On the occasion of Mother’s Day, we tell you this story of an out of the ordinary mother
Once upon a time there were a hundred frogs who set off to climb a mountain. The path soon proved impervious and full of obstacles. Tired and discouraged, some of them preferred to back off. Mistrust began to creep through the ranks: “We’ll never make it,” croaked one. “It’s impossible,” echoed another. Gradually infected by discouragement, 99 of them abandoned the enterprise. Only one, silent, reached the top. The only deaf.
Barbara Vigoni was also a deaf frog, for a while: the peak of her mountain, the goal of life, was to become a mother. She wanted it bad enough to know she would make it, even if she kept drawing low cards. Even though the frogs around her were croaking so loud they would have put anyone off. Not her.
43 years old from Mirandola, in the province of Modena, an iron-hardened textile worker, she faced eight attempts at medically assisted procreation, a therapeutic abortion, a diagnosis of atresia (a separation between the esophagus and the stomach) in the fetus, one of hypertension at the end of the pregnancy, a nine-hour operation on her newborn daughter and almost two months of NICU, before having what a lucky mother has with no (or almost) effort. And yet she feels lucky: «Annalaura is three years old today. She is a wonderful, healthy child. In the end, everything went well for her ».
At the beginning, however, an ordeal?
“I wouldn’t call it that. It’s a long journey, but we all know it. It must be taken into account that the first fertilization attempts are unsuccessful. And also that some pregnancies are interrupted. The important thing is to remain positive, to live it with a touch of lightness, otherwise everything becomes an unsustainable boulder».
But how do you stay positive after five, six, seven attempts gone wrong?
«In my case, I bet on the fact that neither my husband nor I had disabling physical problems. I just didn’t get pregnant. I always thought: I didn’t make it this time, I’ll make it next».
Ever considered adoption?
“Every now and then the idea flashed. But the long times discouraged me. And then I was convinced that, sooner or later, a son would arrive».
Are you a believer?
Was it faith that gave you hope?
“No, it was my character. I’m stubborn: if I want something, I have to get it. Thanks to my mother who, since I was a child, told me: “For every problem there is a solution”».
What role did your husband play in all of this?
«David was a great support. He repeated to me: “I do what you want. If you want to stop, let’s get another dog, that’s fine too”. But I had no intention of stopping. I only hesitated once.”
“After losing my first baby. I was entering the fifth month, during an ultrasound they tell me that there is no more heartbeat. I had to have a therapeutic abortion, I had to give birth to her. In the morning they gave me eggs, at night I began to feel contractions. I flew to the hospital, they filled me with morphine: “We know what you have to do”, the doctors reassured me, “it makes no sense for you to suffer”. It was all very fast. I started crying and gave birth. But I didn’t want to see it.”
Why, if I may ask?
“The gynecologist had suggested it to me: ‘This is not something you have to carry with you all your life: if you can, forget it’. I didn’t want the thought of having someone at the cemetery. My husband agreed. Life goes on”.
How did yours go on?
“I asked a psychotherapist for help. I had four meetings, then she told me that I was working it out on my own and that we didn’t need to see each other anymore ».
How long after did he try again?
«A few months, the time to remove a fibroid. I was very confident: I had gotten pregnant once, I would have succeeded again. So it was”.
Peaceful pregnancy, this second?
«At times: the first three months I had copious losses. But Annalaura clung to me right away. The gynecologist told me: “she is a warrior”. At 26 weeks she was diagnosed with esophageal atrasia. Then, towards the end, high blood pressure forced me into immediate hospitalization: due to the child’s pathology, I was followed up at the Spedali Civili in Brescia, where they monitored me for a week, she wasn’t growing, so they scheduled a caesarean. She was born on January 16, 2020. She weighed one kilo and 980 grams: a wren ».
What did he feel when he held her in his arms?
“I had to wait ten days for that. As soon as she was born I didn’t even get to see her: they immediately took her to be tested. The following day was the operation. I saw her after the surgery, asleep and full of tubes. When I finally got to touch her I was terrified: she was so small! In fact, she remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for about two months ».
And you went back and forth between Mirandola and Brescia, 144 km each way?
“Fortunately no. Through a friend, I had come to know of Casa Ronald, a structure of the Ronald McDonald Foundation, a 10-minute walk from the hospital, which, for 10 euros a day, hosts the relatives of hospitalized children. It’s a great place, up in the hills, with a nice view. I felt at home.”
Was she there alone?
“My parents were with me. They helped me a lot: the first days after the caesarean I could hardly move and my mom washed my hair. I tried to spend as much time as possible in the ward and, when I returned, I found everything clean, ironed, cooked. And I also had someone to chat with».
Where was the baby’s dad?
«After 10 days of parental leave he had to go back to work: he is a computer expert, he travels a lot, he never stops. He came to visit us on the weekends.’
When did you start life as a threesome?
«They discharged us the day before the lockdown started. Luckily we have a nice garden at home, we had a lot of barbecues in the open air. I spent my first Mother’s Day like this. We couldn’t be happier. And also lucky: Annalaura was very good, she whimpered only if she was hungry. For the rest, she smiled and slept.’
What kind of girl is she today?
“She is still very smiling and very good. The other day we had to go back to Brescia for the annual checkup. I explained to her that we would go to the hospital, that the doctors would put a tube in her nose… and she: “Mom, how nice, I’m really happy to go to Brescia with you!”. Annalaura is an enthusiast».
A curiosity: how did you choose the name?
«I had proposed Laura, I liked her. And Davide, my husband, relaunched: “Let’s do Annalaura”. The first girl, the one we lost, was supposed to be called Anna. It was our way of always carrying it with us».
More stories from Vanity Fair that might interest you:
– Artificial insemination: why more and more couples resort to Pma
– Medically Assisted Procreation, where we are in Italy
– Postpartum complications: what they are and how to deal with the problems caused by the birth of a child