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Doctors and babies

February 18, 2010

I have never been pregnant in the States. Besides the information that my friends have given me as to their experience of being pregnant and giving birth in my home country I have no idea what it is like. I don’t know if it is really that much different than in Europe. I just don’t know. What I do know is that there are subtle differences between France and Spain, at least in what my two pregnancies can tell me.

Yesterday we went to the doctor. It was the first time I used, along with Queenie, the metro in Toulouse. As the hours ticked by, then the minutes I had to muster m courage. Why? It’s a former shy person thing. When I lived in Chicago at age 19 I used to be to embarrassed to ring the bus call button letting the driver know I wanted to get off. I just got off at whatever stop someone else had requested. Dumb, I know. I can see that. And I knew that then, but I couldn’t do much about it. as a consequence I ended up walking a lot more than I should have needed to. I told myself that walking was good and I had no reason not to do it….but that was just me feeding my timidness.

In Madrid I was introduced to the Metro by my husband while visiting years ago so it was no big deal to get on there. I knew where to buy the tickets, I knew what the machine was telling me and if anyone stopped me I understood what they were saying. But here, things are different. Well, not to different as I found out. I bought the ticket with little effort and passed through the gate at the handicap/stroller area. What I am not sure of is if I need to pay for Queenie. I only paid once and passed both of us by. Since there is no one manning the post I couldn’t ask and just did it. Still wondering if I need to pay…..

So, at 28 my shyness has almost dissipated to nothing. I can now ride the metro in Toulouse. Next will be the buses!

But on to the docs….

The waiting time to see the OB is almost unbearable. Worse than Spain, I would say. No, no it is definitely worse. We waited almost an hour to get in. And we finally just walked in because no receptionist or nurse was working for him that day, so no one called anyone. Actually, he came out to tell one girl she could go through, but when she came out he didn’t follow. Another couple who had been there longer walked back. So we decided we would just walk back once that couple came out. I have no idea who was suppose to go first. No one does, I guess.

Here they cannot do a consult and an ultrasound in the same meeting. I think there are two reasons for this: time and money. Isn’t that always the case? Time because it would set them back even more than they always are and money because contrary to what people think health care in France is not free. The French pay out the whazoo in taxes for health care PLUS they pay 1/3 of the cost of each visit. The cost depends on the specifics of each visit. At the moment we are paying a higher cost because we don’t yet have our social health care card. Instead they give us a recipe so that we can be reimbursed later. (74 Euro for an ultrasound, 35 Euro for a consult).

This visit was the 32 week ultrasound, even though I am already 33 weeks. As my doc is super nice he took his time and showed us everything that he was looking at. This doesn’t happen in the public system in Spain. There is only one screen in the public system in Spain for the doc to look at. You just stare straight ahead. But, then, you don’t have to wait as long for appointments in Spain…. Of course in Spain they always tell you whether things look good or not and answer your questions, but here it is more personable. That might have to do with this paying system which create competition between the doctors. I could switch docs if I wanted to here, in Spain you can’t. You have to stick with the one that you are assigned.

But yesterday the doc took his time and showed us. He has two screens, one for the mom and dad and one for him. He showed us her lips and nose, showing there was no cleft pallet, her femur, her spine, her brain, her stomach, her kidneys, her pelvis, the fact that she is still a girl and not likely to grow a penis :), her profile, the fact that she had turned and her head was down, etc. Super cool. I loved it. Then he printed it all off! That doesn’t happen in Spain either. You have to remember to ask for a print off in Spain and half the time they print off whatever picture that is hard to see anything in. Here I received two sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper with all the pictures that show she is  parfait, (perfect) as the doc said. The only picture that isn’t on there is the one that shows that my cervix is still closed, but then, who needs that picture? Just the reassurance that it is closed is enough. No risk of premature birth!

