Saturday, September 3, 2016

Week 13: Searching for a English-speaking Sage Femme in Paris - PART I

I find it a tad strange that when look for information about the French system for anything online, such as how to get a carte sejour, what's it like to go to this french civic courses, i find very little information on forums and blogs. There are some, but most of which are very high level and i get very little info on the actual experience and the stuff i look for.

Looking for a midwife here has been probably the worst experience. Since I came back from my ultrasound, i had been looking on and off online not too seriously for a midwife who speaks english, but i haven't found too much information. In fact, even when i look for French ones, most of them are on vacation for August. I found less like one or two webpages that basically said if i want pregnancy info in Paris, I need to join "Message Paris" where there is apparently "a wealth of information" for English-speaking parents in Paris and boasts of having 4000 members or something. However, the fee to join is 50 EUR annually.

Even when i emailed a person from Yelp who has gave a review for Necker hospital for giving birth, they told me to join message paris.

But when I searched online for reviews of this group to see if it's worth it, I couldn't not find any info on it.

And so after a day of fruitless searching on sage femme in paris to spoke english (I had emailed some sage femme who either did not respond and told me they were not available), I bucked up the 50 EUR and joined the group.

Message Paris 

Once I joined, I was a bit disappointed (as I expected). The entire site is basically a crowd-sourcing site that doesnt actually provide you with well-researched information that's regularly updated. If you look for any information, you are lucky if you can find up to date info contributed by someone who's on the site; if you are looking for meet up groups, the site depends on area leaders who volunteer to set the meeting up. A lot of areas dont even have leaders.

For the most part, I would have expected that sites that rely on crowd-sourcing generally is free, and the maintenance upkeep is held together by advertisement. However, it looks like the 50EUR goes to site maintenance i suppose, and they still do some advertisements for group classes that costs like 200 EUR to join and does not seem to be covered by insurance.

They have this "directory" for medical references, but each sub-forum has only about 10 threads per year, and you can likely only find one or two doctors that are recommended that are still active for their perspective field.

But since I have only used it to find info on sage femme, and the site has members that go from pregnancy to parents with adult children, and therefore perhaps as i keep using it i may find it to be useful in the long run? Hard to say.

I looked up information on prenatal swimming classes and aquagyms and found nothing. I posted on the forum and we'll see if i get any feedback. There doesnt seem to be too many active pregnant ladies on there.

I found basically two sage femme that were recommended who speak English on the site and contacted both of them. In the meanwhile I had also booked an appointment online with a sage femme near the hospital that i wasn't sure if she spoke english.

Guiliana Faure

I had my appointment with her on Thursday, September 1 at 9:15am. She has her own clinic on the ground floor of a beautiful apartment building courtyard down the street from Necker Hospital. When I arrived she greeted me at her door with a huge and polite smile.

She did not realize at the time that I was not looking for a full-time sage femme who would do monthly follow-ups with me, as well as provide me with classes and recommendations for classes (I'm honestly unsure how these classes work  and who runs them at this point - still a work in far as I know, there are many french-speaking group classes offered by hospitals but outside of that im not sure)

We cleared up that i had a sage femme at necker who is responsible for my "medicare" and monthly follow up and that i was looking for the other stuff that the sage femme can provide. For this first session, she asked me a lot of questions about my personal life and my pregnancy, and gave me a prescription for compression socks because i said i travelled a lot for work. She also recommended that i take swimming classes for pregnancy because i cant exercise due to my allergies.

The conversation was entirely conducted in French and she claims that she doesnt speak much english - however, the few words we did use in english was fine and i think she gave herself very little credit for her english.

She provided me a recommendation for a colleague who is english speaking but she said the english speaking sage femme wont be able to see me until i'm at around 6 months, which made me kinda nervous because i'm a bit tired of not having a person to go to when i have questions about my pregnancy. In canada, you would have an ob-gyn you would see whenever you need to!

I really wanted to stick with Guiliana because she was so helpful and so professional and her clinic was really clean and had equipments for medicare (i didnt check but i think she even has an ultrasound machine). But Caleb really wants to be a part of the the classes and i think i would feel better if i can find someone english-speaking as well so we decided we would do some more research before we decide.

