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CitizenM Hotel @ Paris CDG – I am a citizen now

When we traveled from France to Finland, we stayed at the CitizenM hotel at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.  The review of this hotel is exceptionally good, so I was a bit curious.  Now I am convinced that this hotel totally deserves the high rating.

First of all, as a four-star hotel at the airport, its price is very modest.  When I booked through Hotel.com about two months in advance, it was only a little more than US $100 (with a 12% off coupon though).  Paying just 20~30 dollars more to stay right at the airport – why not?  The hotel is located next to Hilton, close to Terminal 3.  RER station is close-by.  An airport train, TGVVAL, links all the three terminals.

CitizenM Paris CDG outside
CitizenM Paris CDG outside
CitizenM Paris CDG decorations

Secondly, the hotel is very modern and high-Tech.  I found the painting on the outside wall very attractive.  The inside decoration is also stylish – every touch is full of design.  The words on the walls are interesting.  I believe that every single piece of decoration is picked/collected carefully.  People, including me, cannot help taking photos.  The checkin and checkout are done at a round table with computers.  Not sure about the checkin, but the checkout is self-service.  You just put the card key on a reader, and then check out on the computer.  It takes a few seconds.  Every room is equipped with an iPad mini, which can be used to control almost everything in the room: light, shades, TV, etc.

CitizenM Paris CDG checkin
CitizenM Paris CDG checkin

Thirdly, the staffs are nice.  Since we traveled with a baby, the staff assigned us an accessible (larger) room, and offered a baby cradle.  At the bar & restaurant, the bartender gave us a free beer 🙂 BTW, the food is good, and the price is ok – €24.  Breakfast is about €18, with good selections of high quality.

Lastly, the room is extremely clean and quiet.  The king bed and pillows are very comfortable.  Wifi is stable and fast.  Additional freebies include two bottles of water and MOVIES!  Old movies and relatively new movies.  I watched Passengers.

If I will stay at CDG again, I think I will go for CitizenM again.   I heard it’s a chain hotel as well, so I will also look for it whenever I need a hotel.

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A weekend in Les Deux Alpes Ski Resort

Every winter, people from all over the France or even the world come to Grenoble for skiing.  There are world-famous big ski resorts, and also small local favorites.  Although I have a good reason (unfortunately) not to ski, it would be a shame spending a whole winter in Grenoble without seeing the snow mountains.  Not to say that I do love snow skiing.

Here’s the deal.  My father-in-law flew all the way from Japan to France to ski in Alpes, so we picked a big and well-known ski resort – Les Deux Alpes.  Our concern was whether the high altitude would affect my pregnancy (7/8th month).  After all, we would spend three days above 1800m, and I would very much like to go to the top of the mountain, which is 3600m.  Found some articles online saying that above 2000m was not recommended… So we thought that 1800m might be fine!  Actually, in China, we visited Huanglong when I was three months pregnant.  Huanglong is above 3200m, and on the way to Huanglong the highest point is above 4000m.  Our baby seemed OK for the high altitude!

So we started to plan our trip.  First of all, we booked the hotel – Turan, because it has direct access to the slopes.  Then, we purchased the ski pass for the first day online, and requested the cards to be mailed to our home.  After receiving the cards in the mail, we purchased the ski pass for the following two days using the card numbers (for insurance). Somehow without the card numbers, it’s only possible to get insurance for the first day.  That’s why we purchased our three days’ ski pass separately.  If you do not want the insurance, then you can just purchase the ski pass (for as many days as you want), and pick up the card in the resort.  The last thing we booked was the bus tickets – from Transaltitude.  € 15 per person, one-way.  The bus leaves from the Gare of Grenoble, and it takes about 1h 40m to reach Les 2 Alpes Ski Resort.  

