I completely forgot to tell you all that I’ve written a guest post over at MummyinProvence on having a baby in France! No horrific birth stories, just my take on having a baby in France as part of the Global Differences of Baby Making series.
Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category
Because of what happened to me after the birth of Baby Piglet I didn’t get chance to feel like a Mum for the first five weeks after her birth, but yesterday I really felt different and like a Mum for the first time.
Not being able to care for my baby caused a certain frustration for me and I think put some distance between Baby Piglet and I, as I was only feeding her, not actually caring for her.
Now that I am up and mobile I get to do so much more with her. I can carry her and rock her gently to sleep without yelping in pain scared to death that I’m going to drop her.
I’m finally able to interact with her, to show her the world and care for her, although I’m being careful to share her with her Daddy and Grandparents as I’m rather tempted to keep her all to myself! Although exhausted and still in some pain when I sit or stand for too long, I am the happiest person on Earth.
Yesterday was the first time I went out without her for more than a quick dash to the supermarket. I was gone longer than expected as I had my first appointment with a midwife here for my pelvic floor & abdominal re-education. The appointment lasted forever as the midwife decided it was too early to start and wants me to see a psy as well.
I knew there was some crazy in my head shell but maybe not as much as she saw. Seriously speaking, she thinks I’m traumatized about what happened especially as I keep having nightmares that the compresses were Baby Piglet’s twin and I gave birth a second time.
I have realized that I have to move on for Baby Piglet’s sake, no more pulling the curtains over my eyes (or hiding behind the blinds as Mr Piglet says). I’ve been denying what has happened since we moved in to the new house, thinking I could put it behind me, using the excuse that my medical records have not arrived yet therefore stalling me from doing anything but my frequent nightmares show that the problem is lingering and needs to be addressed.
I have also started talking to Baby Piglet and have explained to her what happened and why Mummy is sad sometimes. Call me a nut but when she looks at me as if she really understands what I’m saying and I think it’s important that she knows what I’m thinking sometimes so that she doesn’t think I have anything against her.
It’s not just me now but me and Baby Piglet and my first real Mummy decision is to address this head on so I can put it behind us once and for all.
On a lighter note, Baby Piglet and the Grandparent went on a walk and met some of the locals the other day. They were extremely friendly and even came closer so that we could take a good picture:
Since her arrival on April 28th, Baby Piglet has illuminated our lives and been our source of joy and happiness whilst we continue to live in limbo.
This is her birth story, written quickly as a form of therapy for me. If you’ve never given birth or are squeamish you may not want to read, there may be too much information. It’s a long story but it was important for me to put it all down and I do feel better for doing so. I don’t know if I’ll be able to read it again for a long while though.
Ever since I was 28 weeks pregnant, I was told by the French medical professionals that I risked giving birth early and that I was to rest as much as possible. At 36 weeks, I was told that I wouldn’t make it to 38 weeks. Needless to say, when 38 weeks came and went I was disappointed and when 40 weeks came and went my disappointment deepened and I felt as if she would never arrive and that I would remain pregnant forever.
The day before her due date, I spent a sleepness night enduring regular contractions. They were coming every five minutes and were like nothing I had felt before. I had been scared that I would not know when labour arrived, but suddenly I had no doubt. This was it. After several hours of dealing with them (I didn’t want to go to hospital too early and be stuck on a bed), a hot bath and a manic rush to pack my suitcase, Mr Piglet and I set off for the hospital in Valence.
I had planned to give birth in Lyon and had spent considerable time selecting a hospital and then had all my pre-natal visits there, but with the house situation and the fact that we were still at the inlaws, a two hour car journey when in labour was not plausible so we settled for the hospital in Valence.
Upon arriving at the hospital I was examined and told that I wasn’t ready to give birth and that it wasn’t going to be for today as I wasn’t ripe. I was invited to go back the day after my due date (two days later) for a monitoring and was sent home with some tablets to stop the contractions and a sleeping pill.
