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My Birth Story in France

Ira Hannemann

Well, this is my last morning in the Clinic where I gave birth, which means that this is probably my last moment to sit down and write for a while. I am not a good journal keeper to begin with and so I am happy that I am actually sitting down and doing it.

(one week prior- walking King Tama to school!)

I am really excited to tell you how the French System of delivering babies works and the experience of a French Clinic! It really is unique and such a treat to get to experience it first hand. I am telling you, it makes me want to have as many kids as I can before we leave! Shem, what do you think? Ha.  Before I get into the details of that, I thought I would take a moment to write about my birthing experience.

On December 10th I was bustling around like usual trying to get things ready for Christmas, my parents coming, the baby and just every-day type of things. I was so excited about everything and anxious to be prepared (my parents are now here) and on this particular night my mom commented, “Andrea, you are basically crawling to get up, just lay down.”  I kept thinking, ” no no, I am fine, just a busy day that’s all”. Besides it’s the end of pregnancy, feeling a little bit of contractions and what not is normal, right?”

The next day my mom and I were out all day. I wanted to show her everything and have her try different treats and see the Christmas Market and get a feel for Bordeaux. We were bustling around, having a great time, and at the end of the day while walking home I was in crazy pain but didn’t really say much. When we got home the floor in the kitchen looked so nice just to lay on. I was laying on the floor shivering and feeling completely zonked but just thought, “well this is the end of pregnancy, of course I am going to feel ‘un-peppy’ and have discomforts.”  That night my contractions were getting so strong that I started to think, ‘could it be time?’ My fear was in being wrong and the doctors sending me back home, so I didn’t make a fuss.

Thank goodness my mom was there because she finally said, “Andrea! Enough! You are in labor, you need to go now!” Meanwhile my dad sitting there says, “but you look fine, you are saying you are in pain but by looking at you, I would never guess”. (This has actually always been a problem for me… I don’t seem to know how to express pain well, so until I’m on some sort of a ‘death bed’, or my arm is in a cast, that’s when my family is like, ‘Oh I guess you were in pain…” It’s a problem! Ha.

Meanwhile, for the past couple of days, Shem has had a bad fever and super sick upstairs. I went up and told him I think we needed to go to the hospital, something is happening. He kind of slummed it off. I don’t blame him; how is he suppose to know when he is so sick that getting up to go to the bathroom is a chore. Everyone has probably experienced that right? But in that moment I could care less how he was feeling!  This burst of anger came roaring out saying, “just suck it up!!! We are going now.” I felt like I was turning into a beast in seconds! Aaaah! The whole drive to the hospital I was sitting there crying in silence with the pain thinking, ‘what the heck, if this isn’t labor, then I never want to experience it because this is crazy. I had romanticized the whole experience of going into labor to be much different, to say the least!

We get to the hospital, I am wiping away tears, they check us in and hook me up. Sure enough I was having contractions every few minutes but only dilated to a two. What I didn’t understand is why they weren’t telling me, “its not time, go back home.”

My doctor, who is also my neighbor, just kept saying in what seemed to me a playful tone was, “I don’t think your baby is coming tonight, but you need to stay here!”  He kept repeating, “you are staying here tonight, ok?” and then playfully ordering, “you need to stay away from Shem! He’s sick!”

By this time I had been hooked up to an IV, had blood samples drawn and who knows what else. They also gave me something that slowed the contractions down and I finally started to feel okay.

That night my doctor was checking up on me constantly; just popping his head in saying, “ça va? you okay? Okay good! See you!”  I thought nothing of it. I just thought he was being really nice. He would joke and say, “you’re staying here and maybe tomorrow you can leave but you will stay at my home. You need to stay away from Shem!” I would just laugh thinking, “ya ya of course, can’t get sick at this point..!”

It turns out what they weren’t telling me was that they found an infection in my blood that was causing me to have contractions, which in turn was putting the baby under a lot of stress and his heart rate was out of control. That’s why they were monitoring me so closely.

