it) I was presented with the dry and shrivelled remains of his umbilical cord which had just dropped off. This was said to bring good luck. I was less than impressed and threw it in the gutter on the way to the car. The nurses all said, “See you next year” on my way out. “Not bloody likely” I whispered under my breath.
I had been advised not to bathe for the next 6 weeks. I went home, placed my baby in his cot and went straight to the bathroom, where I had the best hot shower I have ever had in my life.
Anyway, Brando grew to be a delightful, sweet natured little boy and he is now a delightful, intelligent, handsome, funny and friendly man. (I am his mother)
Happy birthday Brando! I am glad I had you 40 years ago in Sorrento.
To see more of my past life in southern Italy, click here and here.