Saturday, January 26, 2013

And Then There Were Four

We came to Paris a family of three, and we are officially now a family of four. 

By the time last Tuesday rolled around, I was so ready to not be pregnant a moment longer that I hadn't spent much time thinking about what this experience would be like in France.  I was reminded that it would be at least somewhat different than Baby Oil's birth on Tuesday afternoon, when my ob called me.

"Allo? Madame Oil?"
"There is a small problem. The anesthesiologist says he has never met you and does not have your dossier.  Did you have an appointment with him?"
"Yes, of course, two weeks ago." (Thinking: "Holy crap if they tell me they are not taking this baby out of me tomorrow, I'm really going to be annoyed")
"Hmm.  Well, can you come to my office this afternoon?  We will work this out?"

So, approximately 5 hours before I'm supposed to check into the hospital, I head over to my doctor's office.  Who had told me two weeks ago specifically, I might add, that there was no need for another appointment with him before the c-section.  When there, he gets on the phone with the anesthesiologist.  Some polite French banter ensues, followed by, "Oui, with a zed."  As it turns out, my first name, spelled with a "z" in the US, is more commonly spelled with an "s" in France.  So despite having my last name and birth date, all of the confusion was caused by a misspelling in my first name. 

I get to the hospital Tuesday night - which all along I had thought was ridiculous because who ever heard of checking in the night before for a planned c-section?  I argued best I could but in the end I had little choice - and after a basic monitoring of the baby, am shown to my room. Here's where the fun begins.  The nurse pulls out a little bottle of Betadine scrub (iodine soap).  I am instructed to take a shower that night using half of the bottle.  Then I will be woken at 6am to take another shower with the other half of the bottle. Apparently they want you to be very clean here.

Then the nurse checked my previous c-section incision area to ensure I was properly waxed.  Her words, not mine.  Apparently I passed muster and therefore was spared the hospital waxing experience. 

Mr. Oil went home, and I slept for a few hours in my hospital bed.  The crying baby next door at 2am ensured I did not forget why I was there (as if that was possible).  Soon enough, it was showtime.   Everything was quite straight-forward, in particular since I had done this once before, though it was a bit disconcerting to listen to the nurses and orderlies exchanging chuckling remarks and not have any idea what they were saying. 

Then our baby girl was born.  All I remember is Mr. Oil saying, "It is a girl, right?" 
Bienvenue, ma cherie!

Let me also talk for a moment about socks.  I was asked to don a pair of anti-embolism socks - you know, the kind you wear for long rides on airplanes if you are old or pregnant or something - before the c-section.  Okay, fine.  I was never told I could take them off, so I left them on the whole first night.  By the next morning, my legs were itchy and uncomfortable.  So I took off the socks.  Even though at this point I was already up and moving around, I was told at least four different times on both Thursday and Friday that I needed to continue wearing the socks.  "It is tres important," two doctors and two nurses told me. 

But I'm an American rebel, and the socks stayed off. 

When I was first brought back to my room after the c-section, I received a lovely sort of sponge bath, which was much appreciated.  Yet my baby still had birth gook in her hair, because they don't bathe babies until day 2.  So I'd basically taken three showers/baths in the past 12 hours, but my poor kid who was just born had to stay somewhat dirty all night. 

You will recall the lengthy packing list I shared with clothes for baby.  Indeed, the nurses quickly asked Mr. Oil for the baby's outfit.  Our selection was found more or less adequate - when I finally saw our daughter after 2 hours in the recovery room, she was wearing:  a long-sleeved onesie, a set of footie pajamas, the requisite cardigan, a hat and a zip-up swaddle. And she was wrapped in a blanket.  Not only this, but apparently the nurses expressed disappointment that we did not have socks for the baby. (We did actually have socks, but Mr. Oil did not know that as they were not in the Ziploc bag labeled "Day 1 Clothes.")  For comparison, please note that Baby Oil spent his first day of life wearing one hospital-provided shirt, a hospital-provided hat and one hospital-provided blanket.

Baby Oil meets Little Sis (who desperately needs a good blog name)
More to come in my next post - baby baths, French hospital food, and more.  For now, rest assured that the baby is warmly dressed and, on day 4, both mom and baby are very, very clean.