I always have an idea about how things will go in my life. I've been around long enough to know that the way you think it will go is probably not the way it will go, but I still do it: think ahead, envision an event, plan it all out. For example, if I was to ever get pregnant 'some day' I would bring the baby back to the Brookfield Bungalow to sleep in the Blue Room; copious family would be around to get underfoot and to help out; my neighbor Maria would be on hand for mothering advice or a delicious Portugese meal when I was just too darn tired to cook. I would work hand in hand in hand with my dear doctor who has become a friend. I would shop for maternity wear with my girls, and be able to buy all the gear at my local Babies R Us.
Well, like John says, life happened while I was making other plans. We had been settled in our new apartment for about a month when I found out I was pregnant. I first suspected when we were down in the South of France, sampling wine. It made me sick -really sick- and my tolerance is normally stupendous!! I got home, and before making a trip to the pharmacist had to look up the French word for 'pregnancy', which is 'grossesse'....not pretty.
And the grossesse adventure has just continued from there. Having no idea what is available, I have relied utterly and completely on my new GP to guide me though the French medical system. Which turns out is pretty good, although the French think it is going to hell in a handbasket! Imagine of they had to wait 6 months for surgery like in Canada......Generally speaking I get a real, live DOCTOR doing my medical tests, which is wonderful as they diagnose as they go along. None of this 'wait for the results' nonesense. My ultrasounds have been done in English (bonus!) but all my bloodwork and other tests in French, which means I tote the dictionary with me to the clinic (they think this is cute).
And speaking of vocabulary, shopping for baby furniture is a whole new world. As our apartment is so small, we want a crib that turns into a toddler bed; the French call this a 'lit evolutif' which I think has a lyrical ring to it. Lyrical it may be, but it is also expensive!! I can get a lovely solid wood lit evolutif in Ottawa for about $250; here in Paris the average price is 700 euros, and it is MDF. Grrrrr!!! Then there are berceaux (bassinettes) sometimes called couffins (a term that makes me nervous), pousettes (strollers), commodes (dressers) and hautes-chaises (OK, this one I could work out without the dictionary!). I'm scared to even get into diapers, bottles, bibs......
However it has not been all bad: the maternity wear is lovely; I get to use all sorts of toilets not normally open to the public; I get seats on the Metro. And people are very kind, always wanting to know my 'date d'accouchement'. Of course, by French standards I look about ready to pop now......you should see their eyes pop when I tell them I still have a few months to go! What can I say, we make 'em big in Canada.
So being pregnant here in many ways has made the whole process so much more difficult. I am trying to adjust not only to being a new Mom, but to my new city. Some days I feel such despair: if I can't even figure out how to buy blinds for the baby's room, how on earth can I look after the baby? But then I stop and remember that being here has given me the rare gift of time: time to not be working, time to really enjoy being pregnant, time to contemplate motherhood. Greg and I have had to rely on just each other, and are already honing our own instincts for parenthood.
Besides, our little one can always say he was born in Paris!