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Les Vacances: Day 4

Friday, 24. April 2009 8:54

I didn’t get this posted yesterday because we got back from the playground a little late. I had enough time to put dinner together before rushing out the door to my dance class. So, here are a few pics from our trip to the playground. Today we’ll be doing that nature walk that I mentioned the other day and then a picnic at the park.

At the Playground

At the Playground

At the Playground

Category:Julien, Pregnancy, Sophia, Travel | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica

Differences — The French Experience

Monday, 7. January 2008 14:41

There was a room attached to my hospital room that was a changing station for the babies. The midwife would come in every morning in order to bathe and weigh the babies. She washed Julien the first day and then watched me do it each morning after that. She was able to offer corrections and answer any questions that I might have. When we were discharged from the hospital, we were given a prescription for all of the products that they used at bathtime, so we were all set at home.

I’m pretty sure that Sophia only had that first bath right after she was born. I remember Joe and I giving her her first bath at home. He and I each had a book open, reading how we were supposed to do it, completely inept at how to handle a wet, wiggling baby! I think it would have been nice with the first one to at least be able to go home with the knowledge that we could bathe our baby.

Random Numbers
Twice a day someone came into the room, put a device in my ear and then said what seemed like a truly random number.

It was the midwife taking my temperature, but I grew up with temperatures in Fahrenheit and I still haven’t memorized what the normal temperature is in Centigrade, so it did truly feel like a random number to me. I only knew from the look on her face that the number was OK.

They did something similar with Julien. It actually took me a couple of days to realize that they were recording his bilirubin levels to check for jaundice.

My roommate spent a great deal of her time more than half naked. I looked at her on the second day in the hospital and thought, “Wow! She looks like she should be having a baby tomorrow, not like she had one yesterday.”

Closer inspection of myself in the mirror later on showed that I could say the same thing about myself (I hate that)!

We had the same issue leaving the hospital as we did at arrival. Namely, no one bothered to tell us that we needed to go back to the little check-in office in order to check out. In the US they must wheel you out of the hospital in a wheelchair. They also made a huge deal that you couldn’t put the baby in the infant car seat carrier before you left the hospital. Here, I was given the all-clear to go, and then no instructions as to what to do (not quite true — I later found a sheet of paper in the midst of all my prescriptions and paperwork). I was able to track down my doctor who then told me that I could leave any time as long as it was before noon. I talked to a couple of midwives who also said I could just leave, with no mention of the little room. Joe and I knew that something must have been missing from our verbal instructions, so we stopped by that room, just in case. Good thing we did since that was where we got the paperwork so that he could prove to his work that I had been in the hospital.

Category:France, Julien, Pregnancy, Sophia | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica

Differences — Privacy

Saturday, 22. December 2007 12:05

I find it funny to write about privacy because as the mother of a toddler, I really don’t know what it is anymore. I can’t even go to the bathroom in peace since we’re “pre-potty training.” Having said that, there were quite a few differences between the US and France in terms of privacy in the hospital.

In the US
As I mentioned, for Sophia’s actual birth there were what seemed like a ton of people there (and I was too out of it to care). But afterward, I was taken to a private room and Sophia stayed in the room with me. Even though I had a private room, there was still a curtain between the door and the bed so that no one could see into the bed area if the door was open.

In France
I forgot to ask for a private room (big mistake — huge). When the midwife came to wheel me from the delivery room to my room, she asked if I had made any room requests. I started to reply that I hadn’t, but was there a private room available? I didn’t even get the question out before she said, “No.” and wheeled me to my shared room.

There was one other woman and her baby. There were no curtains between the beds, so any exams with the doctor, for both me and Julien, were in full view. If anyone had to call a nurse, they responded over a loudspeaker in the room, and then we had to explain out loud what we needed before someone would come and help.

It seemed to me that they were a bit stricter in France in terms of visiting hours and number of visitors allowed, so that wasn’t really a problem. There was, at least, a door on the bathroom!

Category:France, Julien, Pregnancy, Sophia | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Differences — Delivery

Monday, 17. December 2007 20:30

I have now had one child in the US and one in France and thought I’d share a few of the differences between those experiences. I should probably preface this by saying that I’m sure there are a ton of variations in each place, but here’s what I experienced.

In the US:
Sophia was born to a room full of 8-10 people, not including Joe and myself. I think it was a slow night, or something, in the maternity ward. Half of those people had decided that she was “in distress” and therefore, wouldn’t let me move around at all. I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitor all the time. There was a doctor threatening a cesarean section, but the midwife finally told him that I’d have the baby in the time it took him to prep. They kept the monitor on her the whole time, even screwing a probe into her head as she came out (have you seen those? it’s a little wire spring that they literally screw into the baby’s head. Ouch!)