We were probably the last ones to board the bus, and it was quite full!  Maybe because  it’s the peak season – February, there were some traffic going into the mountains.  We got off the bus at the first stop – Point Info, which we thought was the closest to our hotel.  There’s an information center right there.  We got maps, and asked for directions to the hotel. Without any difficulty, we checked into Hotel Turan.  The girl at the front desk was very helpful.  She showed us the ski dry room and where the lift was.  She also gave us coupons for the ski rental and a close-by Italian restaurant (we ate there every day)!  Talking about ski rentals, we probably should have made reservations at home, but we didn’t realize until the day before our trip, and it was already too late!  You can’t reserve rentals for the next day!  However, thanks to the coupon from the hotel, I guess we still got a pretty good deal.  So don’t forget to ask the hotel for coupons 😉

After lunch (already 3pm), my husband and his father went to skiing.  I, of course, stayed in the room.  The size of the room was OK.  There were two single beds and a bunk bed.  The room was simple, but adequate.

Les deux alpes
The view from balcony, Hotel Turan

The second day, I also went out after they went for skiing.  I took the free shuttle to the center of the village (@1650m), because we planned to meet there to take the lift Jundri Express #1 to 2600m.  That lift is for both skiers and walkers.  I didn’t feel bad in the lift, but I was still a little bit worried.  Then, we took Jundri Express #2 to 3200m!  Although it’s almost the highest point, the slopes were actually easy.  That’s why Les 2 Alpes is good for skiers at all levels, even I could come up to the top and ski (if I were not pregnant)!  In USA, however, I usually couldn’t go all the way up to the top, otherwise I might get stuck there.

The view at 3200m was wonderful!  Since I didn’t feel bad at this altitude, I decided to try a little bit more, 3400m. There’s an overlook up there.  To get to 3400m, we had to take a cable car to go down a little to reach the other cable car, which goes up to 3400m through a tunnel.  If you are a skier, then you have other lifts to go to 3400m, but I don’t have other choice.  Maybe because it’s not used often, that first cable car was not functioning well – we got stuck!  With operator’s help, it still took a few minutes for us to get to the second cable car.  The second one is much bigger, and is used routinely – many other passengers.  When we get to 3400m, one operator told me that it’s windy outside so it’s too dangerous for pedestrians.  I had to go back to 3200m, immediately.  OK then.  We took the same way back to 3200m. Yes it’s windy!  I took the Jundri Express #2 back to 2600m.  My husband and his father skied down to meet me.  I went back to the hotel after lunch at 2600m.  For me, that’s all I did in this ski trip, except for staying at the hotel and sightseeing in the village.  The photo below was taken by my husband, at 3600m.  Plus, you can find his post here, if you understand Japanese 🙂

Les deux alpes
Jundai express 1 & 2 take you to 3200m
Les Deux Alpes
The view at 3600m, Les Deux Alpes

The village has so much to offer!  Cinema, bowling, post office, library, museum, pool, restaurants, shopping, … And the shuttle service is so convenient.  If I had one week here, I would be able to explore more.  I heard there were short tours to other close-by villages.  So, besides skiing, there are still a lot to do here in Les 2 Alpes!  And thanks to the high altitude, skiing is even possible in the summer (above 3200m)!

Now, I want to compare Les 2 Alpes with some ski resorts in USA.  I lived on the east coast, so you know immediately that there are no comparable ski resort to Les 2 Alpes!  The skiable area is much much smaller, the slopes are much much shorter,… ok no way to compare with the vast Alpes.  Let me just introduce some ski resorts in USA – in Virginia and West Virginia.  The best ski resort we have been to is Snowshoe Mountain ski resort, which is said to be the largest in the mid-Atlantic.  We liked it!  The village is built on the top of the mountain.  We watched sunrise from our room!  Next level ski resorts are Beach Mountain, Sugar Mountain, and Wintergreen.  The smallest we have been to is Cataloochee.  Often, they have to use snow-making machines to maintain the slopes.  Although the ski resorts in USA are much smaller, the price is higher (~30%)!  Especially in the holidays and weekends!  Very crowed as well.  Maybe Colorado is a different story!  When we were in Snowshoe, somebody (a lift sharer) told us about The West with an expression of excitement – looked like Snowshoe was nothing to him (in contrast, we were already amazed by Snowshoe).  Now after seeing the Alpes, I felt like I could understand that guy a bit…

Alpes is Alpes.  I am glad my baby saw it as well.  And, we will come back!

