Drop Your Pants

… see, more pregnancy.  maybe I DO want to write a pregnancy blog.  But I forgot this bit with the last post …

I totally left out the most different part of the prenatal care in France. I guess I got so used to it. While the prenatal care is very similar in both countries, time spent with that doctor is very different.

In America (Seattle specifically), I speak to one sometimes two well-trained, friendly nurses. One escorts me to the little room by first stopping to take my weight, then taking my pulse and blood pressure. She asks me if I have any issues or pain, writes down notes and then hands me a sterile cup and points me to the bathroom. Upon return to my room, a light has been turned on to tell anyone walking by that there is a patient waiting in the room who could be partially naked. A curtain is drawn to guard the door and a little night gown thing and blanket are waiting for you to put on and cover up while you wait and wait and wait for the doctor. The doctor comes along at last, you have a very brief conversation with her/him. Belly measurement is taken. Baby heartbeat is heard. Any questions? She leaves. Then it’s back with the nurse for any follow up. The nurses were great. The doctor was great. The time spent with each is mainly with the nurses.

In France (Southwest specifically), I saw a doctor. The first nurse I met was at the hospital when I went to meet with the anesthesiologist. Even then, she was helping me with the administrative side of the hospital. Other than that, I didn’t meet with a nurse during my regular prenatal appointments. When I meet with my doctor, he sits at his desk and we talk about the pregnancy. He runs through a typical set of questions. He asks if I have any questions or concerns. He writes out a note to go get my blood taken and then we hop over to the little table. He tells me to take my pants off and gets a few things ready for examination. I wait for him to leave the room and look around for my nighty and blanky which aren’t there. He speaks a bit slower this time and repeats his request and waits. Aaaaaah! I get it. You mean like, get undressed now … as in here … as in here and now without the puritan comforts of home. And then laugh at myself and hop on the table. Belly is measured. Blood pressure taken. Baby heartbeat is heard. Then a quick pelvic exam. Yep. Everytime. France has a very low preterm birthrate. They are quick to put you on bed rest if the cervix is seemly overzealous for labor. Then weight is taken, which is more stressful than the pelvic exam. Pants return to their rightful bottom and we finish up at the desk looking at the next time we meet what will occur. The whole experience is comfortable, quick, straightforward and conscientious.

I really like spending the entire nine months talking with the doctor. I appreciate the nurses in America, but there was a high rotation with them. I appreciate the doctor in America, but she hardly saw me and I felt she was in a hurry. This was the biggest difference I noticed in prenatal care between countries. Though I believe for all pregnancies that everyone was interested in my healthy pregnancy. As a patient, I felt working with one person allowed for less things to go unnoticed. And I’ve never really understood the whole song and dance with the curtain and the blanky in America, so this drop-your-pants style of doctor visit is more my type of groove.

Holy Crap! We’re having a baby!

otto hugs

I never planned or had the desire to write up my pregnancy in France explaining how things are different or not different here. And this being my fourth pregnancy, I’ll surely leave out the interesting bits as they are not so interesting the fourth time around. There are women who love being pregnant; I am not one of them. I do love my children and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to make my own people. So when it gets to the last couple of gestate-able weeks (as it now has emerged), I’d like to get on with it and start the three months of zombiedom while the cross-eyed little eating sleeping machine gets to know his or her body outside the womb. But since sitting is what I should try to find time to do, here are a few interesting things I’ve learned while being pregnant in France.

The Fat Test: When you think you might be pregnant and go looking for a stick to pee on, you’ll quickly find “le test de grossesse.” Yet in your condition, your weak grasp on French vocabulary and despite the other clues (ovulation tests, baby bottles) you leave the store empty handed thinking how weird it is that French woman have a test to see if you’re fat.

Toxo: Every month blood is taken and tested for toxoplasmosis. They do this once in America right at the beginning of prenatal care. Here in France, they are hardcore. Every time I visit the OB/GYN, he sends me to get a blood draw. In America, instead of a blood draw, I’d pee in a cup. America was much more focused on gestational diabetes. France does glucose tests occasionally with two fasting-drink-yucky-sugar-wait tests.

