Pregnant in France

“Franryk het soveel karakter en stories wat ons nog uit die smal straaitjies se mure gaan moet trek. In die gedrius van die branders gaan ons moet hoor en in die sprankel van die liggies gaan ons moet lees.”


Here I am awake at four pm once again…The joys or pregnancy!! I know that I will look back and it will all be a distant memory, but with only a few short weeks to go, I kind of need my beauty sleep right now. Pregnant in a foreign country has certainly been quite an experience for sure.  The recalls of other wives stories of who have had their children in France kind of freaked me out in the beginning and gave me hope at the same time. I am not the only one to go through this alone.
What is pregnancy called in French? Grossesse & Enseinte.
My first introduction: Finding out I was pregnant happened via Blood tests, just because after having the “moods” for quite some time I just really wanted to know what’s up. My husband called me one Sunday afternoon and asked: “Are you sitting down?”. Instantly I knew and the sudden shock of “this can’t be” kind of sunk in just because with a history of endometriosis in my family the unreality of “it has only been just one month of trying??!!” kind of felt surreal. So one month in and what was to lay ahead was going to be no walk in the park. What followed thereafter was four long weeks of nausea and what felt like countless days thereafter…
I was scheduled to have my first scan and with me, there is rarely any expectations, just because I have learned to expect the least when I have to compare things to back home. Boy, I was so surprised by the medical system and the fact that I felt so comfortable with my English speaking doctor. The “blob” was confirmed once again and she informed me about the monthly checkups with the “sage-femme” (midwife) and the monthly routine blood tests. One of the things that are hard to explain for me is when is your due date, because in France it is two weeks later… the confusion, I  just stuck to one date, because it could be a while!
Now in-between the checkups, I had to avoid all things “raw” so to speak. Even with an explanation, my steak would sometimes arrive “bleu” and I’ll be invited to dinners where all I can eat is pickles. Which was good in the beginning, because that was what I was craving and all I seemed to keep down. Even my love of coffee was effected and I thought for sure that could never happen!


When I tell my sister that I have had only tree scans during my pregnancy she could not believe it, just because back home it is monthly and even the last bit of pregnancy it is as frequent as once a week.  I have to say that I haven’t felt like I have missed anything, or that the reality of being pregnant has been less. It has just been different…I have gotten the chance to meet our son (even though he hid his face)and one of these days it will be in person!
Alongside the scheduling of the epi, there is the“déclaration de grosses” which is also very important when you don’t want to pay for the birthing process yourself, but through the medical insurance. Mine was declared about a month ago, just because it was picked up quite late by my doctor. I am currently 7 and a half months pregnant. Be sure to ask for a single room as well, it is not automatically assumed and the prices are very reasonable. With only nine euros for breakfast for the hubs and sleepers couch for him to rest his weary head on.
Other things that I did not know and was very very necessary was the fact that I had to schedule a separate appointment with the anesthesiologist for the epidural. Without the appointment – no epi! Luckily I saw the “fine print” so to speak because even when things are explained slowly you can miss the very important details. The appointment was quite quick and straightforward, be assured to take someone with who can speak french, just because with all the terminology you might get lost in translation or in my case it can end up in a sign language session! 
Now the scheduling of prenatal classes was done in advance. I expected a bit more preparation for one of the biggest events of my life.  For my first class, we were just introduced to how things looked in the hospital before you give birth, where you would wait basically to dilate and what your room after the birth would look like. The second class was just a basic explanation of what to do when you have contractions. After I drove home with a great fear, just because how the heck has other women done this “thing” that seems so easy and natural to sage femmes but to me it is still so unimaginable. Here, there is only natural birth and a c-section with extreme exceptions…to me, it is frightening indeed!


Now all the legal nitty gritty stuff is sorted and all that is left is tree rendezvous (appointments) and our baby boy is here. Now it’s finishing up his room, food prepping and my hospital bag that is left. It has been a while and yet it has passed so quickly! It is necessary to find a support system when you are pregnant in a foreign country because no one will understand until they have been through what you are going through themselves.
If your family is miles away, make an effort to make them aware of what’s going on, because it can get very lonely at times and even unbearable. So many women suffer in silence, just because it is a routine event in so many people’s lives. There are so many pregnant women in Castres and I am not the exception, but making my pregnancy special for myself is what counts. Every pregnancy is different and comparing yourself to others will not help even just a bit.
My motto is, listen to the stories take it in because maybe just maybe one of their stories or advice will give you the extra oemf you need.  I know I’ll never be fully prepared, but knowledge is power at the end of the day I will a need a lot of it!
Want to know all the don’t know- I’ll be posting all my pregnancy essentials pretty soon, what you’ll need for the baby’s room, yourself and your hospital bag! Where, how and when!

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