How could I not be ripe? What did it mean anyway? Bitterly disappointed that it wasn’t my time and confused about being ripe and what it meant, I researched on the internet and then proceeded to eat a whole pineapple (which wasn’t very ripe either!) and was ready to face the onset of awful heartburn. I slept throughout the afternoon and had a few minor contractions but by the evening they were taking my breath away again.
Of course, I’d already been here and had these painful contractions, so I was sure that I was just a wimp and that these were yet more false labour signs and I was just being too sensitive to the pain.
At midnight the contractions were coming every ten minutes. Still not regular enough for me to consider them as being the real deal, I dealt with them as I could and tried to fall back to sleep in between each one. I’d been told categorically by the hospital that until they were five minutes apart for one hour lasting one minute for each contraction it wasn’t time.
I battled through the night in silence, whimpering to myself and trying not to wake anyone up. I dealt with the pain by stomping my feet, banging the wall and breathing. By the time morning came the pain was even more intense, each contraction would start slowly in my lower back, would reach up to my kidneys and then wrap around me and my bump and tighten like a belt trying to cut me in half.
At 7 am I tried to eat breakfast, I woke Mr Piglet up and told him of my pain. The contractions were still 10 minutes apart so we decided to call the hospital and see what they suggested. It was all pretty much déjà vu as I’d been through this the night before so we were reluctant to go to the hospital without checking first.
Whilst Mr Piglet was on the phone I took my shower and the contractions started coming quicker and quicker… 7 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes. I shouted that it was time to go, grabbed a hairbrush and whatever toiletries were close by and panic stricken off we set. Something was definitely going on and terror took over.
The car journey was hell. The contractions were every 2 minutes now and I seriously started to wonder if we were going to make it to the hospital. I didn’t even care that Mr Piglet was in the fast lane, driving at 150 kmh and more, flashing his lights with his indicators going. I think he was pretty terrified as well.
Thankfully the 45 minute journey was over in just under 30 minutes and we dashed into the hospital. By this point tears were streaming and I was beginning to panic. I was examined immediately and the midwife asked a colleague to check me as they couldn’t believe how much I had dilated. They told me to keep the figures to myself as I was over 7 cms dilated and that they would tell the anaesthetist I was at 5 cms otherwise I wouldn’t get an epidural.
The next instances were a whirlwind and before I knew it I was sitting on a bed with a big plastic sheet on my back and a mad woman whom I couldn’t understand was brandishing a large needle and coming towards me. As I glanced at Mr Piglet I could see fear in his eyes so I concentrated on deep breathing and prayed I wouldn’t get a contraction whilst she was putting the needle in. I had originally wanted to give birth without an epidural but the back labour was so excruciatingly painful I decided to get one, as after all its not the labour that’s important but what happens after and if Mummy’s tired then its pointless. Or so I thought.
As the drugs kicked in, the next few hours were wonderful. I could move my legs and could still feel my contractions but the pain had been taken away. I thanked the heavens for such a wonderful invention and started to look forward to meeting my daughter.
After a few more hours the midwife suggested that they break my waters as things had slowed down somewhat (hospitals always have that effect on me). They wanted to take this opportunity to push Baby Piglet down lower as well as she was still too high up and I was nearly fully dilated.
My midwife was fantastic and had a wicked sense of humour. She was mentoring a trainee midwife and suggested that he break the waters. As he came towards me with what looked like a knitting needle I was apprehensive and kept a close eye on him. I’m glad I did as what happened next will remain engraved in my memory forever. He went about what he needed to do and there was a great big gush of water that squirted out from me, all over him! It literally hit him in the face! The midwife burst into laughter as did I and the poor trainee quickly vacated the area, absolutely drenched. I could hear other people laughing in the corridors as he went to get changed. Poor guy!
After a while the ob-gyn came by and checked me and told the midwife that it was time for me to push. The midwife didn’t agree as she felt that Baby Piglet was still not engaged enough so she asked for another half hour. She did some more checks and discovered that Baby Piglet was actually sunny side up which would present a difficulty for the birth. She did what she could to try and get her to change position including putting me on the side, on all fours etc.