Emanuèle Adrai-Saint-Paul

She was recommended by someone in on Message as an English speaking Sage Femme and she's not that far from where i live. I had sent her an email and she called me back the evening of to talk about the details. She has a pretty thick french accent but is fluent in English. The biggest issue that i have with the situation is the fact that although she is conventionee (meaning fully covered by the french government and health insurance), she does not accept carte vitale which means that she has to give me these "feuilles de soins" (care papers?) that i would need to mail to assurance maladie, which is really annoying (these papers could get lost in the mail and posting them is just pain). 

She gives classes in small groups, but she prefers not to have the husband there except for the last class where she teaches about how to take care of the baby. She also combines two classes into one, so they are extra long. 

Caleb would like to be there for all the classes so i'm not sure if this is ideal. I will need to see her next Monday to find out more.

Diana Powell Bodrone

Diana is recommended by a lot of people on Message, and even the connection I found over Yelp. When I texted her, she was just on her back from vacation or something and was in a taxi. I told her that i would like to speak to her on the phone (wed) but she never responded. On Friday, after i came back from the meeting with Guiliana, i called her phone. She was driving but was very nice and easy to talk to. 

Diana is Irish and has been here for 20 years or something and is conventionne and takes carte vitale. She doesnt have her own clinic and lives about an hr away from Paris. For meetings with her patients, she goes to people's houses. She starts at around 6am and ends at around 3pm because she needs to get home to her own three kids. She is registered with Hospital Necker, which is pretty awesome.

Based on our conversation, her strength is the fact that she really understands where a non-french speaking person comes from and is able to empathize and help you with navigating the system. Everyone on the forum says great things about her. I dont know how these courses are going to work though (Group or private in home?) and when i asked her about swimming classes for pregnancy, she told me to check on Message Paris, which kinda sucks because there is zero info on the website.

I am going to meet her next Thursday at noon and she's our first choice right now. Hopefully everything will work out.

Week 12: My first ultrasound

So on Tuesday August 23rd I had my first ultrasound to see the baby - finally.
We took bus 92 to Duroc and got off right in front of hospital Necker.
When we went to register, I did not bring any ID or attestation d'herbergement (proof of residence) but the guy was super nice and said i could do it next time i'm there.
We then went into the maternity ward where the reception there processed me for my appointment.
While we were waiting, about 3 other couples also arrived - but it felt pretty empty overall (maybe it's cuz it's August?).

Caleb asked me if i was going to speak to them in French or English and we got into a slight disagreement. I thought if i spoke with them in French, they might be more apt to provide info but caleb said he wants to understand everything. By the time we got to see the first person (not sure if it's a nurse, doctor, technician or whatever they're called, we haven't really come to an agreement. For the sake of ease i will call him a doctor.

The first doctor was responsible for asking us all kinds of questions, analyse the documentation i had brought, which included by blood test results, and decide on what additional work i need to have done. He asked me things like how much i weighed (i had no idea) and family history of diseases, etc. He spoke in perfect English and completely understood the need for Caleb to have this conversation in English. He gave me some forms to read and sign after I said I wanted to test for Down's Syndrome (Trimosome 21) and write a prescription for additional blood works that he thinks i needed.

We went back to the same waiting room after until the ultrasound technician/nurse/doctor was ready for us. This doctor was happy to speak english too, but she was one of those french people who liked to tell you "Il faut apprendre francais" (you must learn french) whenever there's space to slip it in.

I asked her if she had a weight and found out i was 48kg. I dont think im that much heavier than my regular weight but i definitely look much rounder overall (face, arms, legs, belly, you name it). She went through the list of questions I had and told me I needed to find my own sage-femme - a gyno is not necessary, and that the father's blood type doesnt matter (which is different from other stuff i've read).

She read my list of illness, and said everything was normal and said if im sick from taking vitamins or folic acid i dont have to worry since i'm in france and there's plenty and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide me with the nutrients i need (yeah right, they have so little variety of veggies here). I don't really like her type of frenchness where they think everything about france is so great, but she's extremely professional and kind in other ways.

And then it was time to hit the ultrasound machine. I gotta admit, the 8 weeks of puking didnt really make me feel like i cared one way or the other, or even have the realization that there's a living thing inside me, but when i saw the sonogram of the baby and she poked my belly to make it move and turn and kick its legs, it really hit me.