Lastly, just one comment about the pregnancy.  Based on my experience, a few hours at high altitude seemed fine.  But it’s just me!  Anyway it should not be recommended.  My husband was scared.  Poor him.

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Stuffs to prepare for the delivery day and hospital stay

First of all, documents:

  1. Passport, ID
  2. Family book
  3. Social security card (Carte Vitale) and complementary health insurance (mutuelle)
  4. Residence permit (carte de sejour)
  5. Blood type card (carte de groupe sanguin)
  6. Echographies, medical results
  7. Forms to be sent to social security for the baby (to be added under your social security)

 

Secondly, stuffs for the baby:

Stuffs to prepare for baby

The delivery day                                           The following days

  1. One body                                                           Six
  2. One pajama                                                      Six
  3. One sweater                                                    Four
  4. One hat                                                              Two
  5. One sleeping bag
  6.                                                                                 One bag of diapers (2-5 kg)
  7.                                                                                 One bag of cotton pads
  8.                                                                                 One thermometer

+ socks + comforter                                      + socks + comforter

.                                                                                + thermometer for bath

.                                                                                + clothes for leaving

 

Thirdly, stuffs for the mom:

 

Stuffs to prepare for mom on the delivery day

The delivery day                                           The following days

  1. Water spray
  2.                                                                                 Sanitary napkin (night)
  3.                                                                                 Maternity disposable briefs

+ nightwear                                                       + things for the restroom

 

Based on what’s available in the hospital, different hospitals ask for different things.   The list I described above is from my hospital (CHU Grenoble).

 

Lastly, some additional stuffs that I prepared:

Additional stuffs for the stay in the hospital

  1. Cream for nipples (for breastfeeding)
  2. Cotton breast pads (for breastfeeding)
  3. Antispasmodic drugs to deal with contractions (to tell if it’s labor)
  4. Dry shampoo

 

Yes quite a lot of stuffs!  And there are more for the home… I probably need to write another blog 😉

 

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8 classes of preparation for the childbirth – one benefit of being pregnant in France

Comparing to most other European countries, France has a higher birth rate.  This is partly due to the maternity benefits that French families are enjoying.  Social security covers all the cost beginning from the 6th month of pregnancy (unless you choose private hospitals/clinics). Besides that, pregnant women get one time free dental examination, and 8 lessons of preparation for the childbirth, which is the focus of this post.

I just finished all the 8 lessons earlier this week!  In my case, my sage-femme (midwife) in the hospital referred me to this SF liberal who gives lessons (most importantly, she speaks English).  It’s a one-on-one class.  I don’t know if it’s always like this in Grenoble, or it’s because I don’t speak French.  Each class is one hour.  The first class, or meeting, was for the SF to gather information of us, and to schedule the other 7 classes.  I had two classes every week.  The topics were:

  • When to go to the hospital (for delivery), signs of the labor
  • Breastfeeding
  • What will happen in the hospital (on the delivery day), the process of labor
  • Breathing, exercises using the birthing ball
  • What can go wrong
  • Practice how to push
  • Life after the childbirth, the recovery, what will my body be like

Of course, we also discussed the questions and concerns that I had.  For example, she also helped me to look through the list of things to prepare for the delivery day (I will talk about the list in another post).  One hour is actually very short.  We often finish before we notice 🙂

I think the classes are very helpful, because she’s familiar with that hospital, and she can explain everything to me in English!  Before the classes, I knew nothing, and I was a little scared.  Especially that there’s the language barrier… what if I could not understand them, and I did not know what to do… what if there’s a decision to be made…  Now I feel much better!  After finishing the classes and watching a video of the maternity at the hospital, I have an idea of the whole process, who will be there with me, and where it will take place.  In addition, now I have confidence that they will do the best for me, that they will keep the delivery as natural as possible, that they will only do what’s necessary, and that they will not push me to do the cesarean section just because of their personal schedules.

Again, the classes are covered by social security, so don’t miss out this benefit.    You will always learn something!  Of course, it will be better if the husband can be there as well, especially for the exercises using the birthing ball.  The SF is right – it makes a bit difference if the husband hears things from other people.