When she was born, she was placed on my stomach and encouraged to nurse. She was then taken to the other side of the room to be examined by the doctor, cleaned up, given eye drops and a shot of vitamin K before being bundled up and returned to us.

In France:
For Julien’s birth, there was one doctor and one midwife in addition to Joe and I. I will grant you that they didn’t have any time to determine if Julien was in distress. They barely had time to hook me up to the fetal monitor at all!

The main difference, aside from the number of people, was after the birth. Julien was placed on my stomach and toweled off. He remained there for about 2 hours. The doctor and midwife checked that we were both OK, put a blood pressure monitor on me and left the room. They came back on occasion to make certain that we were still OK, but really left us alone. It was nice to have that time together as a family.

After the two hours was up, Julien was taken to be weighed, given eye drops and then given an oral dose of vitamin K (no shots).

I’d say that Julien had a much nicer welcome to the world. Don’t you think?

Category:France, Julien, Pregnancy, Sophia | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

On Our Own

Wednesday, 12. December 2007 18:58

So my last post was on the day before my Mom left for the US. She was here for the month of November to help with Sophia and the new baby, and apparently was the only reason that I was able to find any time to write!

She was also the only reason that I was able to get any sleep. She’d get up in the morning to watch Sophia and Julien so that I could sleep until noon. So, I haven’t had much sleep lately. Julien had his days and nights mixed up for quite a while. I may be a little early in saying this, but he seems to be figuring it out now. Whew!

That’s not to say that we’re getting much sleep, yet. He still only sleeps a maximum of 3.5 hours at a time. The good news for now is that when he wakes up to eat in the middle of the night, he’ll actually go back to sleep when he’s done. Now if he could just start to sleep before 2am…..

Anyways, I’ve got a few other posts that I want to write about the differences between the French and US birth experiences, so stay tuned!

Category:Julien, Pregnancy | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

The Story

Saturday, 17. November 2007 19:01

For everyone who has asked how it went…..

I woke up the morning that Julien was born at 5:30am with a backache. I thought that maybe I had just been sleeping in the wrong position and that it was way too early to be up anyways, so I went back to sleep. By 6:30am, I knew that they were contractions, but I still tried to go to sleep. By 7am, they were much more regular and I finally got myself out of bed to take a shower.

We got to the hospital a little after 9am. When I had had my appointment with the anesthesiologist a month ago, he had told me that I was all registered and that, when the time came, I just needed to go right to the maternity waiting room, so that’s what we did. I pushed the call button, told someone over the intercom that I was in labor and was told to wait. Someone eventually came out, I told them how far apart the contractions were and I was told to wait. They took another couple in. The contractions were getting closer and more intense so I told Joe to call them again.

Over the intercom he told them, “Elle est prête.” (She is ready.)

Response: Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

Someone came out to see what was going on, and Joe told them again that I was ready. Another man in the waiting room also chimed in that my contractions were less than two minutes apart.

Response: OK, wait here.

The next time someone came out it was to ask who was it that was having the close contractions and they finally led us to the delivery room. Joe had to stop to get a gown and slippers and as I was waiting for him in the delivery room the doctor told me that I hadn’t checked in. I explained that I was already registered and was told while I was registered, I wasn’t checked in. Joe would need to take my insurance card and go downstairs to actually check in to the hospital (the anesthesiologist had missed that one important step).

So Joe goes running downstairs while I’m being hooked up to a fetal monitor and an IV. When he finally makes it back I ask how far dilated I am.

Response: Complet. Done.

They asked if I felt like pushing. I said, “A little,” and was told to go ahead.

Official check in time: 10:15am

Julien’s birth: 10:32am

Category:Julien, Pregnancy | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica


Thursday, 15. November 2007 12:36

J’attends. I’m waiting.

I was planning on sitting down last Friday morning to write about how I had had my latest doctor’s appointment and that at the end of it she recommended that I make my next appointment for my due date of November 20th. Two more weeks of waiting…

I was planning on writing about how every time I took a deep breath, Joe and Mom were there to ask if I was feeling OK.

And how Mom kept telling me how big I was, much bigger than the last time (please make a note: pregnant women do not want to hear this). And how my brother had been a big baby and he was late so that I must be having a big baby, too. I kept telling her that all indications said that he would be normal size, but that fell on deaf ears.

Instead, I woke up Friday morning to my first contractions.

And now, je vous presents…….

Julien, originally uploaded by emorris1.

