adventures in the french medical system


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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(My apologies for the scattered feel of this post…I have kept it in my drafts folder for a long time but don’t really know how to smooth it out so here you go.)

In France you stay in the hospital a loooong time after your baby is born, like 5 days or so. They wait until the baby has started gaining weight back to release you. Asher was born on a Sunday and we went home Thursday morning.

But before that happy moment, on Wednesday morning my cute little boy was tentatively diagnosed with jaundice. I say “tentatively” because they decided to treat him before they got the test results back, so he may not have even needed treatment immediately. I didn’t disagree with the diagnosis; my blood type and Jake’s blood type tend to produce jaundice-prone babies so it wasn’t at all surprising. Plus, he was kinda orange. The pediatrician took my baby to have blood taken. I asked if Jake could go with him and the doctor said that would be fine, as long as he wasn’t going to be emotional about it. Jake confirmed he would be fine and went down the hall with the doctor and our son, only to return shortly sans baby. He said the blood-takers wouldn’t let him in even though the doctor tried 3 times to convince them it was ok. I was furious…especially when I heard my baby screaming from all the way down the hall.

The pediatrician returned in the late morning or early afternoon to say Asher needed to go under the blue light, even though they didn’t have test results back yet. I just wanted them to let me try sitting with him in the good ol’ natural sunlight before putting him under a UV lamp. However, French doctors are accustomed to being considered omniscient and don’t take kindly to being questioned about alternatives to their suggestions, so to the UV lamp he went. Keep in mind that we hadn’t been apart AT ALL yet in his young life (he stayed in the room with us) so I was apprehensive about him being in an incubator all afternoon. It’s for his good, I kept telling myself. I carried him down to the nursery and placed him in the incubator, after asking if I could stay with him and maybe even touch him now and then. The nurse – this was by far the BEST nurse/midwife we had the whole time, she was so nice to us – placed the little sunglasses on his head…and all hell broke loose. He had, more or less, been asleep since he was born (another jaundice symptom) so everything had been pretty calm, except for baths and when they took blood. However, he hated having those little sunglasses on his head, and he let us know. Kicking…screaming…flailing…screaming…it was horrible to witness. The nurse left us with him and I burst into tears.

Now, I do not, as a general rule, cry. A few tears every few years or so is about it. But seeing my tiny baby (well, he wasn’t really tiny, but he looked it in that incubator) so utterly miserable just broke my heart. Alarmed, Jake asked me if I was ok. It only took about 10 seconds for me to start laughing at myself but I was still crying too so it went something like this:

Jake (alarmed): Are you ok? Do you need a hug?
me (wailing; great, racking sobs): Y-y-yes!! (sob, sob, sniffle, sniffle) I kn-know jaundice isn’t (sniff) serious, and I kn-know is isn’t a big deal (sniff), but he just looks so miserable in there. (sniff, sniff)
me (laughing and crying simultaneously): This is ridiculous! They aren’t kidding about these postpartum hormones.

I stayed with Asher most of the afternoon, during which they informed me that, instead of spending the afternoon under the blue light like they originally said, he would need to stay all night. “We’ll bring him to you to eat,” the nice nurse said. I could tell she felt really bad for me. She asked me if I was lonely, living in a foreign country. I was so sad he had to stay in the nursery but knew he needed the treatment.

Back up: Asher never really calmed down from being so upset at being placed in the incubator. Two reasons: one, the sunglasses; and two, it was REALLY hot in there, and he is hot-natured to begin with. I am not exaggerating – he started sweating shortly after birth, and the incubator was set at about 102 degrees. The baby nurses said they wanted to give him water to calm him down. All the breastfeeding experts say “DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW HOSPITAL PERSONNEL TO GIVE YOUR BABY WATER” so I didn’t want them to give him water. I asked how on earth water was supposed to calm him down. They said it would make him fuller, or something, I couldn’t really understand. I refused the water “treatment.” I said if they had something for gas they could give that to him, in case that was part of the problem, so she found some sort of “medicine.” It sounded similar to gripe water so I said that was fine. She gave him some of that and he calmed down at first but then went right back to screaming. Another nurse came in and checked the temperature and said it was too hot for him, because he had a normal temperature in just a “body” (onesie). (They don’t consider onesies clothes. Onesies are like undershirts. “Where are his REAL clothes?” they kept asking me.) So she turned it down a bit. This nurse kept sneaking in during the afternoon and turning the temperature down bit by bit until it was more comfortable for him.

Meanwhile, various baby nurses kept coming to me and saying, “Your baby is very agitated. We need to give him water to calm him down.” Eventually he calmed down and slept. I kept trying to nurse him but he just slept and slept; nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could wake him up. 3 hours passed, then 4…at 6 hours the nurses said if he hadn’t eaten within an hour, they would HAVE to give him water so he wouldn’t dehydrate. Plus, the doctor and nurses had now switched to “Your baby needs to eat every 3 hours so he can pee and get rid of the jaundice.” (Later, Jake told me one of the nurses came and asked him to sign a waiver for some calming medicine they had already given Asher…apparently a few nurses had administered doses of this stuff without consulting each other so they had OD’ed him or something. He refused to sign it and she got very concerned.) I was near tears again, this time because my baby just would not wake up to eat and I knew he had to be hungry. I took him from the incubator back to our room. We turned on the lights and the air conditioning. I put a cold washcloth on him and turned on my workout playlist of peppy music. Jake lifted him up and down, up and down. Finally, he woke up a little, just a little, but it was enough to get him latched on. He ate for a mere 15 minutes before crashing again. The doctor came in as we were trying to wake him up again and insisted we return him to the blue light for his treatment.

That was at 10 or so at night. I set my alarm for 1am because both of my “how to breastfeed” books, and the doctor, said it was extremely important for jaundiced babies to eat at least every 3 hours and got a bit of sleep. At 1 my alarm went off and I marched down to the nursery, where I was met by a night nurse blocking the doorway. I smiled politely and informed her I was there to retrieve my baby for feeding.

mean nurse: He’s sleeping.
me: I know that. But he is supposed to eat every 3 hours, which is now.
mean nurse: Well he is sleeping. He needs his sleep.
me (deep breath): Yes, but he needs to eat every 3 hours. Which is now. I need to wake him up to feed him.
mean nurse: We’ll bring him to you when he wakes up.
me: he may not wake up to eat. Today he slept for almost 7 hours. The doctor told me to feed him every 3 hours.
mean nurse: Maybe another hour. If he’s not awake by then you can come get him.
me (getting furious that she is holding my child hostage, deep breaths to stay calm): No. The doctor told me it is VERY important for my baby to eat every 3 hours. I want my baby now.
mean nurse (falsely sweet smile): We are the night nurses, it is our job to bring you your baby when he wakes up. We will bring him to you in an hour.
me: GIVE ME MY BABY NOW.
mean nurse: No.

I had to exercise every ounce of self-restraint I have ever possessed to not punch her in the face. I seriously wanted to beat her. Another nurse came over and, after listening to my very patient explanation that Asher needed to eat every 3 hours, whether or not he was awake, said she would bring him to me after dropping off another baby to his/her mom. I triumphantly went back to my room, turned on the lights, and waited in the doorway. The nurse walked back down the hall and I just knew it would be any minute. 10 minutes passed, then 15. I peered down the hallway and was dismayed to see all the night baby nurses sitting down in their office, talking and laughing. I continued to wait in the doorway and glare angrily at any of them who happened to walk down the hall. The midwife assigned to take care of the moms walked past and asked what I was waiting on. I told her my baby was under the blue light, supposed to eat every 3 hours, and a long time ago a nurse said she would bring him to me but she didn’t. She said she would get him for me. I kept waiting. Finally, an hour after I had visited the nursery, the first nurse brought Asher to me. She held him out to me, gloating. “He woke up!” she said. I eyed my newborn, still 90% asleep, and knew she was lying and just wanted to lord her “authority” over me. In retaliation I kept him several extra minutes for some snuggling.

