Liberté, égalité, maternité: giving birth in France – Part 2

Maternity ShootIn my previous article, I talked about deciding to give birth in France instead of Finland, and in what ways my pregnancy  in ‘bleu-blanc-rouge’ met my expectations while expecting. Some problems arose, some were shrugged away, some confronted, and the pregnancy rolled on.

Now, I did have some long discussions on the subject of having kept my maiden name in marriage. Also, my ex-husband’s name lurked somewhere there in my files, and that raised some eyebrows as well. I noticed that the French were more traditional on the subject of the holy matrimony, and all that family name stuff.

I had to go through fire and brimstone of paperwork and lengthy explanations to  make them understand that although I had my maiden name, I was married, and my baby would get my husband’s family name after all. (Still, the day I gave birth, my daughter carried a label with my family name on it.)

When the happy day of birth arrived, it was actually night. We had since moved from our Ivry-sur-Seine home (with no running water and a mold problem) to a more family-friendly apartment in a mile radius. As Parisians, we didn’t have a car, and when my waters broke, we had to take the taxi. The only issue was, taxis don’t take birthing ladies in, for the fear of getting their car interior ruined and getting stuck in traffic and having to act as midwives. So I put a big over-coat on and pretended I was just a big-boned gal, asking the driver to drop us off a few blocks from the clinic.

Le TaxiAnd off I went to this adventure where the outcome is uncertain. There was a Senegalese mommy in the bed next to me, talking animatedly to a cell phone between contractions, and young French girl whimpering in agony while her mother-in-law shouted to the night-shift doctors. But I was, once again, in good hands.

It took way longer that it should, so in the end my daughter came out surgically, her slim neck arched, sighing ‘ah’ in a very French way. My surgeon did such a marvelous job, that now I have hardly a scar to show for it. And it turns out that my little girl was the first completely white-haired baby born in the Clinic Jean Rostand, ever.

Now as I’m preparing to take my second maternity leave, I’m no longer in Paris but in southern France. I am to give birth in a country hospital, where every room is a single one, and the sunflower fields can be seen from the labor room. My Finn family are happy with my decision to give birth in France. “Oh, they did such a wonderful job the first time!” My baby’s happily kicking away in her bubble universe. All is fine in the animal kingdom.

However, I have yet to convince the medical staff to write my maiden name down in my medical files. It’s got to be my husband’s name. They shake their heads and make up all kinds of lame excuses: “You know, what if there was a mix-up? What if yours was confused with another baby with the same name?”

20070812-IMG_3466Honestly. How many babies can there be, in this southern French country hospital, with the same unpronounceable Finnish name?

Image Credits :
1. Maternity Shoot by Justin Biehler on Flickr
2. Le taxi by Phil Moore on Flickr
3. Baby by Raphael Goetter on Flickr

About the Contributor

Milja Kaunisto

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