Weight Gain: meh. Same recommendation really (around 25 pounds or so). In the first trimester I gained weight rapidly so the doctor told me to stop eating sugar. Which worked like a charm. If my doctors had told me that with my previous three pregnancies, I may have gained less weight. As it went along in America, my weight gain was never mentioned because my blood sugar tests were normal to low. With this baby, my weight gain has been dramatically lower than with the other three pregnancies. The baby, however, is growing about the same, which gives me this basketball under the shirt look I’ve not seen on myself before.

What Not To Eat: Over the last eight years, the diet restrictions for pregnant ladies has grown. The list I received in America for what fish not to eat was so long and confusing that most pregnant ladies don’t eat any fish. And all French food is totally out. With its soft cheeses and fancy deli meat. So what do the French doctors tell the French pregnant ladies? No salad. No cigarettes. No wine (alcohol). So this baby got soft cheeses, dried deli meat (without nitrates) and a lot of foie gras. As an interesting side note, since I didn’t eat much sugar (this includes rice and pasta as they truly are sugars) I skipped a common pregnancy issue of bleeding gums.

Everything else during my pregnancy has been great and very similar to the American prenatal regime. I’ve met with the anesthesiologist and I’m already checked into the hospital. I feel very well looked after. I’ll do a pregnancy part two to see how the end game compares to America. France’s healthcare system is fantastic, so it’ll be interesting to contrast any differences.

brent, alfalfa and me

… I’m totally up for questions!  If there’s anything you’re curious about.

IKEA, A Place Where Pregnant Ladies Lift Heavy Things

bunch a billy


Kevin left today.  It was sad to see him go.  The kids had a great time riding bikes around the farm and getting twirled around and around and around and around.  “Again!Again!”  Minty and Lucy fighting for his attention.  Otto explaining in detail his accomplishments with Lego Star Wars.  Next time we see him we’ll have one more Curtis and some warm weather.

relaxed kevin

The airport drop-off is about an hour and thirty minutes away from our place, but more importantly, it’s right next to Ikea.  I have a love-hate relationship with Ikea.  The first and last time I stepped foot in one was almost twelve years ago when Brent and I bought our first house.  We moved all of our valuable possessions (read shit left over from university) to quickly discover that we had a big house with nowhere to sit.  One long trip through the Ikea maze of consumerism and we were out with a fairly good set up of Snörks and Björks for only a couple thousand dollars.  It took me twelve years to recover from my Ikea trip which presents similar symptoms to that of a Disney induced concussion.


In that twelve years as our incomes grew, we could afford furniture in the same genre that was better built and classically designed.  I’m a big fan of solidly built furniture with wood and / or steel.  Each Ikea piece was slowly replaced.  Then we downsized.  Then we moved to France thinking we’d be all small-European-like, but low and behold we — for reasons we’re still surprising ourselves with – buy a big-arse farmhouse with a lot of land.  As Brent describes it, “the house eats furniture.”  We put all of our furniture, the same furniture that people gave us shit about bringing (oh look at aaaaall that stuff, you have soooo much stuff … ug hello!!?!?! Five and a demi people, people!! Geeeeeez) … it is all here in this house, still so much space and  we have nowhere to put the things.  Thankfully, we have plenty of places to sit.  Houses such as these don’t do built-ins.  No closets.  No shelving.  No Kitchen.  And so, where does one go with a small budget to get the house in order?  A big one, right next to the airport.  Off to Ikea I go with a nest of other pregnant ladies.  I didn’t notice this before, but Ikea is a pregnant lady’s crack habit.  We’re all there satisfying that urge to get things organized quick quick quick!  We help each other lift extremely awkward and heavy objects we’re not supposed to budge onto our cart.  We kindly dodge each other as we manage our large bellies pushing and pulling two chariots one for boxes and the other for little bits and pieces.  After much thinking on this Ikea dealio as well as pounding the floor trying to do and re-do a few f$&cking drawers (do not assemble Ikea with three small children in the house), I’ve found a place for Ikea.  They give good storage.  Shelves.  Benches.  Bathroom and Kitchen furnishings.  Quick to assemble.  No mistakes.  But stay clear of drawers.  It’s not worth it.  Today was bookshelves, which should unpack at least thirty or so book boxes getting us closer to that moved-in feel.  We  have that squatter look at the moment.