Julien Michael
Born 9 November at 10:32am
3.48 kg / 7 lbs. 11 oz.
50 cm / 19.7 inches

Category:Julien, Pregnancy | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica


Friday, 26. October 2007 13:42

She called on Monday night. I was at the supermarket and could hardly hear her. “How far along are you in your pregnancy?” she asked.

“8 and a half months,” I replied.

“Are you free Wednesday morning?” she asked.

The real answer was “No,” but for this, for this I would make myself available. Somehow, I would make it work.

When I failed my practical driving test, I went back to the auto-école and asked how long I needed to wait before I could take the test again. I learned that the obligatory wait was 15 days, but that the auto-école was so backed up that they wouldn’t be able to present me again for about 3 months. 3 months! It’s been hard enough trying to juggle this whole ordeal with just Sophia, now I was looking at possibly adding a one-month-old into the mix.

So I jumped at the chance when the woman from the auto-école called, and took my second test Wednesday morning. I was supposed to take Sophia to the crêche, meet the cleaning lady for the first time and then take Terrie, Joe’s mom, and Lil, Joe’s grandmother to the airport. So, no, I wasn’t really free, but like I said, I had to make it work. Or rather, Joe had to help me make it work. He dropped me off, took Sophia to the crêche, met the cleaning lady and then picked me up so I was still available to do the airport run.

I passed!


And for other good news, our new Cartes de Sejour are ready to be picked up from the Préfecture. Once that’s done, I can also sort out everything with our health insurance (although I have already sent off everything for my photo insurance card). Yay!

Category:France, Pregnancy | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica

The One Where I Cave

Thursday, 25. October 2007 18:02

I was flipping through the Vertbaudet catalog the other day and saw this

Nid d'Ange

It’s called a nid d’ange (literal translation is angel’s nest) and it’s basically a warm sack for babies. This one is transformable. You can change the bottom so that it has legs and you can put the baby in a car seat, and you can also remove the bottom half completely so that it is just a jacket. I thought that it might be useful, and then thought it was kind of overkill for our area and kept flipping through the catalog.

We live on the Côte d’Azur and the climate is pretty similar to what we were used to in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s a bit colder in the winter and the nights are warmer in the summer, but otherwise it’s pretty comparable. Our first winter here, Joe and I laughed and laughed at how people here dressed in the winter. At just the slightest chill in the air, out came scarves, gloves, hats and parkas. I’d be walking around in a sweater and the woman next to me would look like she was ready for the Arctic and had dressed in a down comforter!

As I remembered that first winter, I also remembered how many times people would stop me while I was out with Sophia to tell me that she was cold (I truly don’t believe that she was) and how at the Halte Garderie last year I was told that she needed to be wearing a onesie underneath her winter clothes because she was cold. I’m not the only expat to experience this, my neighbor knew she was in trouble when she went to pick her son up from the Halte Garderie one day and found that they had dressed him in someone else’s sweater.

So I flipped back to the nid d’ange and decided that if 30 euro would keep the French ladies off my back this winter, it was 30 euro well spent!

Category:France, Pregnancy | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Culture Note: Germs

Monday, 22. October 2007 18:03

My friend, Isabelle, and I were talking about a friend of hers that is Greek-German and had recently had a baby. Apparently the custom in Greece is for the mother and baby to stay with her parents for 40 days after the birth, pretty much secluded from the rest of the world. This woman had had her baby in Germany, however, where she was shocked that they practically pushed her out the door with the stroller to get the baby some fresh air.

I mentioned that in the US the doctors tend to advise that you keep the baby mainly at home for 4-6 weeks. It’s okay to go out to open areas like a park, but that you should probably avoid closed, crowded places like shopping centers because the baby hasn’t really built up its immune system. I then mentioned that one of the common topics of discussion in the breastfeeding support group that I attended was how to keep strangers from touching your baby.

Isabelle: Why don’t you want people touching the baby?

Me: Well, because they probably haven’t washed their hands, so they have germs. They touch the baby’s hand and then the baby puts her hand into her mouth…..

Isabelle: So you make your friends and family wash their hands before you let them touch the baby?

Me: Yes, but you don’t really have to ask them to do it. They already know that they should wash their hands before they touch the baby.

Isabelle: Well, you’ll have to remind me before I touch your baby because I definitely won’t remember to do that.

Me: That’s OK, my mom will be around. She’ll remind you!

Isabelle: I can’t believe you don’t want people to touch the baby. They need contact with germs, too, you know.

Me: I know.

Isabelle: So, it’s true what they say about Americans.

Me: That’s we’re germaphobes who try to keep everything clean. Yeah, pretty much.

Category:France, Pregnancy | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica