Monday, November 15, 2010


As my 40 week due date looms right in front of me, this weekend I decided to finally get my hospital bag together, or as I call it, the "GOOOOOOOO!!!!!GET OUT NOOOOOOW!!!! LOCK AND LOOOOOOAD!!!!!" bag. For someone who tends to pack 30 minutes before a month long trip, I thought it would probably be in my best interest this time to not just wing it as forgetting toothpaste is probably slightly less of a hassle than forgetting clothes for your new human being or like, a car seat or whatever other lifesaving item I am supposed to know all about but will surely not bring. Is there really already so much to REMEMBER?

But this what I excel at.
Number one.....uh......BAG. I realized that the first thing I needed to buy for my hospital bag is an actual bag as my current options are a ratty backpack given free to FB at a science conference, my NY Knicks duffle bag that I stole from a friend in 2003 that has wiped the floor of practically every bar in New York and Paris as it has been used as my music gig gear bag (complete with gum stuck to the inside and a broken zipper), some heavy duty trash bags, or a giant four wheel suitcase with a broken wheel. Okaaaaay. I was comfortable moving across town via the metro with most of my belongings in trash bags and I have often hauled my accordion to across town gigs strapped to my back with a giant trash bag covering it like some sort of cape of yesteryear meets the homeless look.....but this time, I dunno, maybe I should present myself as a little more "professional" or something considering I will be taking a human being home with me.
"Yeah yeah, just put him the bag, he's fine there, RIGHT SON?"

So after purchasing a super cute bright purple wheely bag, I happily dropped a couple diapers in it, a blanket, one baby outfit and a shirt for myself, zipped it and called it a day.
That was easy.

Until my appointment this week. The hospital and my midwife gave me a printed out list of items to bring in TWO separate required bags (one for delivery room and one for the hospital stay). Huh? Uh......scanning the 40+ items on the list, I understood about three of them. What's a gilet? Coquilles recueil-lait? And what the hell is a gigoteuse? And why do I have to bring my own sheets? Wait, what IS this???

I enlisted the help of FB that evening to translate. I stood by the ever growing pile of "the baby crap" reading off the list, ready to pluck each item from the stack and throw it into the bag while FB put his "let's get serious" look on.

ME: OK, what's a velour pour l'hiver?
FB: A velour pour l'hiver.
ME: Yes. What is it?
FB: You know, a velour pour l'hiver. (FB's most useless learning tool for me...I ask what something means in French, he repeats it back in French. Thanks. So helpful.)
FB: know, that theeng you wear in winter.
ME: OK, is it a sweater? A shirt? A jacket? A coat?
FB: Yes.
ME: WHICH ONE?? I just said four things! A SWEATER COAT?
FB: Oui, oui, like that theeng...
ME: OK, I could be googling this WAY faster than you are helping me right now...
FB: OK! Sweater! Yes, it's a sweater. Jeez!

Item after item went on in this fashion, until we got to the brain teaser of them ALL....THE BODY.

ME: OK (scanning list)....what do they mean by "1 body"? I'm assuming it's not a corpse they are talking about and they probably don't mean "bring yourself" or "bring the body of the baby to be delivered".....
FB: Oh! Non non non, it's that theeng...
ME: Yeah ok, we've been down this THEENG road 23 times already....what makes this THEENG different from the OTHER 23 THEENGS?
FB: AAAAAAGH! Dana! It's that TIGHT theeng.
ME: Alright, I could go down about 400 inappropriate roads with that explanation....
FB: Non non! (he grabs his computer and does a quick search) It's THIS but not like this exactly! It's a body!

He passes me his computer with the following photo attached:

ME: Are you fucking kidding me?
FB: Non, non, but's that tight theeng....
ME: A sexy swimsuit. You are ACTUALLY saying that the hospital wants me to make ABSOLUTELY certain that I bring my sexy swimsuit to BIRTH MY CHILD IN. Do I need hooker heels too????
FB: NON!!! It's that THEEEENG...(he shakes his hands with frustration)
ME: Ohhhhhhhhh wait, do you mean a BODYSUIT?
FB: (with great relief) YES! YES! THAT'S IT! A BODYSUIT!
ME: (pause) Ok, well...that is actually EQUALLY as ridiculous as the sexy swimsuit. WHY would I need to bring a bodysuit to give BIRTH in?? I actually can't think of another type of clothing I would rather NOT try and give birth in...where is the baby supposed to go? Am I supposed to squeeze it into the bodysuit like some horrible modern dance gone awry? And more importantly, do I need to bring Jazz shoes?
FB: Non! You know, like maybe if you want to cover up something or something...
ME: What??? For like, modesty purposes? I'm GIVING BIRTH! Do I need a sheet with a hole in it too? OK, they can't POSSIBLY mean that....forget it....ok, moving on. Last item for the delivery room...what's a brumisateur d'eau?
FB: Oh! It's that theeng that puts water into the air.
ME: A humidifier?
ME: They want me to bring an actual HUMIDIFIER? Like, the machine??
FB: Yes!
ME: And that is supposed to fit in my bag? OK, do I need to bring a heating unit too? And some nurses uniforms? And lunch for 6? And a doctor? And some walls? And...
FB: I don't know why they put that but yes, it means a humidifier.
ME: Dude, you are worse than I am at this and it's your native language.
FB: Yeah well, whatever. How am I supposed to know what all this is either?? And it DOES mean humidifier. Hmpf.

