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Not only have I got Italian blood burning a trail of hot passion through my veins but—having come from a family with five children—I’ve got the empirical evidence to prove it.
At least, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?
After all, the steamy reputation of Italian lovemaking prowess and maternal fecundity are virtually underwritten by Roman mythology—Venus (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Venus_%28mythology%29) and Cupid (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Ceres_%28Roman_mythology%29) are now the universal deities of love, hastily followed by Ceres (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Ceres_%28Roman_mythology%29), the goddess of fertility.
Certainly, there must be something heady in the warm champagne of the Adriatic where Latin lovers double-dip and melt together in procreational bliss like a two-scoop gelato.
You know the old saying—where there’s steam, there must be hot Vesuvian lava?
In any case, that’s what common folk lore and cultural stereotypes about the inhabitants of Italy—the unrivalled royalty of the land of Amore (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Amore)—have led us to believe.
Science, however, in the mundane form of statistical representation, puts a different face on it.
The bucket of cold-water truth is that Italian women wait longer to have children than in any other developed country, with nearly 5 out of every 100 babies (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/boom NULL.html#crunch) being born to over-forty moms.
In fact, according to Mary Barattucci, a 44-year-old midlife American mom living in Italy, “there isn’t as much stigma on older moms” as there is in other countries.
Barattucci, a former IT industry managerial lady-geek from Pennsylvania, who jacked it all in at 40 to move to Italy with her partner, says: “With my biological clock ticking away, we decided to stop using contraception.”
But the climate in Italy for couples ready to procreate runs more than atmospherically-deep—it’s in the cultural blood. Ergo, motherhood can—and does—wait.
“Living in Italy is different” continues Barattucci. “A lot of women here wait until they are older to have children.”
Given the untold effect of stress, pressure and negatively imposed upon over-40 women trying to conceive in places like the USA or the UK, Barattucci’s observations are as refreshing as an Adriatic breeze.
After successfully conceiving only 4 months after packing in her contraception, Mary Barattucci gave birth to a son, Luigi, at 42.
Since then, she’s worked as a part-time translator and launched her own blog and website—The Flavors of Abruzzo (http://flavorsofabruzzo NULL.com/)—while staying at home to care for Luigi, whom she says: “leaves me feeling overjoyed every time I look at him.”
Now 44, she says “We just recently began trying for a second child, about 3 months ago—I was overjoyed when the pregnancy test came out positive 7 weeks ago.”
Sadly, after being “haunted by thoughts of losing the baby”—and less than a week before giving this interview—Barattucci miscarried.
But here she is sanguine, grounded and trusting—leaning with the wisdom of age like Pisa, and acquiescing to the direction in which the maternal wind is blowing.
“I have such a good relationship with my partner that we can weather any storm together” says Mary Barattucci.
“The fact that the first pregnancy went so well is helping me keep the faith.”
And if it’s faith she needs, Barattucci has certainly landed on terra firma—the land where the Vatican floats with a similar ethereal promise as the Emerald City of Oz as the emblem of faith for millions—and where over-40 motherhood is an accepted (albeit alternative) norm.
“No one has ever made any mention of age to me” she says, “There is no negative attitude.”
And why should there be? Like many of us, she has a rock-solid reason for the delay in motherhood.
“I was first married to an older man who had children from a previous marriage and he did not want to have any more”, she explains.
And although, in hindsight, she describes it as a “baaaaad decision,” she also assumed (at the time) that life was leading her down a different path.
The one that was sign-posted: “Perhaps motherhood is not meant to be.”
Isn’t this a recognizable story line? Just change a few places and causes and we can all easily slip into Mary Barattucci’s moccasins of motherhood.
Also, like many of us, she describes herself as over-40 “thinking mom”—the sort who does not, because of her age, experience and wisdom, accept child bearing and parenting scare tactics or even well-meaning advice at face value.
“I read up on everything about getting pregnant in your 40s, so was well aware of the difficulties” says Barattucci.
“I know that at 44, I am a much better mother than I would have been 15 or 20 years ago.
“Being older and more mature, I am more independent and—while I listen to other people’s opinions—I do what I feel is right for my child.”
When asked for her views on the FPM Celebrate Midlife Motherhood awareness campaign, Barattucci was enthusiastic:
“I think what Flower Power Mom is doing is fantastic. While doing my research, I’ve seen so many negative comments about getting pregnant in your 40s.
“Just having the support and sympathetic ear of other mothers or women in the same situation can be an enormous help,” she adds.
Her message—Italian style—to her over-40 sisters trying to conceive, around the world, contains the passion of hope:
“Just keep trying and do not give up. I think a positive attitude works wonders!”
Notes for this blog:
For Mary Barattucci’s blog and website, go to:
http://flavorsofabruzzo.com/ (http://flavorsofabruzzo NULL.com/)
For her blog on Flower Power Mom, go to: http://flavorsofabruzzo.com/2010/03/09/midlife-motherhood/ (http://flavorsofabruzzo NULL.com/2010/03/09/midlife-motherhood/)
Those readers’ trying to conceive after 40 who would like to write to Mary may email email@example.com (editor null@null flowerpowermom NULL.com) for her email contact information.
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