School’s out forever! That song has been stuck in my head since walking to Alliance Française this morning for my last day of French class.
It was bittersweet heading into the building and my classroom for the last time. I am sad to not continue further with my classmates—especially since my French has seriously improved in six weeks. However, I’m also looking forward to a few weeks (or days—who knows? I’ll be 37 weeks on Monday) “off” while we wait for baby girl to arrive.
Everyone was in a particularly good mood today, probably because the weather is beautiful and it’s Friday. Also, the first 2016 UEFA Euro Cup Game kicks off this evening and France is the host country (and Toulouse is a host city), so a kind of festive atmosphere seems to hover in the air.
I suppose it wouldn’t be France, though, if someone wasn’t upset and protesting over the country hosting the Euro Games. At about 11:15, our class was suddenly disrupted by the sounds of chants, horns and whistles coming from the Capitol. Away to the window we all flew like a flash, tore open the curtains and threw up the sash! What to our wondering eyes should appear? A small group of protesters and police in riot gear. From what I understand, this protest was meant to embarrass the government, which has come under a lot of fire lately for recent labor reforms.
Our professor gave us a minute to stare before corralling us back to our seats. Admittedly, it was hard to concentrate during the moments of class remaining until we took our break, but once he released us for coffee, several of us crowded by the window to take in the free entertainment. The protest lasted for about another 15 minutes and then everyone dispersed—I guess it was time for lunch. Even a protest can’t come in the way of déjeuner!
Once all was calm outside, my fellow pregnant classmates and I began discussing our experiences thus far being pregnant in France and what to expect. One of the women is having her second child and she, myself and one of the other women go to the same doctor (and will give birth at the same hospital), so we were curious about her experiences the first time around.
One of the interesting things I’ve learned about the hospital where I’ll be giving birth is that they don’t provide the mothers anything to wear during delivery—it’s up to you to bring pretty much anything and everything you think will make you feel more comfortable. I ended up going to the local Monoprix and buying two cheap, cotton nightgowns that can open in the front (important for skin-to-skin). I’ve also ordered a peri bottle (the Fridababy Fridet) from the U.S.—those don’t come standard with deliveries here either. I’ll do a post after baby girl arrives with my recommendations on what to bring (or not to bring) to a French hospital for birth.
This week was our busiest week of appointments so far. On Tuesday, we went to the hospital to pre-register. Thankfully, between Matt’s and my broken French and Google Translate helping the woman registering us, we are all set. If you receive French benefits, you can present your social security and health cards. Since we have private insurance, however, we have to bring a credit card and put a €4000 hold on it until we get and pay the final bill (which will likely be less than this if everything goes as planned and I don’t need a C-section).
On both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, we attended our last two birth preparation classes. Wednesday we covered breastfeeding and how to handle any pressure to just do formula (breastfeeding is much less common here than in the U.S.—this article provides some interesting perspective on why). Thursday we practiced “pushing” in the birth position (in French hospitals, it sounds like it’s still most common for women to give birth on their backs). My midwife joked that I could push as hard as I wanted—she’d be okay if she got to deliver my baby in class that day.
Thursday morning, we also had an appointment with the anesthesiologist to ensure I have the option of an epidural. Even before he showed me the needle he’d be inserting into my back, I was already having doubts about whether I’d handle the epidural or pain better.
I’m definitely not opposed to pain medication when necessary, but I rarely take much more than the occasional Tylenol or Ibuprofen for a headache or cramps. When I separated my shoulder a couple of years ago, I was prescribed a stronger pain medication, but only used it one or two times because I hated how it made me feel. The idea of being stuck on my back, not feeling anything below my waist and taking strong medicine on an empty stomach actually sounds worse to me than pushing a big baby out of a small space. I guess only time will tell, though, if I’m screaming for that epidural at 6cm dilated.
So now we’re registered, “trained” and mostly packed for the hospital. The final countdown begins! Feel free to post your prediction on baby’s birthday in the comments below. Winner gets bragging rights and your name in black and white on an upcoming post! With those kinds of rewards, what are you waiting for?