As previously mentioned, Asher had jaundice and so when we left the hospital, we were instructed to take him in for a blood test when he was 15 days old. Since he was born at a hospital in a neighboring town, the hospital we went to for the blood test was a different one, one in Marseille, supposedly the best baby hospital in the region.

We showed up at our appointed time and finally they called me & Asher to the room. Jake was not able to go with us because he was at the bank, trying to iron out some “issues” that arose when our “insurance” wired money to us to pay for Asher’s birth, as in the bank decided we were laundering money and froze our account. So I took the unsuspecting little guy back to the room. The 2 nurses were baby blood-taking specialists and they got us situated. One nurse scoffed at the little vial they had been supplied with and sent the second nurse out to get a larger one. Once they were satisfied that the equipment was acceptable, they took Asher’s blood from his hand. He was a little trooper and didn’t even cry. I didn’t either so I am a trooper too. They told me the results would be in later that afternoon.

I went back a few days later to pick up the results (obviously I was not in a particular hurry). He wasn’t orange any more so I was fairly certain his bilirubin levels were in the normal range. I took a number in the waiting room and waited half an hour or whatever and finally they called my number. I went up to the desk and the conversation went something like this:

me: I am here to get the test results.
lady: for whom?
me: well my son, but the test was done under my name.
lady: why?
me: because he was 15 days old and that’s what you guys told me to do.
lady: hmmmm…I do not have any results for you. You came back too early.
me: they said the results would be here Tuesday afternoon, and it’s Friday.
lady: hmmm…I do not have any results under your son’s name either. Come back later.
me: no, they said the results would be back Tuesday.
lady: let me call someone.
lady (on phone): Yes, there is a lady here for test results for her baby, they are not here but she is a foreigner and she doesn’t understand French and she doesn’t understand when I say to leave and come back later. (pause) oh? OK, I will tell her.
lady: the results are not back because there was not enough blood.
me (interrupting): what do you mean not enough blood? They took plenty.
lady: no, there was not enough blood for the tests so you need to bring your baby back to take more blood.
me (firmly): I am not doing that.
lady: You must bring him back. Jaundice can be very serious, it is important to test, it is very important.
me: I understand. But I’m not bringing him back.

She kept trying to impress upon me the gravity of the situation, the terrible things that can happen if jaundice isn’t properly treated, etc. etc. I didn’t respond much, except to be VERY firm about the fact that I was not bringing him back. I knew exactly what I wanted to say in English, exactly how I would respond to the situation if I was in America or really any English-speaking place, but my little 2-year-old vocabulary was not up to the task in French. I wanted to say

  1. if it is so serious, why on earth didn’t you call me on Tuesday?
  2. I DID understand what you said about me on the phone, you rude woman, and
  3. why on earth would I bring my baby for a return visit to a lab staffed with incompetent people? I know they’re incompetent because 1. the baby blood experts took his blood so 2. they are very familiar with how much to take for jaundice testing and 3. they went to extra effort to make sure they took enough which means 4. someone in the testing part of the lab spilled or lost my child’s blood.
  4. By the way, he’s not orange or yellow any more so this was basically a formality anyway. At which you are incompetent.

In English I may have peppered this diatribe with a few expletives, but my French wasn’t up to the tirade even without them. My language partners took great care to teach me “real” French and I therefore know no foul words in the language. Which made me very sad at this moment. All I could do was firmly repeat, over and over, that I would not be bringing my baby back, my poor little baby with the bruised hand. I was furious that they lost my baby’s blood and then lied about it…and so, so frustrated that I couldn’t tell off the stupid woman at the desk.

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