I'm Lisa!

I’m a magazine founder & editor, a private food & shopping guide and watercolour artist who wants to share everything I know about the best-kept secrets in Tuscany with you.


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Meeting Matteo


Introducing Matteo Loris Di Donato

1 hour old

On Monday, the 12th September at 1.05pm, our beautiful son Matteo Loris Di Donato came into the world.  I can’t believe a month has already passed and I seriously thought I would have posted this earlier but I have learnt very quickly how some days just having a shower is a major achievement with a newborn in the house!  Emiliano and I are the proudest parents ever,  we have already taken a ridiculous amount of photos as he seems to change a little bit with each passing day.

First Day in the world

so tiny!

Regarding his actual birth, I thought I’d tell you about my hospital experience as having a baby in another country can seem quite daunting.  I wont go into too many details (at the request of my father – I think he thought I’d be too graphic! ) but below is a brief time-line of my labour from when my waters broke at 2am the morning of Saturday the 10th September to when Matteo was born on the 12th.

Saturday 10th September, 2am – Waters broke. As I didn’t have any contractions, we first rang the hospital to check if I needed to go immediately or wait a bit longer.  They advised that we should get there as soon as possible so at 3am, I was admitted to the San Giovanni di Dio. (Torregalli) hospital.  It was funny driving to the hospital watching all the people out and about going to bars while I was sitting on a towel in the car on the way to give birth!

having one of the many tracciato monitors

I then had a tracciato & antibiotics throughout the day.  I’m not sure what the translation of Tracciato is but it is basically a machine that monitors the baby’s heartbeat, my contractions and any movement from the baby that I could feel.  I had many of these during my stay but was still only having very minor contractions on Sunday morning.  The protocol here is to wait for 24 hours from when the waters break before inducing the labour if there are no contractions. As you can see by my face in the photo above, I was obviously not feeling any pain……yet.

10am Sunday 11th September – The decision was made to induce me with a gel. They had done this to another woman in my room the day before and her labour came on very quickly – her waters broke and she gave birth 7 minutes later so I kept thinking that I was going to have the same intense, quick delivery.

3pm – contractions become stronger and more painful.  I suddenly understood what all the screaming was about that I had heard the night before from one of the other rooms!

10pm –  I was only 3cm dilated and my contractions were now very painful and more frequent.  The best position for me was standing while leaning on Emiliano – at one stage the contractions were so painful, I bit him on the shoulder and didn’t even realise it!  I kept telling myself that each contraction was bringing me closer to the delivery and meeting our baby but I had no idea that I had the whole night to still get through.

1am Monday 12th September – At 4cm dilated, I was taken to the labour room next to the delivery room where for the next 3 hours, I was monitored further.  The contractions were excruciating.  I had an obstetrician looking after me and was encouraged to change positions frequently.  They had a huge bean-bag which was great for leaning over during the contractions.  Emiliano asked at what stage I could have the epidural (that I had already signed the consent for).  We were advised that they would have to check and see if the anesthetist was available as there was only one on duty during the night.  You should have seen my face when told that lovely piece of news!  To my relief he was available and arrived about 10 minutes later.

3am – First Epidural was given.  The insertion of the epidural was not painful at all, or maybe just seemed like nothing compared to the contractions.  It was such a nice feeling to feel the anesthetic working it’s way down my back and pure bliss once the drug took effect!  Suddenly I felt no more pain, just a pushing pressure with each contraction.

The epidural slowed down my contractions so I was given a drip of additional drugs to further induce the labour.  After 2.5 hours, the epidural wore off and I went through another half hour of painful contractions before I was given another epidural

6am – Second epidural

9am – At 9am, I was only 4cm dilated so I was advised that I was going to be given a third epidural but that it would be the last that they could give me.  The obstetrician looking after me said that she wasn’t very optimistic that I was going to dilate any further and that at this stage a lot of time had passed since my waters had broken.  There was now the risk of stressing the baby.  I was obviously already quite stressed myself!  I let her know that I had no problem whatsoever with having a caesarian as by this stage I was also so exhausted.

12pm – With only 6cm dilation and 58 hours since my waters had broken, it was finally decided to give me a caesar.  The surgeon thought he was giving me bad news when he advised that things were not progressing quickly enough.  The obstetrician told him that he had made the signora very happy!  I was so relieved and couldn’t wait to get into the operating room!

1.05pm Monday 12th September – Matteo is born!

Is it only in Italy where the doctors and staff in the operating room discuss their recipes for Melanzane Parmigiana while doing a caesarian?