I didn’t set my alarm any more because I knew it would be useless. They brought him to me another time or 2 that night, each time looking like he was only partially awake because they woke him…and each time I kept him an extra few minutes. (A moment of genuine triumph: taking my baby down to the nursery and seeing the mean nurse asleep at her desk. I just stood there, holding my baby, waiting on her to wake up.) Finally, after his first “morning” feeding, I reluctantly returned him to the nursery (now with the nice day nurses) and they said I could keep him!!

That was the day we got to go home. Asher’s color was better and he had gained a tiny amount of weight (good thing I fed him right before the weigh-in…) so they said they were waiting on test results and if they were ok we could go home. No one, out of all the personnel who came to our room to check on various things, could tell us when those results would be ready. Jake went to the front desk and paid our bill and was told we were free to go…so, we packed up as quickly as we could and snuck out.

I’m skipping over my final doctor appointment (here, you just keep going once a month – no every other week and then weekly stuff) because nothing important happened, except that we were still floored by how nice that doctor was. And I’m skipping the birth, because that’s personal and this is the internet and you can send me an email if you want to read that.

I will point out here, for anyone interested, that the hospital provides only its facilities here. In the States, when you go to the hospital to have a baby, you pretty much just have to bring “you” stuff. Shampoo, going home outfit for baby, clothes unless you prefer to wear a hospital gown all the time, that sort of thing. You don’t have to worry about diapers or baby things because you get all that at the hospital, and since your insurance pays for it you get to take home a carload of diapers and all the nasal aspirators you can swipe. Here, you have to bring ALLLLLLLLLL that stuff because they give you nothing but a bed. Plus they make you stay the 4 or 5 days until the baby starts gaining weight, so since Jake was staying with me, we had to pack for all 3 of us for a week. Ugh.

So. Asher was born in the morning, at 11:10 per the clock although they put 11:09 on all the papers. That evening I decided to take a shower so I collected my travel-size bottles and headed to the bathroom. The shower was albergue-style, by which I mean “a tiny square in the corner with curtains around it, showerhead at the top and drain at the bottom.” I closed the curtains, showered, and turned the water off. When I opened the curtains, to my surprise I found water all over the floor of the bathroom. “The curtain must not have been touching the wall all the way,” I thought anxiously. I wondered how on earth I was we were supposed to clean it up – as the hospital provided no towels, Jake & I had each brought only our Camino packtowels. And, aside from not being able to soak up large amounts of water with packtowels, you don’t want to use your only towel for the week to clean a hospital floor.

I told Jake what had happened and said I was going to ask for some towels to clean it up. Then I realized I don’t know the French word for “towel.” Jake said he thought it was the same word for “napkin,” so I left to request a large napkin. I opened the door to the room…and stepped into about a half inch of standing water. I looked down and was utterly horrified to discover that a small stream of water from my bathroom floor had leaked under the door and had now flooded the entire reception area of the maternity ward. I slunk back into the room and informed Jake, miserably, about the upgrade in situation severity. Head hung in shame, I turned to leave again…when Jake offered to go for me. What a relief!

Jake returned empty-handed and said the midwives (basically fancy L&D nurses) said they would take care of it. He watched through the open door (I was hiding around the corner) as one midwife appeared with a small sheet. She eyed the “puddle,” which was quite a bit larger than she was apparently anticipating, dropped the little sheet in the middle of the small lake and deflated as she realized that would hardly make a dent in the problem. She left and returned with a mop bucket and a few more sheets, laying them on the water and picking them up in succession, wringing them out in the bucket and replacing them with a plop!

A hospital guy walked by and asked the midwife what on earth happened. She looked up at him and said with a shrug, “Madame Brown took a shower.” “Oh, ” he said, as if that explained everything, and continued on his way.

We returned from Italy – 2 glorious weeks spent eating pizza and gelato and seeing the sorts of beautiful things that enrich your soul – and had a day to recover before my first appointment with my new doctor. The second new doctor. Or so I thought.