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Living in France: got to be able to speak some French

My first experience of the French culture was the 11 days in Ottawa, Canada.  Both English and French are official languages there, so it was not difficult.  I could just read the English signs, and talk to people in English.  However, when I went to Montréal, it’s a totally different world!   Everything is only in French.  I couldn’t figure out how to use the metro.  And when I asked people for directions, the answer I got was in French.  Luckily the body language always works in a similar way.

Now I am in France.  I am not a tourist.  I am living here.

The Paris airport is not a problem – they even show Chinese and Japanese.  But the moment I stepped onto the ground of Grenoble, I knew things were different.  Fortunately, my husband has been to Grenoble several times (for research work), so he knew how to use the tram.

We have had difficulties in the supermarket.  We did not know the French words for body lotion… We bought the wrong meat for cooking… We couldn’t understand the casher at all…  But still, the hospital has been a bigger challenge.  At the beginning, I could not even respond to the question asking for my last name.  Scheduling an appointment has never been easy for us!  The other thing is that even the websites are only in French… (you would think that the internet might be more international, wouldn’t you?)

My conclusion is that in France looking for an English-speaking person is as difficult as looking for a Chinese-speaking person.

Some people say that French people don’t like to speak English, that they are rude.  I don’t agree.  I feel French people are quite nice, and they are trying hard to communicate with me.  It’s just that they cannot speak English, like I cannot speak French.  However, I cannot deny that I am a little surprised by the fact that the majority of population in this western country do not understand English (at all).  I thought English was widely used in the whole Europe.  Or maybe France is the exception?  I heard Finnish people spoke English.

Such a non-English environment provides the best opportunities to learn French!  We learned some basics on Duolingo (a very nice app).  But that’s still far from enough.  I found listening and speaking extremely difficult.  Even if I know every single word in the sentence, connecting all the words together sounds quite different.  Now we know we are moving to Finland soon, so we have less motivation to learn French…  However, if we ever return to France, I want to be able to speak French!

 

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Life in Grenoble – about the initial settling down and necessarities

We have been living in Grenoble for almost four months now.  During most of the time, we are distracted by paperwork and by my pregnancy.  But still, we are learning and enjoying living here, every single day.  Hopefully, our experience will help people who are coming to Grenoble.

Housing.  Not much that I can talk about, because we live in a friend’s friend’s house.  We occupy the so called basement – it’s actually the ground floor, or first floor.  The first floor in France equals the second floor in USA.  We pay a rent, which includes utilities, so I cannot tell you much about the utility companies either.  For us, sharing a house with the landlord is the best choice, because we knew we wouldn’t be here for long.  Plus, I have always enjoyed this mode of housing in USA!  I have had great landlords/friends!  We fell in love with the current house at the first sight.  Our rooms are spacious and decorated with art.  We later found out that our landlords, a retired French couple, are writer and artist!

Food.  Big supermarkets (hypermarché) are out of the city center, but there are many smaller supermarkets in every neighborhood.  Common brands are: Casino, Carrefour City, Carrefour market, Simply, and Monoprix.  We go to Simply most, because there are two of them close to our home.  I find Simply is also cheaper than the other supermarkets.  But more importantly, Simply seems to have better selections of vegetables.  We like the Chinese cabbage and white radish (daikon) there!  Most vegetables one finds in the supermarkets in USA are available here in Grenoble.   Other than from supermarkets, one can buy vegetables and fruits (and even seafood) in farmers’ market.  These markets have designated locations.  Some have specific days when they’re there.  For example, there is a small market close to our home.  I noticed that vendor #1 is there almost everyday, but vendor #2, who has more selections, is only there during the weekends.  We like to get Fuji apples from vendor #2.  The vegetables in these markets tend to be fresher.  If you are from Asia, then you have to check out the Asian supermarket called Le Carré Asiatique.  They have good sushi rice, and stuffs like cooking wine, soy sauce, noodles…  There are also frozen food: raw shrimps, hot pot stuffs (fish balls, thin-sliced meat, etc.), and dumpings.  Not much vegetables though.  No meat.  They have prepared food, but it’s a bit sweet.  We always take bus C5 to go there.  My husband has to carry 10kg of rice (€38), every month.  Oh, to get Japanese stuffs, Ozenya in the downtown is also a good choice.  Everything is imported from Japan, so don’t be surprised by the price.