It was during this time that I felt the most pain I had ever felt. It was in my butt and came up my lower back. I was positively howling at this stage, what was my epidural doing? It had stopped working!? What seemed like panic broke out in the room and suddenly it was full of people. The Ob-Gyn was back, the anaesthetist was there again doing something to the epidural and there were other people I hadn’t seen. The pain persisted; I just wanted to get off the table and the hell out of there. I couldn’t imagine having to push and expulse the baby whilst in this much pain. I was losing my mind. The epidural kicked back in but the butt pain continued and started getting worse and worse.
Frantic talk occurred all around me, I was no longer fully functional and my French language skills were fading away. I grasped certain words: ventouse, forceps, c-section… I couldn’t care less, I just wanted them to put an end to the pain I was in.
They installed me and it was time to push. Suddenly I was so concentrated on the task ahead that I was no longer in pain. I didn’t even notice the instruments that the Ob-Gyn was preparing and using.
After what seemed like seconds (but was actually closer to half an hour), a blue lump comparable to an uncooked roast chicken landed on my tummy. My first reaction was “urgh, what is that?”! Mr Piglet then cut the umbilical cord and my baby was wiped clean and given back to me.
I was thrilled. The pain had been worth it. Baby Piglet had been born on April 28th at 1613. She weighed in at 3540 kg and measured 49 cms. I was delighted! She was gorgeous and I felt a need a strong need to protect her it scared me.
I vaguely noticed how many people were still in the room and whilst the Ob-Gyn continued to work on me, Mr Piglet and I sung “I’m a Little Pea” by the Red Hot Chilly Peppers to Baby Piglet. I do not know what possessed us to this but we needed to distract ourselves from what was going on and we felt as if we needed to distract her as well. Was this the first maternal instinct that we had?
Later on, back in the room, the epidural started to wear off as did the emotional pain killer of becoming a Mummy and as I got up to go to the toilet it felt as if my insides were going to fall out of my backside. Terrified I tried to explain to Mr Piglet what I was feeling. It was late, no Doctors were on hand to ask, we called a midwife who said it was normal and came back with an ice pack. I pleaded Mr Piglet not to leave me, I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t move – the pain was so bad.
I didn’t sleep that night. I felt too bad. All I could do was stare at my beautiful baby daughter sleeping next to me and at my darling husband sleeping on the floor. This was not how I had envisaged things, I hadn’t had the perfect pregnancy, we didn’t have a home, I had hoped to have at least a perfect birth and be a smiley happy Mum in her bedroom with her newborn. I’d even had my roots done a few days earlier so I could look good in the photos!
I should have known not to tempt fate, I only appear in one or two photos since she was born and they were taken immediately after I had showered. Generally I was slumming it in the hospital night gown and had dreadlocks for hair. My suitcase and make up bag remained untouched.
Over the next two days my pain persisted and I was given paracetemol and an anti-inflammatory. It seemed as if the staff were annoyed with me and I was told that I didn’t look like I was in pain. My parents had arrived and were horrified when they saw me try and go to the toilet. My Mum broke into tears.
Mr Piglet had had enough and demanded that someone come and see me. I was in pain and even though it may not be visible to them I am quite a tough cookie (to have endured what I had already endured was proof enough) and I was over the moon with my daughter so I was distracted but it didn’t remove the pain. I was eventually taken for x-rays and later on told that I had dislocated my tailbone and that I would need to see an osteopath once I left hospital.
Leaving hospital in that state was not a possibility, I was due to leave the next day under normal French medical care. The staff were being nicer to me now that they knew I had a valid reason for sitting in bed in my PJ’s all day long. Mr Piglet demanded a copy of the x-rays as we couldn’t see how I could leave as I still couldn’t stand up. An orthopaedic surgeon was summoned (and appeared within an hour) on a Sunday, which in France is miraculous) and I was told that my coccyx wasn’t dislocated but broken!