I consulted FB's mother the next day who gave me all the answers I needed including the two major revelations that a BODY is actually a baby ONESIE, NOT a sexy swimsuit. And a brumisateur d'eau is the little water spritzer bottle you buy to spray on your face when you get overheated, NOT an actual humidifier machine.

Ahhhhh, the theengs you learn together along the way.....come on little rocker, we're waiting for you now in our sexy swimsuits.....and yes, I'm using the NY Knicks bag for the delivery room, gum and all. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Sometimes I understand French. Other times I don't get anything at all. As of late, I have noticed it depends on my mood, level of interest in the subject being discussed, my level of interest in the person talking, quality of the "sell" (if you use lots of wild hand gestures, I am more apt to be interested in what you are saying). It can also depend a lot on the weather, if I've eaten or not, whether I feel you will take too long to get to the point, or if my pants are too tight.

Having gotten knocked up by a French boy in a French land with a French medical system, I have found myself in a whole new blur of incomprehension for the past nine months. Medical terms, insurance terms, procedure names, long windy explanations of red tape to get through the system.....multiple visits to the hospital to be explained why something is not right with my card followed by phone calls to FB to talk to the secretary while I stand there as she explains it to him over the phone and I look around the office with a glazed over blank stare like a mute foreign trophy wife with a 9 month pregnant gut of goodness pouring over my pants while I think again for the millionth time "I used to be somebody."

But not understanding is sometimes a gift in disguise. At three months pregnant, I had to get a root canal redone and a crown put on one of my teeth. I dropped my New York transplant dentist because he brought with him New York prices and instead I opted for a Parisian dentist recommendation from FB's dentist in the village he grew up in. After making an appointment with her, I asked FB where his dentist knew this woman from and he said "I think he met her once about 20 years ago or something at a dental conference and now they are Facebook friends."
Sooooooo....I am now making my healthcare decisions based on a village dentist's Facebook friend who he may or may not have banged at a dental conference sometime in the late 80s. Great. Seems one step short of the yellow pages but whatever. I'm so used to rolling with random punches here, I may as well give her a try.

I went to see her for the first appointment, told her I was pregnant and spaced out for the next five minutes as she explained a bunch of terms I never heard of while I answered in my usual pretend I know voice "ah oui, ah oui, ah oui". I've always been a less talk/more walk type of girl so I happily ended the conversation with not one question and after some xrays....PLOP...into the chair I went, expecting the usual shot of Novocaine. It never came. As the minutes ticked by and the drill came out and into my tooth with the sounds of metal sheering off metal, I realized that maybe there was something in those five minutes of jumbled words that might have explained why she was now drilling into the side of my head without any sign of using a numbing agent on my now screeching gums. I spent the next 45 minutes with a drill in my face, debating in my head whether this woman (whom I now call Dr. Torture) was actually doing a root canal with no anesthesia, or if maybe she DID give me a shot and I just didn't see it. Then I ran through the Little Shop Of Horrors soundtrack in my head. I had to remain as calm as possible as to not upset the other human being I am growing so I did what I always do in times of extreme stress.
Pretend I am Bruce Lee and just get on with it.

Having made it through the first session alive, I went back to Dr. Torture two more times, never once asking for any explanation beforehand of what would be done that day. I know it sounds crazy but I actually prefer to not know too much about anything I do beforehand. Like my dream date would be if FB said "we're going for a ride today!" then I found myself being pushed out of a plane skydiving. THAT sounds fun.

I'm applying this train of thought to the last stage of the birthing process now as in just a few short weeks, I am apparently pushing a human being out of me. I read all the books I was supposed to read, I overgoogled everything you could dream of, I heard from way too many people about their experiences. So now....I'm shutting it all out of my head because in the end, it's just a giant root canal in my vagina. I don't need Novocaine, just the floor, my baby and me.
And a margarita afterwards. ;)