A few days after the doctor basically told me I would be on my own language-wise at the hospital, I had an appointment at the hospital with an anesthesiologist. In the States, in most hospitals, if you are attempting a natural delivery but change your mind, you just ask for an epidural and they bring it in. Here, you have to meet with the anesthesiologist ahead of time so they can assess your health and look at your back and clear you for the epidural. I really really don’t want an epidural, but with my kind of luck I will be in labor for 72 hours only to be told I’m only dilated to a 2 or something so I decided to have my bases covered. Also, should an emergency C-section become necessary I would prefer an epidural to general anesthesia so like I said, bases covered.

So I went to the hospital and checked in for my appointment. That part went fine. A nurse took me back to a room to fill out some forms before the actual anesthesiologist. And I could not understand her. At all. She had a weird accent, wouldn’t slow down…it has been a long time since I felt THAT lost. And I could tell she thought I was stupid. She decided I couldn’t speak French at all since I couldn’t understand her, and then thought it was unbelievably ludicrous that I didn’t know my height (“In the United States we use feet and inches,” I tried to explain) or pre-pregnancy weight (“I know in pounds,” I supplied helpfully). Finally she gave up and took me back to the waiting room and complained loudly to the check-in girl that I couldn’t speak French, then she poked her head into the doctor’s office and said there was someone out here who didn’t speak any French, did the doctor speak some English?

Then she came back over to me. The waiting room we were in had 2 smaller waiting rooms branching off it, so 3 waiting rooms of people stared as she stationed her face about 4 inches from mine and yelled slowly (in French), “YOU SIT HERE. DOCTOR SAY YOUR NAME. DOCTOR SPEAK ENGLISH. YOU UNDERSTAND?” Ugh. I wanted to punch her.

The doctor was very nice and happy to practice her English, even though I told her French was fine and I just couldn’t understand the nurse’s accent. I got my forms filled out and left, stewing over the irony that the hospital that just got angry at me for not understanding also got angry at me for requesting the presence of a qualified translator…and hoping I could find someplace to deliver my child that would be a little more humane.

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