This doesn’t really have anything to do with the French medical system; I am just putting it in this category because that’s where all my pregnancy-related stories are going.

Because we work for an American company, Jake & I do not participate in the French social security system. The company provides us with real insurance in the States and “insurance” for while we are here. By “insurance” I mean that we pay out of pocket and then the company reimburses us for expenses, at rates based on the the real insurance (for example, labwork at 100% and office visit at 80%). The important thing to note for this episode is that is is not an actual insurance company or plan; in theory I should be dealing with real live human beings, people with hearts and stuff.

So, we had decided that it was very important to us to have Vanina at the birth so I could focus on, you know, HAVING A BABY and not expending a great deal of energy trying to understand and respond in a different language. And we decided it was important regardless of the cost. However, as our company does in some cases move people to a different country to deliver a baby in order to ensure adequate medical care, we decided to ask if they would be willing to reimburse part or all of the cost of a translator. Because that is a LOT cheaper than flying us to a different country and providing lodging for 4-6 weeks. France in general may have adequate health care but due to language I don’t necessarily have access to it. I sent a nice email asking about this, fully expecting that we would not receive any assistance but hoping I was wrong.

A few days later I got an email back. As expected, our request was denied, but the tone in which it was denied really made me angry. It went something like this:

Unfortunately translation services are not covered by our insurance. But I have an idea! Why don’t you just ask a co-worker who speaks better French to go with you?

And my response was something like this:

Because I will have to be at least partially naked to deliver a child, and neither I nor my co-worker are comfortable with that situation.

As if “asking for help” has never occurred to me. Sheesh. What an idiot. I DO ask a co-worker to go along for things like “My knee hurts” or “The bank refuses to change my address” but you don’t ask your co-worker to attend your child’s birth unless the baby is falling out at work, or maybe if they are a super close friend, like close enough that you are both ok with them seeing you naked for hours on end. Anyway like I said I wasn’t surprised by the “no,” I was just taken aback by the flippant manner in which this particular suggestion was offered. I really don’t expect any medical “complications” or anything but the fact that they COULD happen – I think I know more women who have had emergency C-sections than those who haven’t – and I could, in theory, hold the company legally/financially responsible in that event should maybe inspire them to be a bit more cautious and a bit less tight-fisted.

As an aside, we were informed by someone else (with great sarcasm) that translators were not provided for medical situations because they were just SURE we had adequate language training. Remember how I mentioned we got about 96 hours? Yeah. We barely even covered tenses (like “past” and “future”), much less emergency medical vocabulary. Now if the medical personnel want to discuss vegetables, we won’t have too many problems. But beyond that…well, I need help.

So, at this point I am feeling like both  the country of France and the company I work for do not want me to have this baby and view us as an inconvenience. Which makes me both really hurt and really angry, because I know that this is the cutest and smartest baby in the whole world and hopefully someday I will get the opportunity to say, “IN YOUR FACE.”

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