Integrating into your new country means adopting new laws, new rules and new medical practices. When we moved to Italy, our kids were 2 months old and two and a half years old. I made sure to have all of their medical records and vaccination schedules copied before we left America, and I brought them to our first doctor appointment in Italy. I found that I didn’t really need 99% of what I brought. I had the misconception that, like in America, I would just hand over the medical records to the new doctor for his or her files. But our doctor didn’t want or need anything I brought. He informed me that we needed to buy little medical record books (that you can find at the local hospital or sometimes at the pharmacy). These books hold all the information and records for each pediatric visit. These books contain the growth charts, logs of doctor visits, vaccination records, and so on… and these books stay with the parents. It is then the parent’s responsibility to keep all the medical records and bring them to each visit. The doctor keeps nothing.
However, the one medical record from America that our doctor did look at was the girls’ vaccination record. He advised us to make our appointment with the local ASL office so that we could roll into the Italian schedule. This was also new for me: here, your pediatrician does not administer vaccinations. You head to the health services building and there are doctors whose specific duty is to give vaccines. So we made our appointment… something I don’t understand really because, even with an appointment, you have to take a number and stand in line.
At the office you can hear a steady flow of children screaming. Once it was our turn, the doctors examined our vaccination records and informed us that our U.S. schedule is a bit more aggressive than the one offered in Italy. For our youngest, now five months, we needed to do the second round of DTap, Hib, PCV, IPV, RV, and Hep B. But rather than our U.S. schedule of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12 months, here vaccines are done at 3 months, 5 months, and 12 months only. Essentially all the vaccines that are given at 2 months in America are given at 3 months here; the ones at 4 months in America are given at 5 months here; and the ones given at 6 months in America are given at 12 months here. It’s a lot less stringent.
However, we ended up having a hiccup with the rotavirus vaccine. In America, our eldest was given 3 doses of the rotavirus vaccine and our youngest was given just one dose of this particular vaccine before we left America. In Italy they only give a 2-dose vaccine rather than the 3-dose one we got in America. So to err on the side of safety and caution, the doctors would not give her the rotavirus vaccine until we confirmed if she was given the 2-dose Rotarix or a 3-dose Rotatech vaccine. Luckily, we found out that she was given the 2-dose version so we could seamlessly fold into the Italian schedule. We had to return to get this last one done and now we are up to date! Our eldest daughter did not require any vaccines. However, they noted that based on regional necessity, she should, at some point, get the meningococcal vaccine.
One other thing that is especially noteworthy is that here, vaccinations are not optional. I hail from Los Angeles, a place where there is a seemingly heightened sense of distrust toward vaccines. Angelinos are weary of the effectiveness and of adverse reactions to vaccines. I know many a family who has chosen not to vaccinate their children or has opted for an extended vaccination schedule. When I asked about this topic, I found out that it’s a moot point: vaccines are mandatory. Further, in order for children to be admitted to school they must show proof that they have been vaccinated. I for one chose to vaccinate, but I know this is a very personal and sensitive topic. For me, mandatory vaccines are not an issue, but I know that for some it may be concerning.
So now we are officially part of the Italian healthcare service. And to boot, all of the shots did not cost us a single dime! Free! Having had some insane medical bills in California, I can’t tell you how great it is to receive healthcare sans bill. For more on how the healthcare system works, AngloInfo has a great hub.
Now I’ve read other’s accounts of vaccination appointments and fortunately ours was without incident. But if I have one piece of advice to offer to anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation: make sure you have all medical records on hand. That includes not only the vaccine record but also the medical document from your doctor with the vaccine manufacturer and lot numbers for each vaccine. Make it as easy as possible on yourself since it’s already an eventful and trying moment…. I mean, isn’t your post-vaccinated, crying child difficult enough?
So, if you have a move to a new country on the horizon, know that you should expect some things to be challenging… figuring out the language, learning how to drive, etc. What you don’t want to be challenging, or rather, what you don’t want to be unclear about whatsoever is anything to do with your children medically… and that includes vaccinations.
Sooo… what are you doing for Halloween? Do you stay home with the kids? Do you do the traditional trick or treating? Do you dress up as a family or throw on whatever you can find? This week on New Momversation, Jill Simonian (fabmom.com), Daiva Natochy (diapermonologues.com) and I talk about how we are spending Halloween this year!
This will be our last American Halloween (we’ll be in Italy next year!) and that means we are going all out! Since our two-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with all things Yo Gabba Gabba… what choice did we really have? Yup! My husband is going as DJ Lance Rock, Gemma and I are going as Foofa, and our newborn daughter is going as a flower (from Gabbaland). I don’t have a picture of us all dressed up yet, so in the meantime, imagine us looking like this:
Yo Gabba Gabba… Yo!!!
P.S. I’ll post a pic of us as soon as we get dressed up together for the first time.
This week, Jill Simonian and I discuss some of our baby’s “firsts” - first smile, first steps, first words – and we found out that each of us remember things in our own way!
Do you keep track of your baby’s big moments? How? I think I’m pretty meticulous about logging those big firsts. Since my own baby book was lost, I find that I have a strong desire for my daughters to be able to look back on their baby books and see what their baby years were like. Hopefully, they’ll appreciate it one day!