See, when I called to ask if he would be willing to allow me a whopping TWO people (husband and translator) in the delivery room instead of the one typically allowed, in my elation I just agreed to the first appointment proposed by the secretary. I repeated the day, date, and time several times to make sure I had it right. Afterwards I realized that due to the distance to/from the doctor’s office the appointment conflicted with work. So, I called the next day to change it.

The doctor works in an office with a handful of other doctors of various specialties. There are a few front-desk secretaries and then each doctor has his/her own secretary. The secretary I spoke to was the doctor’s specific secretary, due to my unusual question. However, when I called back to change the appointment, of course I got a front desk secretary.

(in French)
me: I called yesterday to make an appointment with Dr. ___ but I need to change it.
secretary: what’s your name?
me: Suzanne ___
secretary: when is it?
me: Wednesday the 21st at 9:45.
secretary: you don’t have an appointment then.
me: yes I do, I made it yesterday.
secretary: no, you don’t.
(back and forth like this several times)
secretary: I can make you an appointment for then.
me: I don’t want the appointment then, I was calling to change it.
secretary: your appointment is for Tuesday the 20th at 11:45.
me: uh…ok. Tuesday the 20th at 11:45?
secretary: yes. (in a “you idiot” sort of voice)

Here I would like to give kudos to the doctor’s secretary for being easy to understand on the phone. This other lady was really difficult to understand but I thought I got it.

So, after having poor Tiffany re-arrange her schedule to drive me, we head out to Vitrolles, which is a little town outside Marseille. First, the office doesn’t have a real address so our driving directions from Google didn’t work at all. We ended up in some random neighborhood. After calling the office to get some additional directions, which were still vague, we were off again…but I should mention that, because Tiffany pretended to be me on the phone in order to get the directions, the secretary said I did not have an appointment on Tuesday the 20th at 11:45, my appointment was Wednesday the 21st at 9:45. I decided to go to the office anyway on the off chance they could squeeze me in. Also, I was FUMING about the mix-up, which I – to this day – sincerely believe was NOT my fault.

So, I marched into the office and confronted the front desk secretary. I explained, to the best of my ability, that I made an appointment for Wednesday but I called to change it, and she said I didn’t have that appointment and made me one for Tuesday and could the doctor please go ahead and see me since I was here. She was basically like “I don’t care, and no.” So poor Tiffany had to re-re-arrange her schedule to drive us back out there the next day for the appointment I thought I had but was told I didn’t so cancelled and then told I did have. The doctor was so, so nice and understanding and complimented my French but said he completely understood why I would want a translator, so silly that all the other doctors made a big deal about it. Jake & I both really liked him and wished we had found him at the beginning.

And, despite 2 weeks of almost nothing besides pizza, gelato, and a few pasta dishes, I lost .3 kilo.

The episode with the new doctor, the nurse at the hospital, and the “insurance” issue all happened in a space of 3 or 4 days; combined, I decided that delivering at the hospital I was registered with, with the new doctor, was not an option. I had my next appointment with the new doctor set up, about a week after we got back from Italy, so I decided that our worst case scenario plan would be: go to Italy, come back, have a week to pack up as much as possible, go to the appointment and get a letter clearing me to fly, and leave that evening or the next day. In the meantime, I would try to cobble together a Plan A in the week before we left for Italy.

I emailed Vanina to let her know it did not go so well with the doctor and ask if she had any ideas or recommendations. She said she wasn’t really surprised and mentioned that I might want to check with a clinic in a small town nearby, where she knows the lady who runs the labor/delivery department. I had actually run across this clinic in my initial search to find an English-speaking doctor (not because they speak English there but because they seem fairly supportive of natural birth, which is my preference but apparently not very common in France) but decided against it due to distance. However, knowing that labor often lasts hours and hours, I decided a 30-minute drive was not too bad if they were at least nice.