By this point Baby Blues had set in and I was howling in misery. Upset I couldn’t look after my daughter I watched as her Daddy bathed, changed and cuddled her. She would lie next to me in her bassinet and we would look at each other but if she cried or if I wanted to pick her up I had to call for help. I felt so helpless all the time and the fact that I couldn’t even go to the toilet or wash myself was demeaning. This was a new lifetime low for me.
All I could do was feed her and it was if the hospital were set against me breastfeeding so I really had to fight for the only thing I had to offer my baby. Several times a day they would come and tell me she had failed her tests and that she needed supplementing from a bottle. Each time I refused. At my lowest point they actually came in with a bottle and I totally lost it! The midwife had warned me that the charts used by the hospital were for bottle fed babies but these people were making me feel so guilty I just had to get out of there.
It was now recognised that I was going to be in bed for a while (at least three to four weeks) so I was offered a transfer to another hospital, but I refused it as it was even further away from Mr Piglet and my friends than where I was! We enquired about home hospitalisation and whilst it is very rural at my inlaws, everything was quickly set in motion and before I knew it the ambulance was there picking me up.
We dressed Baby Piglet up in her going home outfit and I took a few pictures from my bed. She looked so serious, as if she was promising to be a good little girl for her Mummy that my heart broke. I cried all the way home in the ambulance.
Back at my inlaws it was fantastic. The house was all set so that I could sleep properly on an electric hospital style bed with the hand thing so I could hoist myself up. My Mum & Dad delayed their return home to stay and help us set things up so that Mr Piglet and I could cope. There was so much stuff I hadn’t prepared as I had just assumed I would be able to do it once I gave birth. Never did it occur to me that I would be in such a state.
So this is where I am now. Still in limbo at the inlaws, still not being able to look after my daughter and feeling sorry for myself but so proud of her and proud that I am able to offer her what she needs in terms of love and milk at least. I now have a wicked UTI and can no longer get out of bed. Right now it is one thing after another (I ripped my stitches whilst laughing also) and I’ve had enough of being me but my daughter gives me an incredible strength which allows me to keep going and that has enabled me to come off the stronger pain medication I was on for her benefit.
Thank you Lily-May, you have made this manageable for your Mummy. I love you.
7 hours of hellish, back breaking contractions last night turned out to be a false alert despite them being regular. Apparently my body is not ripe for Baby Piglet to come out just yet despite me being term and the hospital preferred to stop them rather than induce me. Am absolutely gutted and have to go back in two days as I’m overdue and they need to keep an eye on me. They’ve told me to prepare myself for more trips to the hospital as it looks like this is going to be long and drawn out… like everything else in my life just now :(
ps. Comments are off, I have no idea why, WordPress won’t let me turn them back on. Sorry!
So here we are, a date that I thought I would never make – 40 weeks! It’s 40 weeks today that Baby Piglet has been growing inside my tummy and despite numerous early warnings by the medical professionals that I’d give birth early and enforced bed rest, we’re still here!
If I was in the UK or the US, today would be my due day, but I’m not, I’m in Franceand my official French due date isn’t until the 28th (Thursday). Until then, none of the French medical professionals will speak to me about serving her with an eviction notice, yet in the meantime my tummy continues to grow and I get more and more uncomfortable:
I was pretty darn sure that I’d have had her by Easter, so much so that I’d bought a cute bunny hat for Easter photos!
Now it’s just a question of waiting and hoping. If she’s not here by Thursday then I’ll be back to the hospital to talk about getting induced as I’m already showing some signs of pre-eclampsia and under surveillance for that.
Come on Baby Piglet! We’re all here waiting for you! Xxx
Ps. The house situation hasn’t moved much over the past week due to the holidays, hoping for an update tomorrow.