P.S. Please excuse my tired look… toddler + newborn = no sleep!
Fellow mom, Soleil Moon Frye, is tackling the chaos of motherhood in book form!
Congrats to Soleil!
Are you up for airline travel with an infant? Or are your strictly a road-tripper? Today, Jill (thefabmom.com), Ellen (babymeetscity.com), and I share our opinions and tips about traveling with infants.
Do you agree or disagree? What tips and tricks do you have for traveling with infants? Please leave a comment and also check out New Momversation to see what others have said!
Closed-room music class for babies and toddlers. Enter a nanny with a toddler. Nanny tells the teacher that she wants to keep the child’s shoes on (shoes are not allowed) because the kid is sick. The child starts coughing in a way that sounds like croup or whooping cough or who knows! I look at the teacher, who asks me if I heard that cough. I say yes, and that it sounded pretty bad. The teacher then asks the nanny if she can come back and do a make up class because it’s not wise to bring a sick child into a closed environment with little babies and pregnant women. The nanny leaves with her charge.
End of story….
Or so I thought!
The next week the nanny returns with said sick child and sick child’s mother. OK… this kid is still coughing up a lung, but it sounds much, much better. So you can imagine how bad it must have been the previous week. After the class, the mom approaches me (in full-on angry mamma bear mode) and starts in about how I mistreated her nanny. How rude I was to her nanny. And that I should treat nannies the same way I would treat the mother.
I was so taken aback and shocked that I just let her talk. And then… something happened. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy hormones raging through my body, but I was not taking her crap! I kicked into mamma bear mode too! I sweetly, but coldly, informed her that she d been grossly misinformed. (I can only conclude that the nanny must have told the mother something to save face for whatever reason.) I then proceeded to remind the mother that she wasn’t there and that she shouldn’t be attacking someone when she didn’t even have her facts straight. I let her know that it would be impossible for me to have been rude to her nanny as I didn’t even speak to her nanny and she could confirm this with the teacher. Finally, I gave her a piece of my mind noting that she should be ashamed of herself for sending a child that sick into a small closed room with other kids. (I remind you this was not the normal cough or sneeze of a cold… but was really, really bad. And when my daughter is sick, I never take her to her classes out of respect for other moms!!! We all know it’s hard when the little ones are sick.)
Normally, I’d curtail any confrontation and try to smooth things over. Not today. She got it good (but politely). I don’t know about you, but have you ever had those moments where you think about things after the fact and wish you would have said this or that, or had some great witty remark when you had been left dumfounded and speechless? Well, that did not happen to me today! I was so on the ball that she was taken off-guard at how quickly the tables turned. I saw in her eyes that she realized she was in the wrong. Now, I don’t take pleasure in this sort of thing, but today, it felt great! Who did she think she was? She obviously thought that she was going to go to class and put me in my place. Ha – was she ever surprised.
This entry was more of a rant than anything else, but I wanted to ask, what would you have done? How would you have handled this situation? What do you do if a mother comes at you like a mamma bear? Maybe you would have removed your own kid from the class, or not have thought twice about the sick kid, and then these questions are moot. I’m curious because 1.) it’s new ground for me and this is my first mamma bear confrontation; and 2.) it was obviously such a point of contention for that mother, so much so that she probably took the day off work to come (wrongly) berate me.
I only hope that she learns to question the things her nanny tells her. If the nanny lied about this, what else has she lied about?
Today we discuss how motherhood has changed us. I don’t know about you all, but motherhood made me do a complete 180… for the better. I’m more patient and I realized how simple it is love unconditionally. It’s all about the baby and our little one rules the house, nay, our worlds.
Check out the episode here: How Has Motherhood Changed You?
Please leave me a comment and let me know how you changed once you became a mom.
While we were in Italy, we checked out the neighborhood asilo nido (preschool). Let me tell you a thing or two! How different the system is in Italy! After the insanity of trying to get into a “good” preschool in Los Angeles, I was dumbfounded at the simplicity of the enrollment process in Italy.
- Step 1: Call and make an appointment to visit the asilo.
- Step 2: Visit the asilo.
- Step 3: Be amazed at how incredible the facilities and educational programs are.
- Step 4: Decide you’d like your child to attend.
No twenty-page application. No family photo for prescreening/profiling purposes. No lengthy interviews for you or your child. No need to tell the preschool where you “summer.” Nothing. All the children that attend the preschool have up to date vaccinations (required in Italy), and I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful and clean, clean, clean the asilo was. Moreover, it was a private preschool that costs…. wait for it…. Just about $300 Euro (less if you aren’t attending full time)!!!!
It was incredible! And if you decide you’d like your child to attend… GET THIS: the coordinator will take out a binder and write your child’s name (in actual pen) for the date you’d like to start. THAT IS IT!!!! You’re in. My mouth was left hanging open at the ease of enrollment. Of course, when you start, you’ll have to provide your information, payment, and immunization records, but that is nothing compared to the application processes here in Los Angeles.
For me, this is how I always imagined preschool enrollment: easy, simple, and non-stressful. What an experience!