Monday, January 7, 2013

The Obvious Reason

A quick anecdote I've been meaning to share for a few weeks:

Just before Christmas, we shared a delicious raclette dinner at the home of some good friends here in Paris.  Raclette, if you don't know, is a delicious tradition from eastern France/Germany/that area involving melting cheese which gets dripped over potatoes, vegetables, meats, etc.  Like this:
Crummy photo I borrowed from the internet, but that's the cheese melting on the lower level of the raclette maker...

In preparation for the dinner, the American wife says to her French husband, "Should we serve cider with the raclette?" (Cider, of course, meaning hard cider which is probably the principal French drink of choice after wine)  Her French husband looks at her with dismay and says, "Of course not! For the obvious reason."

Thinking that perhaps the obvious reason is that both she and I are currently pregnant, she says, "Right.  But what's the obvious reason?"

Bemused to be educating his non-French spouse, the husband replies, "Because raclette is from the Alps, and cider is from the west.  So we must drink wine from Alps."  If only all obvious reasons were that obvious...

Speaking of things that may or may not be obvious, I acquired this week the packing list for the maternity ward in preparation for Baby Oil #2's arrival (yes, I'll give the baby a separate name upon arrival).  In the US, of course, you would never see such a packing list because most of the items on there are what you are supposed to bring for the baby.  Apparently our new child will not spend the first several days of her life wearing a hospital shirt while swaddled in a hospital blanket.  Oh no.  Not in France.

The packing list includes a separate list for the first day:
  • 1 warm pair of pajamas
  • 1 long-sleeved bodysuit
  • 1 hat
  • 1 wool wrap-around cardigan
  • 1 pair of socks
Just on this section alone I found myself thinking - wool wrap-around cardigan??!!  This is standard baby wear in France?  On the day of birth?  Also, all the pajamas we own for newborns have feet, so what's with the socks? 

For the rest of your stay, you should bring:
  • 5 pairs of pajamas (apparently we no longer care if they are warm or not)
  • 5 bodysuits
  • 1 wool wrap-around cardigan (does this mean 2 total?)
  • 2 hats
  • 1 pair of baby mittens 
  • 1 gigoteuse (padded sleep bag)
  • 1 going home outfit
This is a gigoteuse:

We of course don't own one.  Nor do we have the requisite cardigans, or baby mittens for that matter.  I'm a bit concerned that the nurses are going to mock me and my heathen American ways ("she wants to swaddle her baby?" - insert appropriate French sound of disgust and disdain here!).  I'm also a bit concerned that my baby will be very cold.  It seems as though I should be preparing for a hospital with no heat, despite the fact that the American Hospital of Paris is in fact the most expensive and fanciest hospital in Paris.

I am prepared for a number of other differences from my first birthing experience.  One friend who delivered her son at the same hospital told me that after waiting over an hour in the recovery room to see her son again following a c-section, a nurse came in the room.  "Where's my baby?" my friend asked, anxious to see her first child for more than the few overwhelming moments in the delivery room.  "Oh, he will come," the nurse answered, "but now I am here to help you look nice for your husband."  In other words, the expectation was that my friend should spend a few minutes fixing her hair and/or putting on make-up.  My friend's response was, "Bring me my baby!"  You see, the reasons are often far from obvious to us expats living here in France.

PS Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Oil!!
Yeah, that's right, I made an Elmo cake for his party! American all the way, thank you Duncan Hines!