I’m not French and certainly don’t have a cute baby bump as sported by the majority of French Mama’s. I do however have a fantastic portable table tray, ideal for eating out when I can’t get close enough to the dining table…
I’ve spent a lot of time moaning and feeling sorry for myself lately so on Saturday Mr Piglet and the In-Laws took me out for a nice meal and I ate the BIGGEST ice cream on the menu! I felt a lot better afterwards :)
The Piglet family hasn’t been having much luck lately. We call it La scoumoune. I’m not quite sure of the origin of the word, I believe that it is Arabic but it’s commonly used in the infamous HLM cities in France (social housing concrete jungles) along with “avoir la mauvaise oeil” as a way of saying that you’re very unlucky. According to Wiktionnaire it’s of latin origin, but whatever it’s origin we seem to have it!
Our unluckiness has now lasted over a year, starting with the Fondue fork incident last February. It has spread like a virus through various aspects of our lives including health, financial, work and more recently our home move.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that we were supposed to move into our new home in the country on March 28th but that the current owners wouldn’t move out! They didn’t even notify us that they were refusing to move until 10 days before we were due to move in! After six weeks living with the in-laws I cannot even begin to explain my desperation and how I felt.
Legally, they have no right to delay and we can sue them and seek interest and damages but as anyone who knows the French system we may as well dream on. We are going to try and seek some damages but the thought of having another legal battle and ongoing dealings with them (albeit through an avocat) and additional expense leaves us cold. We tried to reason with them and were told that we were nasty, evil people. We were called liars (they obviously can’t read the contract we all signed agreeing the date!), we were told that we were trying to evict them from their home and that we were causing ill health. It got to the point where Mr Piglet stopped updating me on what was happening as he could see it was causing much stress and heartache… I’d never envisaged becoming a Mother in such circumstances.
At one stage, I wanted to pull out of the sale completely but common sense prevailed – it had been so difficult to find a suitable house that I couldn’t bear starting the search again, 9 months pregnant!
Finally, after 10 days of legal battles, the owners have agreed to move out on April 18th and we have managed to convince the removal company to slot us in from the 19th onwards. I hope this is the end of our bad luck period as I cannot imagine another year of bad luck and thinking whatever could come next. They say bad luck comes in 3’s but in our case this last year it’s been in 3 dozens…
As you can see by the pregnancy counter in my side bar, time is ticking and Little Miss Piglet will soon be here. In fact, she is due to arrive anytime now according to the hospitals midwife as she is sitting very low and I am having frequent contractions! I doubt that we’ll be in the new house before she gets here, but now I’m learning to relax and accept what will be will be.
Having our first child in totally unplanned circumstances (to the point where I don’t even know in which hospital I will give birth) is not something I had ever planned and certainly not something I had wanted, but it is what life has dealt me and I am grateful to even be pregnant. My priority now is my little baby and I can’t wait to meet her, but if she can wait another few weeks for Mummy and Daddy Piglet to move in, we would be grateful.
They say things happen for a reason and I’m yet to discover what reasons are behind all of this. Has life dealt you with some unexpected delays/news which you were grateful for afterwards?
Dear French Social Security People,
I know that you have an ever increasing “hole” in your budget and that you have been trying to find solutions for years on how to maintain the French healthcare system and yet save money so to ensure its future sustainability. I know that you have been unsuccessful and that currently you continue to spend far more money than you collect.
I’m not one for great ideas, especially when it comes to saving money (I am very good at spending it), but I do have an idea that could be mutually beneficial and help save you lots and lots of Euros straightaway but also for years to come.
Currently 8 months pregnant, you have been paying for me to have twice weekly back massages at a physiotherapy since Christmas. I’m not sure of the exact price of these massages as you pay for them, but I think they are in the region of 19 Euros each. So far, that must be over 400 Euros and by the time I give birth, you would probably have spent over 500 Euros on them.
The thing is, the massages don’t really help all that much. Yes they relieve some of the pain but it is a short lived solution. You see, with a big pregnant belly, I cannot lie down but have to sit on a chair. Sitting on a chair is one of things that cause me back pain the first place so it is a catch 22 situation.