I used to think people who cry at ultrasounds were crazy, but now i am one of them. My couldn't stop the tears from coming down! And for the rest of the day i couldnt wipe a smile off of my face. I even went to the office after the appointment (which ended at around 11am), as the guy on the phone said it would take 3 hours (we arrived at 8am and our appointment was at 830 so pretty good timing overall).

After the ultrasound, Caleb asked if we can have a photo and she said she would give it to us because we asked, but she didn't really and we had to wait until the next appointment to pick up the full package of results.

After this session, we went into the waiting room where the bloodworks are to be done. The girl this time spoke no English at all but she told me that we would be assigned a mid-wife from the hospital, which is completely different from what the ultrasound doctor said - it was really strange.

After she took my blood, we sat down and made the appointment to come back for the down's syndrome results while the rest of the results would get mailed me to me. The appointment was made for Thursday, August 25th and i was going to also receive my "declaration grossesse" - the three sheets of proof of pregnancy so i can mail them in the assurance maladie and CPAM to receive my benefits.

When we went back on Thursday, it was the same ultrasound doctor who saw us, gave us a package of results and photocopies of the ultrasound scans, and the down's syndrome results.

She asked me if i found  mid-wife yet, and i told her that the girl who took my blood test said i could get one assigned from the hospital, so she assigned me one who is american but told me i still needed to find my own mid-wife to give me classes and take care of me. She gave me a brochure to find the network of mid-wives in the city and also gave me an appointment for the follow-up with the american midwife, and my next ultrasound at 22 weeks.

It wasn't until I began my search for mid-wives did i start to get some insight into why she thought it would be better if i found my own.

Anyway, based on the size of the baby and my date of my last period, they believed that the baby was conceived on June 14th and my due date is March 14th. The earliest the baby could have been conceived was June 15th, so i guess my baby is healthy size.

Oh and it's also official that i'm at week 12 and 0 days on the day of the appointment i had.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 11: Preparing for my first ultrasound

So after 11 weeks of hell, I'm about to get my first ultrasound tomorrow. I was good yesterday and then at around midnight i started to feel funny, and was up until 3pm when i finally puked and then was able to fall asleep.

I woke up this morning anxious. Is my appointment today or tomorrow? Crap - i haven't learned about what i'm supposed to expect yet and i need all the stuff listed and translated in french in case they miss something or i dont understand something. Why didn't i do this yesterday instead of laying waste on a couch watching 2 hours of Friends on Netflix when I own the entire DVD set and had even watched all of it with commentary?

Anyway, so here I am, getting prepped. I've been a bit nervous about not having done an ultrasound or even going to the doctors to get more info since I had gone the one time to get a prescription for a blood test. I havent taken my prenatals cuz i can't stomach it, and ive been looking online and chatting with friends, family, or friends of friends on what to do about my stomach - it feels a bit irresponsible but it feels like even if i went the french way does not care.

This was confirmed as soon as I googled "First ultrasound France" and this was the first link
Apparently even if you went out of your way to go, it's kinda pointless. Their attitude is so laissez-faire.

Here are the things i will need to ask or make sure i do tomorrow:

1. Make sure to get the "Declaration de grosesse" forms for declaration:

  • The document is called "Premier examen medical prenatal"
  • Pink slip + lab result go to Caisse d'assurance maladie
  • 2 blue forms go to Caisse d'Allocation Familiales (CAF)
  • Do it within 14 weeks to be reimbursed 100%

2. Determine actual due date of pregnancy (la date prévue d’accouchement)

  • Last period (dernières règles) was 28th Mai commence

3. Provide all my symptoms (symptômes de grossesse)

  • a lot of dry-heaving - at least 5 times a day (avoir des haut-le-cœur au moins 5 fois par jour)
  • actual throw up 2-3 times week since july (vomir 2-3 fois par semaine depuis juillet)
  • stomach hurts and burns all the time - symptoms of indigestions and a lot of gas (avoir mal d'estomac, L'ingestion cause des brûlures dans estomac, se sentir ballonnés et avoir davantage de gaz tout le temps, jamais arret)
  • Diarrhea happens but not too often (parfois avoir des coliques/diarrhee)

4. Ask about

  • Down's Syndrome test (si le bébé a la trisomie 21), 
  • abnormalities (s’il existe des anomalies), 
  • risks (les risques maternels et fœtaux)
5. Ask about next about appointment/ consultation (consultation prochaine, les autres examens)

