Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Parisian Pregnancy

So here's the skinny on pregnancy in Paris:  it's not quite as glamorous as you might think.

On the one hand, there are fresh croissants, incredible pastries, delectable chocolates.  On the other hand, there is a major lack of pants.  Allow me to explain.  When you go to to the obstetrician in the United States, you put on a hospital gown or at least you are covered with a drape from the waist down.  When you go to the obstetrician in France, he says, "Take your pants off."  At which point you go around a screen, take everything off from the waist down, and then you casually walk over to the examining table feeling really exposed, and then you sit there, half-naked while the doctor examines you.

I thought I was getting used to it, but today at my regular monthly appointment, I realized that I still am not quite down with France's comfort level with my nakedness.  I miss the drape.  And if you think it feels strange when it is just the doctor and me, imagine our appointment for the 12 week ultrasound - ultrasound technician, Mr. Oil, and me.  Half-naked me, of course.  At one point, I tried to ask a question of the ultrasound lady (who only speaks French), and Mr. Oil corrected my conjugation.  I replied, "I'm lying here with no pants on, and you expect me to conjugate verbs correctly?"  We both started laughing, and the French ultrasound lady was simply confused.

The French health care system prides itself on economic efficiency, among other things.  This manifests itself by requiring the patient to trek to multiple places for various types of appointments - one office to see the ob, a separately run lab every month for blood and other tests, and a third separate office for ultrasounds.  In between, the patient is supposed to cart around any number of papers and forms between offices.  I still haven't quite mastered the system - although I do now have a bright blue folder that I labeled "C**** - Pregnancy", in case there was any confusion in our home of course - as evidenced by the gentle reminder from my doctor today that I'm supposed to go to the lab before I come to see him each month so that he has the results for the appointment.

And while I'm very happy with my French ob (he speaks English, in case you are curious), we did have a slight culture clash about the amount of weight I'm "allowed" to gain in this pregnancy.  I'm the first to admit that I gained way more than necessary when carrying Baby Oil.  Like, a lot of chocolate pudding, bagels & cream cheese, and Chipotle more than necessary.  That said, it all came off pretty easily so I am not overly concerned.  However, when I informed my ob as to how many pounds I gained with Baby Oil (you'll notice I'm carefully not writing the number here), his jaw literally dropped.  Seriously.  His mouth was gaping open.  He then informed me that I will not gain more than 12 kilos (26 pounds) in this pregnancy. Ha!! Is he going to pry the cheese from my bloated hands?

I am not going to down play the apprehension I feel at times about having a baby in a foreign country. We were so unbelievably fortunate when we had Baby Oil in DC to have family close by, and also to have a large and wonderful support network of friends and community members. Good thing we've gotten good at ordering delivery!