By this time I had decided that having a doctor who speaks English wasn’t so important, since he/she wouldn’t be delivering the baby anyway, and so far there were no complications to discuss. Tiffany’s doctor said she could “get by” in English so I figured I would just go to her. Here’s how that played out:

Fifth appointment
I don’t remember anything specifically interesting happening during this appointment, except that I got the distinct impression that this doctor did not like me. Even though we spoke French the entire time. A lot of French people are pretty nice about poor French skills if they can tell you are at least trying, but some are incredibly irritated that you’re not completely fluent and I guess this doctor was the latter. Oh well, I told myself, I only have to see her a few times, I can put up with it. She gave me prescriptions for the glucose test, third trimester ultrasound (which she emphasized had to happen in a tiny window of dates, and which I already had an appointment for anyway), and the first part of a detailed blood test required by the hospital. It is a blood typing test, but is much more detailed than what you would consider your blood type. It looks for all sorts of markers and things, and this particular hospital runs 2 of them before you deliver. I have no idea why.

The glucose test happened in between these appointments but it is deserving of its own post so you get that one next.

Sixth appointment
It was a normal appointment – look over all the test results, scribble notes, take off your pants, exam, and then the part where she writes new prescriptions. I took the opportunity to ask a few questions, like verifying that she would not be delivering the baby unless she was on call (because the doctors were still on hospital strike) and a few other things. Upon Vanina’s recommendation I asked if it would be all right if I had an extra person in the labor/delivery room to translate (hospital policy is only one additional person, like the father of the baby; I naively assumed they would make an exception for someone with limited language skills). She looked at me like I was a moron and asked who would be translating (this is all in French, by the way) and I said an accompagnante périnatale. She continued to look at me like I was an idiot. Who? she asked again. I repeated the French words, feeling very self-conscious about my pronunciation of the word accompagnante, and explained that she helps at births. At this point the “you are a moron” look was accompanied by suspicion. “Who is it?” she asked again. This time I try with Vanina’s name, only I can’t pronounce either her maiden name (a complicated French one) or her married name (a really long German one). She shakes her head, like “I don’t know her,” which is why I wasn’t bothering with a name before, and asks again who it is. I was extremely frustrated at this point – even over the course of two very routine appointments we have had several communication difficulties, so I really cannot understand the hesitation to ensure good communication in a stressful medical situation. So I said, “In English we say doula,” and then everything hit the fan.

Jake told me afterward that Vanina had specifically told us not to use the word doula, but I honestly do not remember her saying that. Which is unfortunate, because it is very scary to be yelled at in a foreign language. In general it is more scary to be yelled at in German than in French, but since this lady may literally hold my life or the life of my kid in her hands it was pretty scary. “NO, NO, NO. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE. ABSOLUTELY NOT. WE DO NOT TOLERATE DOULAS AT [HOSPITAL NAME]. NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.” Then something about insurance, blah blah blah, and I said we would be paying her, not the hospital, and she continued ranting and raving about how it was absolutely forbidden. I tried explaining, in French, that she would not be there to interfere with the hospital or anything, only to translate, and she went on and on about how they hate doulas at that hospital. I said, as firmly as I could with my vocabulary of a 2-year-old, that I was absolutely not comfortable delivering at a hospital that could not ensure its ability to communicate with me nor allow me to ensure such communication, and she was basically like “Too bad.”

So we left, with me nearly in tears (and I do not cry very often at all) and making plans to return to the States.

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