Banks.  We are using Society Générale, because it’s only five minutes away from our home.  To open an account, they ask for the work contract, proof of residence (a water bill, etc.) and documents that show you are living in France legally.  They will give you an IBAN number, which is used for getting salary and paying for the health insurance (mutuelle).  If you want, you can get a credit card (actually more like a debit card!) for a small fee, ~ €5 per month.  Yes, banks in France will charge you for services!  Cash back? Rewards? Forget about it.  The other thing annoys us is that they set a low spending/withdrawing limit for us.  I am already used to getting refused with online shopping, and I even experienced getting declined in supermarkets.  So, I always bring my US credit card with me.  One more point, Discover card is not accepted in France (unfortunately).  Other cards seem to be fine.

Transportation.  One thing I love about Grenoble is the tram system.  I simply love trams!  They are clean, fast, and cute.  Every tram station has a vending machine for tickets.  In 2017, one ticket is €1.5, ten tickets are €14, and thirty tickets are €39.  One ticket is valid for an hour, so you can transfer, or you can even do a round trip if time allows.  At the tram station, there are tickets validating stands.  You can insert the ticket, and the machine will print out the time of validation.  There’s nobody checking tickets.  However, they do random checks on the trams.  I heard the fine was €400!  Anyways, please buy tickets. The same tickets can also be used on buses.  You validate the ticket when you board the bus.  The same one hour rule applies as well.  If the ticket is validated for a second time within an hour, the machine will only print a * mark after the previous validation.  We have not tried transferring between trams and busses, yet.  Nowadays, my husband is using the APP (Tag &a Pass) for the transportation.  He just needs to scan the QR code on the validation stands.  Each trip is €1.4, but the total amount tops at €59 per month.  There are other monthly plans/passes as well.  One thing I want to mention is that sometimes the trams and busses are free to encourage people to use public transportation.  This happens when the air condition is bad!  Last winter, there were more than ten free days.  The information is broadcasted in tram stations, on trams and on their website.  The other thing is that you can use APP (MetroMobilite) to check the time of trams and busses.  They are pretty much on time!  The train station (also a bus terminal for long distance buses), Gare de Grenoble, is located close to the downtown.  It is served by tram A & B.  One can go to Paris in just three hours by a TGV.

Cell phones.  Common carriers are Free, SFR, and Orange.  All of them can be found in downtown.  Free seems to be the cheapest, but the coverage is not as good.  For us, we don’t make phone calls, because we don’t speak French!  Plus, we spend most of time in places covered by wifi.  So we decided to try the €2 plan first, which includes 100 min calling and 50 MB data.  Looks like it’s enough for us.  In some places, there’s Free wifi network.

Laundry.  There are laundry shops (laverie) in the neighborhood.  Washing and drying take about an hour, and cost ~€5 (for a small load).  I usually do laundry by hand, but for big things such as bed sheets I go to shops.  If you have washer and dryer at home, that’s great.  If not, it’s not the end of world.  I saw many people went to laundry shops.

Electronics.  One necessary thing is the hair dryer.  It is not found in small supermarkets.  We bought one in Darty.  For computer kind of stuffs, Fnac is the place to go.

Clothes.  We are not that into fashion, especially that I am pregnant.  For the price, one may want to check out Kiabi and H&M.  For styles, there are Galleries Lafayette and many brand shops in the downtown.  Oh by the way, the center of the downtown is around Victor Hugo and Maison de Tourism.  Tram A and B go through the downtown.  For babies, one big store is called Autour de Bebe.

Post office.  It is often necessary to use mails.  For example, to cancel the health insurance (mutuelle), you must write to the company, and you must use a special service that gives you a proof of the delivery (lettre recommandée avec avis de réception).  To do that, there’s a form (yellow color) where you write down the recipent’s address and yours.  Stamps are sold on self-service machines.  Weight the letter on the scale, select the type of service, pay (by card or coins), and then you will get the stamp.  If it’s special service, then hand the letter to the counter.  Otherwise, go outside to find the mail box, and deposit the letter (pay attention to which box to use for the correct destination).