The next day early in the morning, nurses wheeled me into the delivery room.  I asked in my little French, “today we are having the baby?” And they say sweetly in French, “yes, right now!” I thought, “oh cool! Great! This is exciting, lets do it!” Yes I was scared, but I mean its going to happen eventually so let’s just get’r done, right!?


(In France…no ice chips… MIST! They’ve thought of everything!)

I call Shem to tell him we are having a baby today! Come down! So he rushed on over, and a few hours later plus 10 minutes of actual pushing with my midwife yelling in French hysterically,  “push push push push, stop, okay push push push push!” ( Thank goodness Shem was there translating at times because sometimes I didn’t know what she was telling me to do! Haha. It was pretty hilarious to me at the time.

About the third or fourth push with Shem by my side, my doctor asked me  to grab the baby once his head was out (which kind of shocked me) but I reached down –and scared as can be– grabbed our little baby and pulled him out and onto my chest. I burst into tears.

Seeing this perfect little being for the first time like that was just the most thrilling emotional thing I have ever experienced. You know, you wonder that whole time, is there really a baby in there? Will he be healthy? All these questions you think about and hope for and then to see him for the first time like that was just so humbling and beautiful.  There he was, my precious little Ira was laying on my chest! It was a beautiful experience.

The next day my doctor came to visit and say Hi (you stay in a French clinic for 4 days normally) and he told me (after questioning him about everything prior to giving birth) that one more hour with Ira in the state that he was in, in my womb and I would have been  rushed in for an emergency c-section and they would hope for the best….

Turns out I have the phenomena virus which was causing complete havoc in my body and I was about an hour away from possibly loosing Ira…  The virus is still in my body but I am under the most wonderful watch of health care professionals and I feel great– and I plan on keeping it that way.

I am sitting here writing with tears soaking my face and Ira sleeping in my lap with so much happiness and love. Every time I look at his sweet little face and see this perfectly healthy little boy and think… what if… what if we didn’t go to the hospital? What if I didn’t have good health care… what if I lost him? It shatters my heart and makes me so thankful for every blessing in my life and I am overly humbled and grateful that one of those blessings gets to be a second son– a precious addition to our little family.  I couldn’t be happier.

I am so so thankful for my parents being here and helping us so much. My mom and dad, I know have been running around the house, getting things in order again, taking care of Tama, getting him to school, making meals, getting extra things for the baby… they have done everything!

I am thankful for an incredible husband who even in his worst condition has been supportive, amazing, and feeling every feeling that I have this past week.

I am so thankful for my  Tama who just loves having a little brother! It melts my heart! For those of you that know Tama, he was NOT wanting a baby brother for a good part of my pregnancy. Ha.  He was instantly intrigued and is obsessed with him and its so fun to watch.

And I am incredibly thankful for my doctor who has taken such good care of me this entire time and has gone above and beyond to help me and my family. Gosh, he saved our babies life and acts like its nothing! And then his wife comes and brings gifts the next day and now throwing a little dinner party! They are amazing people that I, along with Shem, love very very much. It’s too bad my French is so bad. They may not ever realize how much they mean to me.

So yes, for a rough beginning to the week, it ends in pure bliss, with a new child and a bright exciting future! I know I keep saying this, but I really couldn’t be happier. Unless Shem gets me this perfume that I really want for Christmas… hint hint.. he he. Just kidding, kinda, sorta, not really. ;).

Also on a lighter note… I can’t wait to share what its like to stay in one of these French Birthing Clinics! It is kind of insane how awesome it is.

Much love and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

A tout a l'heure

Here are a few pictures!

(proud papa!)

Meeting for the first time, and shy to give him the puppy he’s been waiting months to give him. He picked it out at a cute second hand baby shop right by our house). This was a precious moment!

Grandma! My parents are visiting for the holidays!

Waiting for him to open his eyes to see the present he got him!

Happy momma

Sleep my “petite crevette!”- as the French like to say!

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Posted on by Andrea in Living in France We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

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