I called the lady who knows Vanina in order to ask if it would be possible to have both Vanina AND my husband in the room at the same time, and let me preface this by saying that trying to do something important in a different language is stressful enough when you are face-to-face, but on the phone such a conversation can send your blood pressure sky high. It is much, much more difficult to understand when you are lacking gestures, facial expression, lip reading, and context clues. Anyway so I call this lady and she tells me (I think) that I will need to have written authorization from my doctor to have an extra person in the birth room. So, Tiffany drove me out to the hospital so I could register there. And, while at the previous hospital they acted like they were just barely able to squeeze me in at 7 weeks along, at this one they just wrote down my information and I was all good to go…at 7 months. The ladies at the front desk of the maternity ward were super, super nice. They showed me pictures of the rooms, asked if I had any questions, Tiffany translated the questions I didn’t know how to ask, and they answered all my questions to my satisfaction. They seemed pretty laid-back about some certain things that were important to me, and told me my accent was “cute.” So after my previous experiences at the other hospital I started to feel A LOT better about childbirth in a foreign country.

After registering, I had to set about the business of finding a new doctor. Because the lady who runs the maternity ward specifically said I would need written approval from my doctor, I decided that willingness to write such a note was the sole qualification necessary to be my new doctor. I took the list from the hospital of doctors who deliver there and began to call around. Keep in mind that making phone calls in French is very, very stressful for me.

After talking to a few secretaries, the best response I had received so far was that it was fine to have 2 people, they would just have to trade out so that only one was with me at a time. I called the next name on the list and asked my question…and the secretary said she would go ask the doctor. This is a good sign, I thought, as I listened to the hold music. She came back and said the doctor said that wouldn’t be a problem. HOORAY!!! So I made an appointment with my new doctor. I repeated the date, the time, everything, and she confirmed. And I was free to go on vacation and actually enjoy it, with no worries about the baby or hospital or doctor to cloud my enjoyment of Italy.

So, I had my baby, in a foreign country. Which is why I haven’t been online much. That, plus our internet box and my computer apparently had some sort of feud and stopped talking to each other so I had to sneak onto Jake’s in between feedings and when he wasn’t using it. And never fear, I will continue my fascinating series on pregnancy in the French medical system and will write all about my overly long stay in a French hospital. Until then, here’s a recent hodgepodge of what I’ve been thinking about:

Within the space of a week:

  • my American debit card number was stolen and therefore cancelled (thereby greatly reducing our access to that account
  • our “insurance” decided they wouldn’t be able to wire money to our French account to pay the hospital bill, despite me telling them we did not have enough money in the French account to pay and would not be able to use an American card to pay (European cards have a chip that American ones don’t)
  • I had a baby and therefore needed to pay a hospital bill
  • “insurance” figured out a way to wire money to us
  • the wire raised some sort of red flag and the French bank froze our account

So, we ended up paying for our kid with a check that didn’t technically have funds to cover it. But thankfully we were able to get the account unfrozen before the check cleared so it all worked out.

The way you feel about your child is far too profound to capture in words. But I will say that Asher makes me so, so happy. The fact that he exists is something I’m enormously proud of and a source of great joy. I’m just so pleased with him.

And, I have come to realize over the past few weeks that the human race owes its continued existence to the fact that women are a tough, stubborn lot. Suffice it to say that delivery didn’t go the way I would have chosen and 6 weeks later I can sit for short amounts of time without a donut, as long as it’s a cushy surface. Suddenly people are coming out of the woodwork: “I used a donut for 8 weeks!” “I had mastitis 4 times and thrush 9 times!” and the thing is, every single one of them – us – would say, without hesitation, it was worth it, that the same and worse would be suffered if necessary to bear and feed a child.

I was really glad my belle-mere was going to be coming for the baby…but when you throw in a recovery that has been much, MUCH longer and more difficult than I ever imagined, her presence was a huge blessing. I had three-and-a-half weeks where I didn’t have to wash a dish or cook and could just focus on healing and learning how to nurse and otherwise be a mom. It occurred to me that if such help was more common, postpartum depression would probably not exist, or at least would be far more rare. I read an article once by an Orthodox Christian woman who said that, in their belief system, a woman should have 40 days after childbirth to rest, heal, and bond with her baby. So the other women in her church community bring dinners and help with cleaning and chide her for doing too much, if she is, so she can just sit around and snuggle her baby. Being taken care of makes it far more difficult to feel overwhelmed.

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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