So, I don’t usually write birth stories. But I thought I would share with you some of the interesting parts of having a baby here in France.
Some things I can compare, and some I can’t.
I love modern medicine and technology, and for both my other pregnancies and deliveries, I was happiest attached to as many monitors and cords as they felt necessary. I know this is against the norm these days, but I’m a huge fan of modern medicine. The thumping of my babies heart rate on the monitor at the hospital was always a welcome sound, and the blood pressure cuff that seemed to go off every 20 minutes wasn’t even that annoying. Here they do this monitoring once a week toward the end of the pregnancy.
So, needless to say, I was happy I was at the hospital when they found out that our little girl wasn’t where she should be, before labor was well on it’s way, at least in hindsight. Things weren’t moving along quite right, and they busted out the portable ultrasound machine to see what was going on. The sage-femme or midwife/delivery nurse looked worried. She called in the doctor on duty. They talked among themselves and I understood their french, but was barely able to produce my own words. Sometime between my 36th and 40th week, my little girl decided to somersault, and was sitting in my pelvis like it was her own personal hammock. ‘Comme une siege’ or ‘like a seat’, a.k.a. transverse breech.
That Tuesday, April 5th, I was 40 weeks and 2 days, and the options were to try to turn her over externally, and if that didn’t work, a c-section. They gave it an honest try to flip her over, which wasn’t the best feeling in the world, but she wasn’t moving. Chris and I prayed together, and if a c-section was necessary, then we would trust the Lord and follow the doctor’s advice. They could do it that afternoon, since I was plenty far along and going into labor on my own at that point would have been a little dangerous.
I knew little to nothing about cesarean sections up until that point and the little bit they told us in the hospital tour. I would be awake, there would be a sheet, Chris would be allowed in, then he would leave with the baby for tests and skin to skin contact while I would go to the recovery room for an hour.
However, anesthesia makes me vomit. I warned the sage-femme, and she said they would give me something for the nausea. After been wheeled into the operating room, I also warned the anesthesiologist. I hadn’t eaten anything in a long while, so there wasn’t much to vomit, but that never seemed to stop me.
‘I’m probably going to vomit.’
‘No you won’t,’ he said.
Fast forward post spinal. I’m laying on the table. ‘I think I’m going to vomit.’
‘No, you won’t,’ he replied as he added something to my IV.
Sheets up, Chris isn’t there yet. I’m looking for him.
‘I need something to vomit into.’
He made it just in time with the tiny bucket, but barely. I can’t say I didn’t warn them.
Me and Mr. Anesthesia had a few more rounds like that, and then finally Chris showed up. They let him in at the last possible minute. He sat down next to me and the next thing I heard was a baby cry. I heard her before Chris. One of the best sounds in the world, truly. They put her next to my head, I kissed her, saw her for a second, and watched Chris leave with her.
Then there was more vomiting. I think the doctor stopped to ask what was happening while she was sewing me up, and the answer was that I was puking.
By the time they wheeled me into the recovery room, I was given the privilege of holding my own little vomit bucket. I got to see Chris and Evangeline one more time as I was transported to the ‘waking up’ room. There I rested and threw up some more. Which leads me to my favorite interaction in the hospital.
Mr. Anesthesia needed to introduce me to one of his colleagues for one reason or another, and this is what he said, ‘This is madame Brock. She is american, very nice, and she throws up a lot.’
I feel like this should be on a t-shirt.
I had spent nine months puking, so it seemed fitting that I should finish strong right? Also, I’m not sure I would have used the words ‘very nice’ to describe my late pregnancy disposition, so at least this was an improvement.
That first day was a blur, but I was happy to have my little girl here, all 7 lbs 12 ounces, of her. There was no place for Chris to sleep in the room, so the poor guy spent the night on the floor in a sleeping bag, because I didn’t want to be alone that first night.
The c-section recovery was much more difficult than my previous two deliveries. The standard is to give you tylenol in your IV for pain, and every other time I kept asking for something stronger, which they gave me, but I’m not sure what it was. Once the IV was out, it was alternating Tylenol and 400 mg of Ibuprofen. I’m sure I’ve taken more for a small back-ache. The french ladies must be made of tougher stuff than I, but that’s a low bar, really. I’m a wimp.
All in all, the delivery nurses were extraordinarily kind, the OB was encouraging, and the baby nurses were awesome. They make sure that your baby is gaining weight before they let you leave the hospital, so our releases coincided nicely.
Our teammates came from Marseille and Toulouse to watch our big kids. This was an amazing blessing. Chris went home every night after that first one, and we came home that Saturday. One of the cool things about France is that your first two or three check-ups are done at your home. The sage-femme comes to the house, weighs and checks the baby, checks on the mom, and no one has to leave the house. That was awesome.
Evangeline was gaining weight by the time we left the hospital, and she nurses, sleeps and cries like a champ. She still has the issue with her kidney’s – a mega-ureter. She had a follow up ultrasound after she was born, and she’ll need two tests in the near future involving x-rays and contrast dye. I’ll post more about this later, but for now she’s doing fine, we are adjusting to life as a family of five, and getting back into the swing of things. Thank you for your prayers during this time, we appreciated them dearly.