You Are Never Alone


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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence
December 27th 2013
Published: January 9th 2014
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“Are you sure you want to keep your baby… You live here alone aren’t you?” the doctor carefully said after we discussed baby A’s fatal diagnosis. “It’s just… going to be… less traumatic if you do it sooner… the longer you wait, the harder the delivery would be... And caesarian would not be an option either due to your baby’s condition.” I closed my eyes. This is a nightmare. Pls tell me this is only a nightmare. My husband & I looked at each other and we were both just… lost. When paying the bills, we were amazed at how the nurse actually gave me 2 small white pills to take home. “Take this when you want to start the labor, then you come here to deliver”. What?

Just by chance, my husband was spending the holiday with me and can join that particular doctor’s appointment – when we heard the “verdict”. Tragically, that was also the first time he saw baby A through the monitor. Normally we live apart, like in 2 different countries apart. It’s complicated and we have our reasons, but it is what it is. After a lot of tears, anger, hugs and soul searching – we decided to keep baby A for as long as we can.

I trust what the 3 doctors said, the evidences are strong: the holes in her heart, how swollen she is from head to toe, the cysts wrapping her neck & head – unfortunately, there’s just no way she’ll survive. But I’m not keeping her in hope that somehow a “miracle” will happen. We’re keeping her because… Well… We just don’t have the heart to “kill” her… For a baby THAT sick, she’s always very active in every check up; tumbling, turning, even bouncing up and down (seriously). She’s such a fighter. I asked my doctor “If she’s THAT sick, then how come she’s so active??” He said very stoically “Well, she’ll eventually stop moving soon”. He must’ve seen too many sick babies as he doesn’t even blink when saying it.

“It’s okay baby A, you can stay in mummy’s tummy for as long as you want… If you still want to be carry by mummy, we’re happy to do so; but if you can’t take it anymore and it gets too much… we’re okay if you need to leave too… We will be together one day and we’ll never have to say goodbye again…And then… And then we will be able to recreate every moments we never had the chance to have in this world, okay?... ” – I told her over and over again while caressing my bumping belly in tears. I also promised her that I will not complain whatever physical pain I will need to endure as the consequence of our choice. Doesn’t mean that I won’t cry, or scream, or ask for a lot of morphine, but I won’t complain...

The tricky part about carrying a dying baby is we don’t know WHEN she will die… Maybe in 3 weeks, maybe in 3 months, who knows. Different doctors gave different predictions. My husband & I initially stayed off work for a while, but eventually, we ran out of leaves. Well to be fair, my boss was very understanding, but staying at home & just crying all day is not healthy for anyone. We started to stack up some emergency numbers: hospitals, clinics, ambulance & confine to some close friends in case I need help from them in the middle of the night or something.

Before my husband flew back to his town, he kissed my belly and bitterly whispered to baby A “You take good care of mummy will you? I love you…” And then he looked at me, trying to be strong but can’t hide his sadness “Are you sure you’re okay here alone?... I don’t mind staying… Forget about work…” I shrugged, “It’s okay.. I am not alone, I’m with baby A…”

***

J: “So, you’re going alone?”

Me: “Yup”

J: “Like alone, alone? Or staying with a friend there or something?”

Me: “Nope, this time, just alone.”

J: “But… but… then you’ll have to eat alone in restaurants…”

Well J, you have no idea what are the things I’ve done single handedly in this life do you?

My colleague has a point though. It can be a bit awkward to sit alone in a restaurant. But being in Italy, it’s a crime not to have some sort of gastronomic adventure. After skimming through hundreds of restaurant reviews in Tripadvisor, I finally nailed down like top 10 eateries I want to drop by in. And believe me, it was hard to narrow it down, there are just soooo many choices.

For me, the best meal I had in Italy is at Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori (Address: Via dei Magazzini, 3, Florence, Italy, Phone:+39 055 293045). It’s a small family style eatery, tucked in a quiet street near the Uffizi Palace with Italian only menu – no English translation (which is a good sign of non touristy place). I think the mum cooks, the dad behind the meat counter, and their sons hosted. When I arrived just before my reserved time, I can see the restaurant is very full but they actually LOCKED their front door! It said “Completo/ Full”. I waited outside a bit, and finally they opened the door. Thomas, the son, called me by my name. The place was packed with locals, who greets Thomas and his dad with hugs and kisses. Yup, that Italian way, even with same gender. Other guests, looked at me as if I stepped into their house without permission. I ordered the fresh pasta with zucchini flower and cheese – and it’s like mac & cheese from heaven! (Baby A, you should totally order this up there). I also tasted their breaded fried artichoke & strawberry meringue. Final price, only 25 euro (including service charge & water). Sitting alone, did not stop me at all from having fun. The gentleman on the next table seemed to enjoy their osso bucco (braised oxtail) and lamb chops. Before I finished eating, I called Thomas for lunch reservation the next day. He was even being kind enough to offer me to just pay the next day. Hey? What if I never came back to pay? They are just so kind. It was definitely 2nd best meal of my life. Well, only 2nd, because the first place was taken by Asitane’s braised lamb shank in Istanbul.