When they opened me up, I heard the surgeon discussing the best way to pull Matteo out.  Apparently he was not in a good position and he wouldn’t have been born naturally anyway.  I don’t understand why an ultrasound to look at the position of the baby’s head couldn’t have been done earlier?

Our gorgeous new son weighed 3.62kg and was 53cm long.

3 days old

the very happy (and exhausted) new family

Thursday 15th September – discharged 3 days after giving birth.

Even though being in labour for so long was certainly not what I had anticipated, I found the level of care by all the obstetricians, surgeons and anesthetists to be exceptional and I had no regrets about my hospital choice.  I was in a newly renovated hospital ward which was very impressive – even came with a classic Tuscan view out the window of cypress trees and olive groves.  My bed had an electric remote control to adjust the position and height of the bed and considering the pain after the caesarian, I was so happy to have any assistance possible to get in and out of bed.  We were discharged after 3 days (2 days for a natural birth) and I was a bit nervous at first about how I would get in and out of my low bed at home but I surprisingly felt quite good by day 4 even though I was still walking quite slowly.  It was also so nice to be home after being in hospital for nearly 6 days, especially to eat some real food again!  I was to come back the following Monday to have my staples removed.  I had 13 of them but felt nothing when they were removed.  At first I thought my scar was quite long but it already seems to have shrunk and is a very thin line.

The morning that I was discharged I was called to the nursery where the pediatrician told me that Matteo had lost more weight than the expected so they advised that they were going to give him some formula and that I was to also continue this for the next 24 hours and come back for a check-up the next morning.  I burst into tears feeling like a failure because my milk hadn’t come in yet.  The pediatrician was lovely and told me that this was to be expected considering the stress of my labour and the fact that I had had a caesar.  I can’t believe that it then took a good 2.5 weeks for my milk to come in – I just assumed that milk was a given with all women after giving birth!  I kept attaching Matteo, even when giving him the bottle trying to encourage my milk production as much as possible and it eventually paid off but I still feel sometimes like I am not producing enough for him and his voracious appetite.

Tomorrow Matteo will be one month old.  It is fascinating watching him each day and getting to know his developing personality.  I am guilty of passing away the time just staring at him and admiring his many facial expressions.  He is constantly hungry and at this stage sleeping for about 3-4 hours in-between feeds.  His umbilical cord has still not fallen off but it looks like it will be any day now.  I can’t wait!

He has also been spoilt so much already, receiving some of the most lovely gifts.  I can’t believe how designer his wardrobe is – he already has Burberry and Armani in there – doing better than me and he is barely a month old!

We have been out for many walks around Florence, the first when he was about 10 days old.  I find it much easier to get around with the Baby Bjorn as he sleeps so well pressed against my chest.  It is also much easier to get around the narrow streets here without a pram.  I am slowly learning which restaurants have changing facilities and have noticed that the Italians are very baby-friendly!  The Prenatal shop has a room for feeding and changing which has been very convenient and the restaurant 4 Leoni has a changing table in the bathroom.  Matteo has been fed in Piazza Republica, Via Tornabuoni and even had ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (the line was so long and he was quite hungry so I just breast-fed him while we waited our turn)

Nonni Di Donato


Dad, Fina, Annabella, Joseph, Matteo, Emiliano & me

Proud Nonno Joe

I have also been very fortunate to have my father here for the last 6 weeks.  It has been lovely watching him with his newest grandson and having him so close each day.

Matteo obviously thinks I’ve written enough as has just woken up asking to be fed.  Below are some of the many photos we have taken this last month.

Meeting cousins Annabella & Joseph

Meeting cousin Giulia

Perfect Feet

Proud Dad / Babbo


cuddle & a burp with mummy

At home

it is the tradition in Italy to hang a rosette (pink or blue) on the front door announcing the arrival of a new baby.

First Bistecca alla Fiorentina at 'Fiesolano'

Hi Dad!

our little munchkin

My first passport photo

Buona Notte -thanks to Carol for making the gorgeous blanket!



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Ciao, I'm Lisa B,
I’m a magazine founder & editor, a private food & shopping guide and watercolour artist who wants to share everything I know about the best-kept secrets in Tuscany with you.

I created This Tuscan Life blog, magazine and experiences to share everything I love about Florence & Tuscany, one of the most popular and visited regions in Italy.   Add a splash of watercolour & you've got a creative mamma of two who wants to show you the true & authentic side of Tuscany.

Learn more