The difference that I was most surprised about was just that, the showing me of my cervix instead of doing an internal exam. In Spain they would have done an internal at this point and they start monitering of the baby in about three weeks. My doc here doesn’t. Unless there is as risk that he sees earlier he doesn’t do any type of monitering until the 38th or 39th week. Since he couldn’t do a consult he wasn’t really allowed to talk to me about the next few weeks and what is going to happen. Next time, he said, we’ll talk. Okay……

So I am still in the dark on quite a few things as far as giving birth in France goes. I still need to talk to him about my birth plan (no epidural unless needed, talk about how it was needed for Queenie, what my options are, telling him I want him and his team to talk to me and tell me if there are complications happening as communication didn’t happen with Queenie which almost led to a C-section, etc), I want to ask how many days I will be admitted, if Queenie is allowed to visit, if the baby can stay with me in the room, what happens after birth as far as appointments go, are the rooms private, etc. I still don’t know any of this stuff. I don’t know if Principe is invited into the birthing area or not. If he is allowed in during a c-section or not. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I don’t know what is provided by the hospital (I have heard that NOTHING is provided, but just to make sure). And apparently I won’t know for anther 10 days. It is odd to me that he doesn’t have handouts to give me on the structure of all of this. Spain does. Even if it is your 8th baby, they still give you all the handouts about these little questions and such for you to know.

Oh, well, a little mystery is always fun!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2010 10:04 am

    I’m glad your doc is nice. I can’t really tell you as I’ve never had a baby in France and would probably be as clueless. I think that the rooms are private, the baby stays with you and men are allowed in the birthing area. I can ask a friend who recently had a baby in France if you want. For the metro, children only start paying from age 4 (I double checked on their website, so I’m 100% sure). X

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      February 19, 2010 11:47 pm

      Thanks so much! Wish you were here to give me some French lessons! You should hear me try to speak! The great thing is that the French are super nice about it and very patient…Nothing at all like their reputation around the world! I have only encountered people trying to help me even more. In Madrid it is from age 4 also…so that is what I was pretty much going by, but it is wonderful to know that I am not breaking the rules!

  2. Ciara permalink
    February 22, 2010 12:22 am

    I just stumbled on your blog via…oops – I can’t remember.
    Anyway – have had two babies in france and one of my closet friends is a midwife here so if i can be of any help – mail me!

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      February 22, 2010 2:43 pm

      Thanks so much for offering to help! It’s too bad your friend doesn’t live in Toulouse! My doc asked me the other day if I wanted to go to midwife classes to remind myself how to breathe during labor and I so would, except with Principe coming home after 7pm every night I’m not sure how to do it! Anyway, do you live in France now? Was your experience good? I’m not actually worried about giving birth here, just curious I guess. It would be wonderful to hear about your experience!

  3. Ciara permalink
    February 22, 2010 7:58 pm

    Been in france for over 10 years now, living in the Limousin region. My daughter was born in Aix en Provence – 7yrs ago, and my son in Brive la Gaillarde 4yrs ago.
    Both experiances were more or less good – besides the fact that i ended up having 2 c-sections.
    Did traditional classes with an independant midwife for my first and yoga classes in the maternity clinic for my second – the twice weekly yoga was wonderful and a real help during labour. All sorts of classes are available and covered by the system – swimming, yoga, sophrology, traditional….
    Rules etc. seem to vary very much between diff hospitals/cliniques. Hubby didn’t get to stay for sections as they were both emergency, but was with me right up until i went into theater and met babies straight away and he did get to stay over the first night (as i had a private room).
    You should be able to visit the maternity and ask all the questions you want – and most importantly meet the midwives who can explain to you their system. In general they will fill you in on a lot more stuff that the docs!

    My midwife friend does the most amazing stuff – hypnosis, reflexology, aromatherapy etc here in Brive – unfortunatly i only met her 2 days after my son was born… I am sometimes tempted to go for N°3 just to be looked after by her!! She has the most amazing tips etc that have helped my sisters etc!

    Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy – bonne fin de grossesse!!

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      February 23, 2010 3:00 pm

      That it interesting that these things are covered by the system. Wow! You are right, we probably should make an appointment to see the midwives at our clinic. I guess the biggest problem is that I don’t speak French so I have to wait until Principe has a moment to do this with me, which I’m not sure when that moment could be. Most likely right before the birth as his parents are coming to help us out a week before I’m due. Hmmm. Too bad I’m missing out on yoga and such, that would have been fun. Well, maybe the 3rd will be born here too and I’ll get a more in depth look into the French system and all the goodies they seem to offer!

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