What else did I try in Florence? Unfortunately La Casalinga was closed (even though they accepted my reservation, grrr…) but I heard they are value for money. Luckily Café Coquinarius (Address: Via delle Oche, 15R, 50122 Florence, Italy, Phone:+39 055 230 2153) was willing to take me in without reservation. Their pear cheese tortellini is delicious. Their fresh buffalo mozzarella was… not as special as I expected. Again, bill ended up to be 25 euro.

What surprisingly turned out to be a let down was L'Osteria Di Giovanni – which came up as highly recommended in tripadvisor. Their service is excellent, you can easily reserve from their website, but the food… Hmm… somehow it just didn’t hit the spot for me. Not the ribolita (vegetable bread soup) nor the fresh pasta with porcini mushroom. Maybe it’s just me. Since they were just so nice to me (even took off the ribolita out of the 30+ euro bill), I decided not to write my review in tripadvisor this time even though the food was a bit of a blah.

Now let’s talk about gelato! Oh my. Let’s see. In Florence, there are several recommended place: Gelateria Santa Trinita (nice!), La Carraia (very value for money, also taste good), Grom (people said it’s nice but expensive, my tummy was too full so did not drop by) and Perche No! (hiks hiks, did not try either).

Lastly, I also indulge myself in biscotti or cantucci. I dropped by Il Cantuccio di San Lorenzo (Address: Via Sant'Antonino, 23, Florence, Italy, Phone:+39 055 290034) near Santa Maria Novella train station. Their cookies are just so moist and delicious! But… very expensive! One big bag of cantucci (probably like 250 grams) cost 12 euro! That’s expensive compared to the 3 euro bag you can find at the supermarket. I actually bought a whole lot of them and hulled them back to Singapore! But one thing for sure, apparently cantucci is not supposed to be as hard as rock. The versions in Singapore almost broke my teeth!

About eateries in Rome? Let me write it in a separate blog entry. Now, back to Florence. Of course I did not just eat the whole 3 days (although, that’s a very tempting idea). From my room at B&B Il Salotto di Firenze (which was in this big elegant apartment just around the corner of Duomo, literally, no kidding) I pretty much walked everywhere. And even in winter, the queues to attractions are quite long. I went into the Duomo, but skipped the Baptistry and the tower because I just don’t have the time to queue. Luckily I made a reservation to Uffizi Gallery over the phone a week before, so I just went straight in although I had to pay extra 3 euro service fee. You can also make reservation online, but you’ll have to pay upfront. If you miss your slot, then your money is gone. But if you book over the phone, you don’t have to pay upfront. Read more about it here.

The Uffizi Gallery awe many people, but for me, to be honest, I’m more amazed by Piazzale Michaelangelo. It’s actually just a parking spot up above, about 1.5 km walk up from Ponte Vecchio, but it’s one of the best spot to see the city view. I was very restless inside Uffizi because the sky was blue outside. I just can’t wait for it to be finished and just marched up to Piazzale Michaelangelo. Got there just in time for the sunset & blue hour! The walk down is a bit scary simply because I was alone & it was very quiet & dark (like, hardly any light). I decided to wait until someone else passed by then walked behind them, just to be safe.

Overall Florence was very enjoyable & recommended. The city itself not too big, not too small. Even randomly walking around tends to led me to beautiful piazza & buildings . Too bad I didn’t have the time to visit Gallery Accademia to see the real David statue; as I prioritized day trips around Tuscany and even went to Cinque Terre! I totally think the fun of traveling beats the worry of eating alone in a restaurant. Although again, I still would’ve trade all of this up, just to be with baby A again…

For more of my pictures click HERE, for my hotel & restaurant reviews click HERE.

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9th January 2014

you are a brave woman!
Your last two blogs brought tears to my eyes, but also a feeling of admiration at how brave you are. I know what you are going through as I had two miscarriages before our daughter Ella was born a year ago... it's tough but, unfortunately, these things happen to more women than people realise, but just because it happened once (or twice in my case) doesn't mean you won't be able to have a healthy baby, just keep trying!... trying is the fun part anyway!! ;) On another note, great photos!
10th January 2014

thank you for your kind word... so sorry for your 2 miscarriages. this particular trip is dedicated in memory of baby A, so unfortunately there will be several more of sad theme blogs
10th January 2014

A glimpse into the lives of our customers ...
... so often it is simply amazing to be able to dip into the lives of people that we only meet for just very few hours. We've dipped into yours and you've changed ours. Many of our staff remember you, and we are all thinking of you.
11th January 2014

OMG how did you manage to find this blog?? thanks Caterina, I remember your team too. best wishes.
14th January 2014

the heart is stronger than you think
but i can't imagine how painful it is, this made me cry...keep well, i wish you the best. on a lighter note, amazing photos as always. x

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