These should be enough for the beginning.  I will update if I come up with something else.

 

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Declaration of pregnancy and CAF

CAF stands for caisses d’allocations familiales, and it belongs to social security system.  Declaration of pregnancy to CAF (and to the health insurance company if you have mutuelle) is necessary.  Theoretically it needs to be done before 14 weeks, but sometimes it’s just impossible.   For me, it’s almost 25 weeks.  The form, so called “nous attendez un enfant”, was from the sage femme or midwife.   She wrote the DDG and signed it.  Then I filled the personal information including the temporary social security number, and mailed the form to CAF.  (BTW, two copies of the form mailed to CAF, and one copy mailed to the health insurance company.)  Actually the distance from our home to CAF and to La Poste is similar.  But I suppose going through La Poste is faster than making a RDV (appointment).

About two weeks after mailing out the form, we got our CAF number.  And since then, our “conversation” with CAF has been going on and on.  They have requested these information/documents in separate mails:   (1) more personal information (declaration de situation); (2) birth certificate; (3) declaration of income in 2015; (4) residence permit (sejour).  I always try to respond as soon as I can, then there’s long wait.  Now I am still waiting for them to process the documents I sent three weeks ago, and I don’t know what they will ask for next time.  Anyway, it’s interesting.

CAF is slow, but who is not?  At least CAF helps people.  It gives financial help to families in need.  Students without income can get assistance on housing (Aides au lodgment).  And in the case of pregnancy, CAF gives “prime a la naissance” to families to welcome their babies, and babies can get monthly allowance afterwards!  These benefits are granted and calculated based on the situation of the family.  We are not expecting anything, because we are very grateful for the health insurance already.

 

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In France, Laboratory and Pharmacy are independent from Hospitals

Here is what I know about the healthcare system in France.  Everybody register with a family doctor – a généraliste.  In most cases, people go through the family doctor for treatments so that the cost will be properly reimbursed.  I heard it’s also easier to get an appointment with a specialist through the family doctor.  In the case of maternity, however, it’s not necessary to go through the family doctor.  We don’t have a family doctor, and we went directly to see a sage-femme (midwife).

People go to laboratories to do various tests and scans requested by doctors or other healthcare professionals.  There may or may not be laboratories in or close to the hospital.   Seems like laboratories are independent from hospitals.  People can have their own choices of laboratories to have the tests done.  In my case, the SF gives me a paper, which lists the blood test and urine test to be done.  She uses a hospital stamp, and also signs on the paper.  In the laboratory, I give that paper and my health insurance card to the register.  And then, they will take samples for the tests, and give me an instruction about how to get the results online.  By the way, they will confirm my birthday, because it’s the password to access the results online.

Similar to the laboratories, pharmacies are also independent from hospitals.  There are so many pharmacies around the city.  Just show them the prescription paper and the health insurance card.  Depends on the type of medicine, the reimbursement percentage varies.  I have had Fe and vitamin D supplement, which are 100% covered by social security and mutuelle.  In comparison, for the pain reliever (to take during the irregular contractions at home), only 15% is covered.

One important thing if you do not have the carte vitale yet.  After all, it takes months to get the carte vitale, even with best luck!  The temporary social security number on the health insurance card (from mutuelle company) should work as well!  But some people in the laboratories and pharmacies may not know that!  For me, the first visit to the laboratory took me more than half an hour to register.  Partly due to the language barrier, but mainly because she did not know about the temporary social security number.  At last I took out the form of Declaration of Pregnancy that I was about to mail to CAF, and somehow she believed in that form (filled by us) more than the health insurance card.  After that, my visit to the same laboratory has been easy and fast, although they still ask me whether I have the carte vitale every time I go.  Similar things also happened to me in a pharmacy.  People in one pharmacy insist to see the carte vitale.  So I went to a different pharmacy, where people (not all) there know what to do.

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Echographie in France: Un garçon!