But, I have the perfect solution which solves my back problem that you’re already paying for, but also covers other issues at the same time. I consider it as a kind of buy one get several solutions idea. I visited a hairdressing salon and they had the most wonderful massage chair at the wash basins. The hairdresser installs you at the wash basin and the chair reclines automatically into a lying down position elevating your legs (excellent for reducing cankles) and then proceeds to massage your back whilst the hairdresser washes your hair and gives you a relaxing head massage.
The back massage is far more comfortable than at the physiotherapists and much more effective. The head massage is excellent for alleviating stress and tension in the shoulders – something that lots of pregnant women suffer from due to the extra weight they carry on their tummy. Elevated legs reduce swollen ankles and improve blood circulation reducing the need to invest in expensive support tights (which you pay for and which I ladder constantly therefore needing new ones). Finally, the pampering of having one’s hair done at the hairdressers is excellent for boosting self esteem and no doubt has a knock on effect in the future probably saving thousands of Euros in therapy costs post partum.
A once weekly visit is much more effective on me than my twice weekly physio visits, thus saving you half of what you’re already paying as well as the other savings I have mentioned above.
Multiply the savings by the number of pregnant women in France (ie lots!) and you’re probably well on your way to fixing that deficit!
Therefore, I highly recommend that you seriously consider implementing this for all pregnant ladies suffering from back pain. If you would like any addresses or if you have any questions please let me know and I would be willing to assist (for a consultancy fee of course).
Currently sans domicile fixe
Oh my! Vivement that the next 6/7 weeks go by quickly and without any major hiccups as I’m truly beginning to wonder whether I’m going to make it to the end of my pregnancy without disaster and whether I should wrap myself up in cotton wool and stay sat on the sofa all day…
After the “bathroom incident” at les Beaux Parents, I’ve had a couple more incidents including nearly falling down a ditch in front of their house whilst driving at 5 kmh (I have no idea where I was looking) and having the removal men take away all my underwear meaning that I had nothing left for the time we are in limbo (okay so it was a good excuse to go shopping!).
But yesterday I nearly made 4 people, 4 cats, 1 dog and a tortoise homeless when I came very close to burning the in-laws house down.
I was off to meet the lovely Mummy in Provence and little Baby in Provence in nearby Orange for lunch and wanted to look presentable so decided to iron my clothes as a normal person would. Except it wasn’t my iron and after fathoming out how the wretched thing worked, I turned it on and left it to heat up, thinking that I’d make the most of it and iron a few of Mr Piglet’s work shirts whilst I was at it.
I entered the absorbing world of internet for all of about 10 minutes and forgot about the iron until I smelt burning. Horror of horrors! The iron had melted and was working its way through the electric cables! Minutes later and I would have been dealing with a fire! A fire in a wooden house!
So now I need to buy a new iron but the MiL isn’t having any of it. She just laughed it off but I am so embarrassed. These poor people must be fed up of me and my accidents already and I’ve only been here for two weeks! By my calculations I’ve got at least another 4 weeks before we move into our new house, I’m just going to have to try really, really hard not to break anything else… I’m using the tumble dryer for the first time this am so wish me luck!
The rest of the day went thankfully without major incident and I had a lovely time with Mummy in Provence and BiP picking up lots of helpful tips on baby care and equipment! I hear BiP is ill today though so I hope she gets better soon! It truly is a pleasure for me to stay in Provence at the moment and hopefully the in-laws will let me come back to visit again once we move out so that I can continue meeting all the great people I’ve met recently.
I did get totally lost driving back from Orange though but it wasn’t all negative. I managed to take a lovely snap of the nearby village to where we’re staying. When I saw it, I thought of Sara in Le Petit Village as it’s just how I imagine Le Petit Village to be…
One last thing, I’ve finally set up a Facebook page… If you’re on Facebook do drop by and say hello – here it is…