Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Getting Ready

During the days leading up to Louisa's birth, I had a number of overdue blog entries rattling around in my head. There was one about cheese (perhaps the best culinary aspect of life in France) and one about the brocants (neighborhood yard sales), but heading the list was a post about getting ready for Louisa. I wanted to talk about the incredibly small footed sleepers that my mom and I had collected, about our due date confusions (the French put the due date at 41 weeks while the American due date is at 40 weeks) and the formidable packing list that the hospital gave us (would she really need a wool sweater?). But most of all, I wanted to head off premature excitement by saying that we really weren't expecting Louisa to arrive until well after my American due date of September 28.

What were my reasons for thinking that Louisa would take her time? Well, the most logical of the bunch was that Maria was born ten days after her due date, and she came only after some work on the part of the midwives. Surely, Louisa would be late too. Then there was the fact that I didn't have swollen feet and could still push the stroller up hill to our local grocery store--surely the inertia of late pregnancy was yet to come. But my real reason for thinking that Louisa would be late was denial pure and simple. I just didn't feel ready.

Thank goodness these things have a way of happening in their own time, despite our notions of preparedness! Louisa was born on Sunday, September 25th at 19:51. She weighed 3.52 kg (8 lbs 2 oz) and measured 51 cm (20 in) long. She's a lovely little pip; Our cup of joy runneth over...

I'm going to save Louisa's birth story for my next entry. Right now, I want to share a few pictures from the days leading up to Louisa's arrival.

I began this drawing many weeks back. It's now framed and sitting on a shelf in the nursery. It will probably also be the first drawing in Louisa's baby album. Do you see that it's Maria reading a book to her soon-to-be born baby sister? Maria's favorite toys are listening in. I hope to do a second drawing to pair with this one. Maria has requested that it include a train.

One of the chores of the week before Louisa came was washing all of Maria's 0-3 month clothing, along with all of our new acquisitions for Louisa's layette. In the interest of saving electricity (we don't pay for it, but we don't want to ire our kind landlords), I hung most of it up to dry. Our apartment looked like a gypsy encampment for for a couple of days. There's a special pleasure that comes with hanging such tiny garments, even if it does take up a lot of space.

Vive le brocant!

Our landlord, Roland, (a wonderful character whom I hope to intoduce to you at length) gave us heads up on two brocants happening in our area. Brocants are communal yard sales. They're big events, complete with musical entertainment and fair food. Brocants are especially wonderful because they happen here, in this old country. When people clean out their closets in France, they find the usual modern clutter (novelty mugs and broken toys) but they often also find beautiful, old things: mismatched tea cups, hundred-year old prints, saint medallions left over from a pious aunt. They sell these thing at a brocant table for a couple Euros a piece. After all, space is precious. Turns out that the flea market eclectic look that you find with a hefty price tag at Anthropologie and in the pages of decorating magazines is quite affordable at the brocants.

As are baby clothing. Which is great because we've found that in France, baby clothing is quite expensive. The Carrfour (we think of it as the French Walmart) sells baby sleepers for 10 Euros a piece--pretty hefty when you consider that it will only be worn for a month.

Maria was a summer baby and spent most of her first months in Gerber onesies so we didn't have much in the way of cold-weather clothing for the 0-3M sizes. Furthermore, the hospital gave us a detailed list of what to bring for the baby (it is standard in French hospitals to bring clothing for your baby), and it included 6 sleepers, a wool sweater, a cotton sweater, a hat, bunting, wool socks, and more. The two brocants we visited went a long way in filling the gaps in the hospital list.

But more importantly, the Paliseau brocant, or rather, my intense desire to visit every table at the Paliseau brocant, kept me on my feet for about six hours on Saturday, the 24th. We theorize that it was this unusual exertion that broke my water and brought Louisa into the world the following day.

One last picture:

There are my two loves on the evening before Louisa's birth. Donnie is reading a book on his smart phone---probably the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the same book he would read to me during the early phase of labor. It's wonderful to see how these ordinary moments string together, and bring us to the watershed events of life!

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