  • seeing a gynecologist (gynécologue) or a midwife (sage-femme) or obstetrician (gynécologues-obsétriciens)
  • Low taxoplasmosis antibody - igg and igm (anticorps contre la toxoplasmose)
  • Presence of infection from my first blood test
  • Ask about Father's blood type being different (groupe sanguin de Caleb)

6. Ask about prenatal vitamins (vitamines prénatales)

  • thinking about them makes me gag (j'ai essaye de prendres prenatales et acide folique mais j'ai des haut-le-coeur alors j'ai arrete - je veux le faire quand j'en pense)

7. Provide my medical history: asthma, severe allegy, eczema (atopy triad), a lot of stomachache/indigestion (no known cause)
  • triade atopique: 
    • urticaire (grave, quand j'ai chaud and quand je sors de maison, cetirizine)
    • asthme (pas souvent, flovent & ventiline)
    • eczema (plus depuis grosesse, betaderm)
  • ingestion, haut le coeur souvent mais pas de diagnostique)

8.  Preparation for birth? (Préparation à l’accouchement)

9.  Drink lots of water as fluid is needed for ultrasound

10. Bring my test results!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week 11: Giving up on counting the days

So i totally thought three weeks had gone by already and next tuesday would be my check up, except it's still another week after - so you can see how exhausting this pregnancy has been. Everyday feels like forever.

On Friday, i finally took a folic acid pill of 400 gram and puked immediately after. Yesterday I did not take any because i was queasy all day feeling really terrible. Today i've been okay and have not done any heaving all i took a pill just now at 11pm and the heaving has started again. Looking online a lot of ppl get sick from taking it - i reallly want to just give up on this stuff.

I looked up the tests that i am supposed to have prior to my ultrasound and it appears that other than the pregnancy test, the doctor didnt miss any other tests i'm supposed to have taken, so that's good. I've also looked up all the other stuff im supposed to have tested when i do my 3 hour appointment with the ultrasound just in case anything is missed - i should learn all the names in french.

went to see Suicide Squad last night (wanted to see Bad moms) and i didnt feel pukey throughout which made me wonder if my mind just needs to be occupied - but with this folic acid episode i am no longer sure. i wish this were in the 50s and i didnt have to take anything and could eat what i want and drink what i want and smoke what i want (even though i dont smoke) and wouldnt have to work - how nice would that be?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Week 11: still first trimester - feels like it's never going to end.

So i haven't been taking my prenatal vitamin last week because i was feeling so sick. Over the last week i was feeling much better so on monday night i took it. Then it went all downhill from there. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (today) had been non-stop heaving and actually threw up last night in the middle of the night. Every time i eat something and i feel sick after i stop wanting to eat that item, so im starting to really run out of food options to eat. i had read that Popsicle are supposed to help so i went and bought a Popsicle mould. And then yesterday after eating it every time i wanna gag, i now associate popsicles with throwing up. nice.

i had thought rice, my favourite comfort food would never make me puke, but last night i puked out alll rice. now i cant eat it. the fridge is full of food i made and can't touch again.

so then i stopped taking my prenatal again, which is pretty bad because im supposed to at least be taking folic acid. i went to the pharmacy on tuesday and picked up just folic acid under the direction of di, and yet i still have yet to take it. im eating regularly but because i feel so terrible 90% of the time, i find it hard to swallow pills.

my boss keeps lecturing me on making sure i have enough calcium. but i've been having the runs and i couldnt tell if it's from the vitamin or from the milk and yogurt i have with cereal. yesterday while i was on a call, i had to stop the call for 10 minutes while i ran to the bathroom. i spent a few hrs in the grocery store yesterday comparing all the different milk and their calcium and i found lactose free milk, which i had with my cereal this morning. i hope this will solve this.

im gonna try to make cantonese congee tomorrow to see how it works out. they always say when you start having a child youd want to be closer to home - i hadn't believed this but now i really do. i wish my mom was here taking care of me. as much as ppl around me here try to help, none of them can cook what my mom cooks and caleb definitely cannot cook any chinese food.

i wake up every morning and i dont want to get up because im so uncomfortable and i know i'll start gagging as soon as i start moving. i keep tellling caleb i wanna rip my upper stomach out cuz it's always hurting, or retire for good so i dont have to get up in the morning. the fear on his face about my retiring is both funny and scary. sigh.

honestly everyday feels like im passing a year.