Where to begin, where to begin? I had some incomprehensible bloodwork results come back. Now, my French is fluent, but I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in medical jargon, even in English. But I’m too afraid to Google. Nevertheless, I had a bad feeling about the paragraph of text I couldn’t quite decipher.
Something about anemia, a lack of iron? Well I already take iron pills for that. Maybe I missed one or two before my blood test?
I waited a few days, expecting my gyno to call me and explain, but time went by and I decided to call his secretary. It turned out that my gyno had sent my results to a bigger lab in Paris for further analysis and had been waiting for their opinion before calling me.
He sure gave me a fright. I understood that I had a dire situation and that he could no longer do my check-ups, nor could I give birth in our small local hospital. I was to go to the university hospital in the nearest city for weekly—weekly!—ultrasounds to make sure my baby was okay and didn’t need to be removed immediately.
You get off a phone call like that, and your heart is racing, but your mind is going faster. In the days between that phone call and my first appointment at the university hospital (known colloquially in French as the chu, pronounced like shoe), I was rather stressed.
I felt I had to prepare logistically, if not mentally, to give birth in a matter of days. I rallied the troops. I called my boss, the nanny, and friends who I thought might be able to care for C if I were suddenly hospitalized.
Fortunately, Baby Deux is all fine. In a nutshell, two unusual situations combined to create a supremely rare one:
1) My blood became contaminated (actually known as sensitized) to fetal matter from one of my previous pregnancies. Don’t ask me how, because we’ll never know exactly.
2) Papa has a rare blood type (only about 9% of Caucausians) with K-positive antigens.
Since I’m a normal person, K-negative, my body is producing massive amounts of antibodies against my presumably K-positive baby. Basically, the “positive” means she has proteins on the surface of her red blood cells that my body will attack and remove.
This can cause fetal anemia or newborn hemolytic disease and could be fatal to the baby.
Like I said, in our visits to the chu so far, they’ve been able to confirm that Baby looks perfectly fine in there and by all accounts it looks like I’m having a normal pregnancy… if it weren’t for that bloodwork.
What they do is they measure the amount of liquid in my baby’s skull and also the speed at which blood is getting pumped through her brain. Ultrasounds are amazeballz.
If things looked dicey, my baby would need a blood transfusion in utero. We would have to transfer to an even larger hospital for that. Or, they would just induce me at the chu if it’s late enough in my pregnancy.
We feel like we’re in good hands with the specialists at the chu, and how great that we have access to this amazing FREE healthcare. I don’t wanna know what this would have cost us in America.
But for now it’s a weekly ultrasound for me. On the bright side, Papa can come with me to the visits, Covid be damned.
Aside from that… it’s the third trimester for me and it’s starting to really feel like it. I’m huffing and puffing during walks. I have back- and hip pain. It’s not easy to turn over in bed at night. In general I just feel like a fat waddling turkey. To prove it, random people are starting to notice that I’m pregnant, not just fat. They let me go ahead of them in line at the supermarket! I’d call that a win any day.
My teeth are a mess, too—I had 3 cavities! In France you get a free dental checkup when you are pregnant. I had expected to pay for the fillings too but even those were at no cost! Still, I’m not a fan of getting more fillings, so I’ve been forcing myself to brush and floss more often.
I even find that I’m forgetful a lot now. Pregnancy brain. I told Papa I am really struggling with not “performing” as well as I did pre-pregnancy where work is concerned. A task that would have taken me 10 minutes now takes closer to 30 or 40 because I just can’t concentrate, and I’ve got the memory of a goldfish. It’s pretty frustrating.
With so much uncertainty around my due date now (because the doctors surely won’t let me go past 37/38 weeks), I’ve been in overdrive with planning and nesting. Maybe you could tell based on the recent blog articles.
I transitioned C to a floor bed so that I could recover her crib for her little sister. I also potty trained her about a month later. This was more in preparation for school in September and to not coincide with the birth of her little sister.
For the new baby, I’ve been stocking up on supplies, organizing, and setting up the old baby equipment. Specifically, I set up a diaper station upstairs for those middle-of-the-night diaper explosions. I made room for baby clothes, which I also had to purchase because I had nothing for sizes 0-1 month. I also thought it wise to purchase the next size up for C in clothes and shoes. I didn’t want to have to do that with a newborn and with school starting. It feels good to have all that stuff in advance. I was so lucky, I got to purchase clothes from C’s nanny in size 4 years. She had loads! Now C is all set for an entire year’s worth of clothes. And as a bonus, her little sister will be able to wear the same items. What a relief to have to purchase clothes only once!
I am still sorting through some admin things, but that should be all fine soon. I’ve stocked up on non-baby items that we might need the first few months. I freed up a ton of space on my phone and then did the exact opposite again by downloading some movies I could watch from the hospital. My maternity suitcase is nearly packed, too.
I have a few odds and ends to buy—bibs, shelves, a few things for C. Baby’s playpen is in place, but we still need to modify our crib in the sidecar arrangement next to our bed. I need to ask at the garage if I can turn off the airbag in the front passenger seat so I can put the baby’s car seat up front with me. And of particular fun is the upcoming freezer meal extravaganza! I made about a dozen freezer meals when I was pregnant with C and they completely saved me in the weeks after she was born. I also really enjoyed the prep work. Nesting feels so good!
It might all sound extreme, but when you consider the fact that I have zero control over this new stressful situation with the blood type, it makes sense that I would want to get all my other ducks in a row so I can have as few things to think about as possible. When baby arrives, whenever the hell that is, I can be reasonably—maybe even completely or OVER—prepared.
Only about a month and half to go now…
If you missed earlier installments of my pregnancy series, or if you want to keep up with subsequent months as they are published, click here.
Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !