Saturday, October 25, 2008

I survived

First week back at work, even if it is just mornings. The hardest part is probably getting up early (ironically she’s sleeping so much better now). Then driving too work while it’s still dark. But that way I finish by 12 and can usually be back home with baby by 1. That does make it much easier. I can feel that I’m different from the casual worker I was before baby arrived. In the past I could shoot the breeze with colleagues without looking at my watch so much. Now I know I’ve got to pick up baby (a positive thing, don’t get me wrong). I don’t go on and on about her at work, because I don’t want to be one of those moms who bores everyone with stories. But I do steal sneaks at her pictures now and then.

Baby seems to be adjusting quite well to Tata Marie’s place. My husband and I notice she smiles quite easily for the sitter, and we wonder if we need to learn some tricks to get the same reaction at home. She’s getting to know the little world of folks that frequent the sitter’s home. Her husband, Laurent (that’s Tonton (uncle) Laurent for baby), her sons, their wives, her granddaughters. Nearly everytime I pick her up for lunch there’s a crowd of folks eating roast beef or neatly rolled slices of hams and tomatoes. I ask the sitter how she finds the time to do all this and watch three children (or four or five including her grandkids). Oh, a question of organization, she says. I mostly just open cans of tuna for dinner lately. Why can’t I be organized like that? Plus her house is spotless and her laundry always smells fabulously fresh. I think she must be a fairy godmother.

I can’t say I’m totally adjusted. I still think wistfully of those days when I had nothing on my agenda except baby’s bath, feedings, a little jaunt to the pharmacy and Monoprix for bread. Even though some of those days I was very sleep-deprived and lonely for company. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone .

Saturday, October 18, 2008


This past week baby spent two mornings with the sitter to get her (and me) used to it. I had tried to prepare myself for it (mostly by crying a lot beforehand) and I’d been telling baby that she was going to visit Tatie Marie. The first morning arrived and I reminded baby again about the day’s plan. My voice got funny though and I tried not to let tears drip on her. She stopped her feeding and I swear looked at me as if I had two heads. Then my husband and I took her to the sitter.

I was able to speak coherently for a few minutes to give some information to the sitter and then it got to me again. So with an awkward kiss on baby’s head, I left before I started disturbing baby more. She wasn’t crying at all, which prompted my husband to joke (not for the first time) that maybe I should stay at the sitter’s and baby should go to work.

Back at home I tried to keep busy, by writing emails (yeah, I’m good at that), doing the dishes, etc. I didn’t linger too much on things like smelling baby’s clothes as I knew that would lead to more tears. I did print out a picture of baby to have in my wallet so once I’m back in the working world I can take a look at her easily (and show her off to others).

The sitter had told me to call some time in the morning to see how baby was doing (she must know how much the moms want to call!). So around 10 I checked on her and she’d taken her bottle and was being fairly calm. Then I headed out to get my hair cut, something which is tough to do with a baby in tow. As I waited to get my hair washed I caught up on celebrity news in a magazine. And when I saw an ad with a little girl I wondered instinctively if baby would look like her one day. That brought a tear or two so I tried to think of other things.

So one cut and “brushing” later, I emerged with neater though very straight hair. I walked back home and debated when I should go pick baby up without seeming too eager. But oh heck, I went a bit early anyway to talk to the sitter and see how baby had done. She was resting calmly in Tatie Marie’s arms and apparently hadn’t cried too much and had even napped.

So we both survived. I suppose I did enjoy being able to get things done while she was with the sitter, but I felt a tiny bit guilty that someone else was taking care of her. And I think next week when I really have to leave her there every morning and go to work the reality will set in. Part of me wishes I could start all over again, from that moment in the hospital when they showed her to me. And I swear I wouldn’t stress as much and I would enjoy every minute. Well, instead I’ll just have to vow to enjoy every minute from now on.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I packed a whopping two boxes so I’ve earned the right to write on my blog. I’m still in denial that I’m moving to a new apartment (albeit gradually, not all in one weekend) some time by the end of this month. I’m mildly excited about the second room, though it will be strange not having baby just beside our bed as she is now. Plus the building is completely new. But that could be a bad thing considering our demon cat will no doubt put his scratches on the pristine linoleum and we can’t pretend they have always been there.

I’m also the type of person who gets used to her environment and is afraid to change it. Maybe I did make a BIG environmental change in coming to France, but I still feel strange changing even within the same country, or city, as in this case. I can walk to the new place in perhaps 15 minutes, to show you how close it is. But my daily life and surroundings will nonetheless shift.

My pharmacy is gonna be a bit too far to trek to by foot, as I mentioned before so I’ll choose a different one. And my nearly daily trips to my favorite upscale grocery store (Monoprix) when I’ve just run out of butter will become rarer. I will replace it with CocciMarket, which seems to have a smaller range of products from what I could tell by glancing in the windows. I did spot a lovely bakery/patisserie which could become very dangerous to my waistline.

And I think I’m going to miss some of my current neighbors. We’ve actually got some friendly folks in our building now, the majority of them being retirees. There’s the former pharmacist lady who still has that very professional and smiley way of saying “Au revoir” or “Have a good evening” that is typical of shopkeepers. The white-haired lady who’s 86 and walks literally at a snail’s pace with her little sack on wheels. And the extremely cooky one who all but pledged her allegiance to an infamous German dictator in our presence. She does have his book in her living room. Whatever I can say about her political leanings, she has kindly watched our demon cat twice when we went on vacation. Plus, she doesn’t mind when he jumps over to “visit” her balcony.

I guess I’ll just have to accept the fact that I’ll be in transition for a while. And slowly but surely I’ll create my new world on the other side of the city.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ma pharmacie

The other week I noticed baby’s nose was running. In typical new mom worry mode, I decided a dash to the pharmacy was in order. So out we went at 6:30 p.m. to pay yet another visit to my friendly pharmacy. I was almost ashamed to show my face there again since sometimes it seems I’m there three times a week. What with prescriptions for myself or baby or just general questions like that one. On that occasion the kind pharmacy lady who has two young kids herself recommended the “mouche bébé”- a high tech system of blowing baby’s nose for her by aspirating it (cotton filter prevents you from ingesting it!).

In the two years that I’ve lived in this city, this little pharmacy has become a cozy and helpful place for me. Since I only fill my prescriptions there, they know my drug history and I can talk to them easily. They saw me pre-baby, pregnant and now post-baby. When I took baby there after getting out of the hospital, it was sort of like showing her to “family”.

But when I first arrived in France I was rather surprised or even disappointed with the system here (and there are still things I gripe about). Back in the good old US of A you can buy aspirin at a quick mart. Here it is only available in pharmacies and more often than not it’s behind the counter so you have to ASK for it. Don’t even think about the Wal-Mart generic bottle of 500 pills. And heaven help you if you need to buy something like Immodium. You’re gonna have to ask for it and thus openly admit that you (or someone in your household) needs it. As if it’s not bad enough to just have to take these types of things to the cash register. Add to this limited French skills and not knowing the brands here and having to explain symptoms…

But the French government thinks that if they sold aspirin in supermarkets that people would misuse it. That we need a real pharmacist to sell it to us to avoid intoxication. Never mind that nine times out of ten when you buy it at a pharmacy you don’t even ask about the side effects or say why you need it.

But I suppose the longer I live here the more I get used to these little idiosyncrasies that are La France! And it’s mostly the warm staff at my pharmacy that make it so pleasant to go there. I even told them with regret that I’ll be moving to a different side of town so would have to change pharmacies. They tried to tell me a diagonal way to get there, but it would be a longer trek. No, I’ll just have to break in a new little pharmacy. They’ll be seeing a lot of me!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What the future holds

The days that seemed so far off before baby was born are now approaching too fast. Like the return to work, which in itself isn’t so terrible since I like my colleauges. It’s more the fact that I won’t be spending all my time with baby. Last week I had to face reality since I took her to meet the sitter. She’s part of an organization in our city where the sitters are certified and once a week or so they go to the center for play groups. And last Thursday it was the monthly visit from the pediatrician, so we had to establish baby’s file there.

So Tatie Marie (auntie Marie) was happy to meet her new charge. She said baby was pretty (I guess I’m prejudiced so I never know if it’s really true or not) and kissed her on the cheek. After the weighing and measuring of the kids, all the sitters took a coffee and chatted. Tatie Marie wanted to hold baby for a while, and she was very calm with the sitter. Just sort of looking around at the other kids. So strange for me to see her little face in someone else’s arms. From time to time it started getting to me so I tried to chat about anything and everything to not let too many tears escape.

I also met my baby’s new playmates, Thibaut (pronounced Tee-bo), a boy of six months with bright blue eyes, and Camille, a two year-old girl with brown curls. So my own little girl will be the youngest in the “family”. Who knows, maybe as she gets older, Thibaut could be her first little boyfriend.

As I sat there drinking my water, other kids came up to me and offered me plastic balls or put a plump hand on my knee as they passed by. I love that little warmth from toddlers. Everyone’s their friend or “mountain” to climb on. A sweet little Arabic boy with creamy brown skin walked by in his big boy onesie and said matter of factly, kaka. I could smell it in his diaper, too. Hard to believe my baby will be walking and talking in a time not so far off.

But for now we’ll just have to get through this transition. She’ll still be mine in the evenings and on weekends, of course. No, she’ll still be mine all the time!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crying, coohing, coughing

You can see baby's many moods here, as the title indicates. Only regret about this video is that she's all dressed in blue, but you know she's a girl anyway! She's also learning to turn on one side, just the left side for now. I'm not sure if she knows how to turn back though so she might get panicky.