In France, échographie is typically done three times during the whole pregnancy.  First in the 3rd month; second in the 5/6th month; third in the 8th month.  I did the first échographie in China.  Actually I did three times in China… within one and a half months.  They only checked very briefly though (a couple of minutes), probably because it’s the early stage.

After the first meeting with my sage-femme (SF), it’s the right time for me to do the second échographie.  It was done in the same hospital, CHU.  The purpose was to estimate the delivery day, and to examine if there’s any abnormality.  A SF and a student performed the échographie.  The student speaks some English 🙂

It took more than half an hour!  They did very careful examination, and explained to us what we were looking at.  Suddenly, they asked us whether we wanted to know the sex of the baby.  We nodded.  Un garçon!  A boy!  Although we were not sure how they could tell, we were quite excited.  In the end, they provided a detailed report containing many photos.  Due to the positioning of the baby, they could not get everything that they needed.  Plus, the size of the baby seemed smaller than expected (based on DDR).  Therefore, they suggested to do another échographie, which was done in the following week.  Also, they said the first échographie done in China should be more accurate to estimate the DDG, so a translated report would be helpful.  In fact, there’s only one measurement in the Chinese report – LCC.  Based on that LCC, the SF estimated a new DDG, and she thought the size of the baby was okay.  We were kinda relieved.

I did the third échographie at 33w+3d.   Again, the SF measured a lot of things, and everything seemed normal.  The calculated weight of the baby was ~1900g (25~50% in their database).  The positioning of the baby was good, which I was very pleased to know.

Oh, I forgot to mention that after the second échographie, they somehow could construct a photo of the baby’s face.  Will our baby truly look like that?

 

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Meetings with the sage-femme – monthly checks during the pregnancy

After getting our temporary social security numbers and mutuelle numbers, the first thing we did was to make an appointment with a sage-femme (SF) in the hospital.  A friend helped us with that as we cannot speak French.  Grenoble is not very big, so we could get an appointment pretty soon (a week from the call).

It took us 10 minutes to find the hospital… Then, we went to the Accueil.  The lady there cannot speak English, but we slowly got what we needed to do.  There’s a room with several counters, and they are calling numbers (later we knew it’s the registration place, where the payment is taken care of).  People outside are waiting to be called in.  So we also got a number.  When it’s our turn, we went in and showed that we had an appointment with XXX.  There’s a young lady who speaks English, so she helped to put in all the information.  Basically she only asked for my passport and the health insurance info.  After that, she printed out a paper that has many stickers with my name and date of birth.   We were glad that we could use the health insurance (social security takes care of 70%, and mutuelle pays for the rest).

Paperwork was done.  We went to the consultation section.  There’s a small Accueil.  Again we said we were here to see XXX, and we showed the paper with stickers.  We were then pointed to a waiting area.  Around the agreed time, somebody came to the waiting area, and called my last name.  She was the SF!  Luckily she speaks a little English!  Since it’s our first meeting, she asked a lot of questions about our medical history and our families.  She also checked my condition (blood pressure etc.).  In the end, she gave me a list of tests need to be done in a laboratory, scheduled the next meeting, and asked us to go to that small Accueil to schedule an echography.

After that first meeting, we are kinda familiar with the hospital and the processes: where to register, where to wait, and where to schedule for appointments.  Then, after the pregnancy proceeded to the seventh month, the registration place put a pink note on the paper with stickers.  They told me that I did not need to register any more – just go to see the SF or doctor.  So, it seems like the registration place only deal with payment.  Since social security covers all the cost after the 6th month of pregnancy, no registration is needed.  For each meeting, the SF takes away one sticker, not the whole paper.

Up till now, we have had four meetings with the SF.  During the meetings, she checks my weight, blood pressure, tummy, and listens to the heart beat of the baby.  She logs all the information and the results of laboratory tests into the computer.  For me, I ask questions, and I tell her how I feel.  She prescribes Fe (every month), vitamin D (once), blood test -sugar (once), urine test -sugar/protein (every month after the 6th month), and blood test -toxoplasmose (every month).  Everything seems going well.  She also introduced us to a SF liberal for the classes (100% covered by social security), and gave us a lot of information on how to prepare for the big day, for example, what number to call when the time comes.  She is really helpful!

 

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