Thursday, August 25, 2011

We Want Metric!

Yesterday we had our first appointment at the hospital in Orsay. It all went swimmingly, and reinforced our appreciation for French hospitality!

To give a bit of background: Donnie contacted the hospital more than a week ago to ask what we needed to get started. They said that they would send us a registration package. Well, a week passed and no package arrived. Finally, yesterday morning, Donnie was able to get past the hospital answering system and talk with a person. When this person heard how soon Baby is set to arrive, she cried "Oh la la" and immediately got us an appointment for the afternoon. Donnie heard her laughing as she made the arrangements. We've been terribly nervous about jumping into French healthcare so late in the pregnancy, and it was welcome to hear laughter instead of scolding (or, worse yet, a refusal to take us)!

We arrived at the hospital not sure what would be in store. We knew we had to get registered, which consisted of giving a clerk our contact information and telling her that we're not yet signed up for social security. She didn't make any fuss about this, which was a great relief.

Then it was off to the maternity ward where we met the cheerful secretary who was undoubtedly the one who was laughing while making us our appointment. She was very patient and explained things slowly and threw in a bit of English where she could. She also arranged a Monday appointment to meet an anesthetist (it's standard to meet with an anesthetist whether or not you want a natural birth--they want to make sure they can give you an epidural if they need to). At this point, we began to walk out, thinking we had finished our mission--luckily, the secretary saw us,and asked where we were going. Not only was this a registration appointment, but I'd get to see a doctor as well.

Our doctor was actually an intern and looked about 18 years old to me, but she was perfectly professional, friendly and again, very patient. She had a mobile, expressive face--a kind of face that seems more common in France. We went through the file that Magee had given us and translated the information into our new Orsay file. The doctor understood some English and invited me to speak English to her. She even apologized that her English wasn't better! The process took quite a while--I don't think I've ever had a doctor spend that much time with me! It turned out that the conversion to metric was a bit of a stumbling block. We couldn't remember the conversion of feet to centimeters and were pretty iffy on the pounds to kilogram conversion. Our new smart phones weren't much help because we didn't have reception. Finally, we arrived at some numbers that seemed right and the doctor made arrangements for me to get some blood work done and a third ultrasound to determine the baby's weight and size. Then there was the examination, which we went very smoothly with only a few translation hiccups. The great news is that Louisa is head down and all appears to be well.

After the appointment, giddy with relief, Donnie and I went to the grocery store and bought beer and juice to celebrate.

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