Memories and Inspiration for Food, Travel and Life
Anyone who knows me knows that I am very familiar with the French health system, since falling down the stairs and breaking my back in 2013. My new adventure has to do with our having a baby, which is due in March. As we are living in Spain and France, but only covered completely with health insurance in France, we have been making monthly trips back and forth for doctors appointments and planned on coming back a month before the baby was due to stay for a couple of months for delivery and make sure we get her passport etc.
Let me say one thing about giving birth in Paris, you better ‘book’ yourself into the hospital you want almost as soon as you know you are pregnant otherwise the spaces might already be filled. I mean, book yourself before you would even tell family you’re pregnant. You can choose between public, semi-private and private. For an American, even private ‘expensive’ hospitals seem like a deal. And by book, I don’t mean just call. You have to work to get an appointment and make formal declaration that this is where you want to be. Some private hospitals will require a deposit, and most public will require you have a local address.
We started appointments at the public hospital in the 15em called Necker, at the request of our doctor, for the ease of one day ultrasounds and blood work. It is a very highly rated hospital, although generally reserved for high risk cases. This was not the place we were choosing for our maternity anyway, so that was fine. We have chosen the private maternity Saint Felicite in the 15eme for many reasons – almost all of our friends have delivered there, we know a midwife who worked there and is planning on having her baby there and, most importantly, my OBGYN works there and will be able to deliver me. Saint Felicite is small, run by nuns, and while rather dated inside compared to American hospitals, the personalization and intimacy has been a big drawing point for me. It doesn’t hurt that everyone I know who has given birth there has had such positive stories.
I had also taken into consideration the semi-private Les Bluets for delivering, since it has a great reputation and offers rather hard to find things like baths for laboring, but after a rather disorganized and seemingly incompetent (and rude) administrative process we decided against.
France is also very proactive about testing for Downs Syndrome and toxoplasmosis with (it seems) every mother. Which is interesting, as I have not heard this from my friends in the USA. I have had the standard monthly blood tests and around five ultrasounds so far (extras because of extenuating circumstances, otherwise you would have three).
Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in my 7th month after an ultrasound showed my baby was in the 97th percentile and at 31 weeks was weighing 2.2 kilo (nearly what my little self weighed at birth). So we have stayed in Paris since January, rather than going back to Barcelona and arriving back into Paris in February. This hiccup was very stressful at first, since we didn’t have our apartment ready and were staying between in-laws and friends…not enjoyable for long amounts of time when not pregnant but when pregnant and needing to be strict about a diet rather trying for everyone…but I do count my blessings that we have had a place to stay and that the doctors did catch this.
So now we are doing bi-weekly check-ups on the baby, so far so good. I have also taken control of the diabetes through a diet which is incredibly restrictive, but luckily I have never had much of a sweet tooth so it’s not so bad. My culinary background has also helped, since I understand food and know where starches and sugars can be hiding. Ultimately, I will just look at it like I will be in better shape after birth than before!
As someone who usually stresses about their health, I had taken the whole pregnancy rather calmly and was not reading into anything. I walk a lot (living in cities will do that) and eat well when I am at home. I tried to understand why this happened to me – we have been traveling a lot and eating outside of home so while I cannot say I have been perfect, I have always tried to make the right choices in restaurants or others homes. My diabetes doctor in Paris is also stumped, as I don’t fit the ‘profile’ of someone who would end up with gestational diabetes, but it sounds like this happens sometimes and pregnancy just brings it on. C’est la vie!
So now we are just waiting for the next ultrasound on the 17th of February to see how she is growing and then we will go from there!
We can’t wait to meet this little baby!