FT, ready for her first big journey home from the hospital. This time,
at the Grand-winny's insistence (and thanks to her generosity), we took a cab.
I'm sure y'all are sick of me apologizing for my negligence in posting for various and sundry reasons, so I'm going to cut you a break this time and not apologize one little bit for not updating my blog in a timely manner. If you hadn't heard (or guessed from the title of this post), I've been a little busy recovering from the act of moving a person from Chateau Uterus out into this fair, French world of ours. It's been an exciting, terrifying, overwhelming, and totally awesome twelve days. Here's how it went down:
Two Thursdays ago (what, my baby is almost two weeks old!? Who authorized this?), I woke up with a bad backache. As I've had back pain throughout the last four months of my pregnancy, I didn't want to jump to conclusions based on that alone. Besides, I was all set to have a mommy date with a new friend of mine up at a boulangerie in Sceaux and I didn't want to be a flake and ditch her. We had a nice, leisurely morning chatting about baby stuff and eating pain au chocolat. I even mentioned the back pain to her; she said that might mean that I would be ready to move bebe along in a few days time. I was still utterly skeptical. My mother, the "grand-winny" (since she says "grandmere" makes her sound like a horse), was set to arrive the next morning for a two week stay and we had both spent the last month or so stressing that little FT would decide not to appear in time for her visit. So going into labor on the eve of her arrival was really just too good to be true. But by the time I got back to the apartment a little after lunchtime, I began to strongly suspect that there were games afoot.
Luckily for us, this happened to be the day that they shut down the power at AH's lab, so he was home from work chilling out. We had actually made grand plans to go up to the city and enjoy what we assumed would be our last evening alone as a couple for quite some time. When I walked in the front door of our apartment, I told him that I wasn't quite sure that was a plan we could stick with.
Still not wanting to rush off to the hospital only to be told to go home, I spent the afternoon relaxing, took a bath, sent AH off to the grocery to stock up on supplies. By 6, I had come to the point where I knew I was not going to be able to cope on my own, which was the point at which my midwife told me I should go to the hospital. And then impatience, panic, and lingering skepticism that the baby could really be coming right on her American due date, caused me to make a very silly decision.
AH: Do you want me to call for the ambulance? [We had been planning on using a private ambulance service, which would cost 100 euros but which would be reimbursed, assuming the hospital staff wrote us a prescription].
Me: No, I don't want to wait, and I don't want to run the risk of showing up at the hospital only to have them tell us I'm not far enough along, and then be out 100 euros. Let's just take public transportation.
Why, why, why? Why did I think this was a good idea? Because if I was in doubt that I was in labor while curled up on my bed moaning at home, trying to keep a poker face amongst the hundreds of other commuters taking the RER home from work at rush hour removed all doubt from my mind. By the time we arrived at Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, I no longer had any illusion that I would be able to rely on the hypnosis techniques I had been using as a naptime soundtrack over the past few weeks to get through the contractions. Here is an approximation of the initial exchange between the attending midwife (who spoke English, Praise Jesus) and myself:
Midwife: Good evening! How are you feeling?
Midwife: Let's check to see if you're in labor first. *Pause, checky check of the ladyparts.* You are only two centimeters dilated. You will need to wait a few hours for an epidural.
Me, between contractions, about the receive the promised epidural.
Et cetera, et cetera. AH was a total champ throughout the three hours between the time we checked in and the time that the epidural was finally administered (at 10:18, not that I was checking or anything), breathing with me, and allowing me to slowly destroy his sweater. While preparing to give the promised Sweet Nectar of Life, the anesthesiologist asked what we would be naming her; when I said "Jospehine," she replied, "Ah, comme la copine de Napoleon!". AH replied, "Oui, et Josephine Baker." The woman totally deadpanned back to my pasty white husband, "well, I hope she's not black."
And after that epidural kicked in, things were considerably easier and just before 3, I was told that it was time to start actively evicting her. Another doctor came in to help the sage femme while AH (still in his street clothes- he was never given scrubs, or even told to wash his hands, something we didn't think about until much later) stayed up and mostly away from the business end of things. Between pushes, the doctor and midwife chatted to me to help me relax. One of them started telling me about her upcoming trip to New York, and how excited she was to eat all of that American food. And so, with thoughts of cheesecake all mixed up with those final moments of curiosity about what color hair our baby would have, with one final push Miss Josephine made her entrance into the world. AH said his first thought was that she looked like Gollum (she was rather blue and scrunchy, with long, sharp fingernails). I was simply in shock that the bawling, living, breathing creature curled up and screaming on my chest had been a stowaway passenger in my body for nine months. But here she was; the little girl I'd been waiting not just nine months, but most of my life for. And after her Gollum-ness had abated (after she was cleaned off and got some color to her when she began breathing), I couldn't help but marvel at the thick dark hair that clearly came from her dad, and the little button nose that I strongly suspect comes from me. But most of all, she looks like her. And she is perfect. And we are so, so happy.
Home again, home again, piggely-jig.