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Why it's NOT a good idea to have an "Urgence" in France

Travelling while heavily pregnant is actually not half as much fun as it sounds, especially when you find yourself needing a trip to the local hospital in rural France where no-one speaks a word of English! 


Now don't get me wrong - Stephen, Kayla and I absolutely LOVED our trip to France after Christmas - two weeks of sheer and utter heaven as we explored the Normandy countryside before heading south to the breath-taking Dordogne region with all the chateaux and castles. We ate a LOT, slept a lot, laughed a lot, and came home all gooey with having fallen in love with our little family all over again. We just didn't realise how hard it would be for me to travel with an enormously pregnant tummy, despite being only "just" within the 34-week cutoff time to fly home.

The first few days were actually perfect, until I began feeling a little grim towards the end of the first week. I had an annoying headache, sore throat, backache and sore tummy and generally felt like I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide (along with a stash of freshly baked chocolate croissants.) And then I began to wonder if I had a bladder infection - something I had when I was pregnant with Kayla, and something the doctors had warned me not to ignore in my last trimester as it could bring on early labour. A quick call to the local doctor (with our limited French) revealed that I needed to go straight to the hospital as no GP would see me in such an advanced state of pregnancy. Great.

So into the car we went to make the 20-minute trip to the local hospital in rural Normandy - and to the "Urgences" (Emergency Room) in particular. Which was when the fun started...

Firstly, I seemed to have forgotten all my school girl French - not that they taught us anything vaguely resembling: "Hi, I am 33 weeks pregnant and think I have a bladder infection. Could you do a quick check?" It took me about half an hour to explain to them that I was NOT in labour and just needed to see a doctor, before being whisked off to see the gynaecologist AND midwife for a scan. Another long explanation where I tried to communicate that I didn't actually NEED a scan, I just needed to give them a urine sample for a dipstick test (imagine some very awkward miming here involving the nearest tea cup and an old till slip). No such luck.

Before I knew it, I was strapped up to a monitor to measure my contractions (I didn't have any) and to listen to the baby's heart (very cute), while I lay there frantically wracking my brains for ways in which to communicate that I just needed to wee on a stick!

Eventually I decided to try again and explain my symptoms to the very sweet (but very baffled) midwife who was filling out copious amounts of paperwork that made me deeply suspect that they were going to admit me for observation. Or have me committed to the local loony bin. I patiently explained that I had a headache and sore throat and could she maybe have a look to see if it was the flu? 

Eureka! The lights went on behind her eyes and for the first time in two hours I thought we were getting somewhere! She then slowly explained in French that she was going to check inside my throat to see what might be the problem.


Or not, as it turned out. Because for some strange reason she donned a pair of white gloves and began smearing them with alarming amounts of lubricant.

This was not going to end well. I just knew it.

Five minutes later, having learnt the hard way that "throat" and "vagina" are two completely different words in French, I heard the wonderful news that my cervix was not at all dilated, which was just lovely. Except for the fact that I still had a very sore throat. And would probably walk like John Wayne for the rest of my holiday.

The midwife then looked at me rather thoughtfully and took a urine strip out of her drawer before asking me to go and wee on it so that she could see if there was an infection. Let's just say that had I not been so thoroughly exhausted by this point, I would probably have shoved it up her right nostril.

Five minutes later, having been told that they would need to send a sample to the lab and that I needed to phone for the results in 2 days time, I lowered myself gingerly into the car while Stephen wiped the tears from his eyes and howled with laughter. It was not my best day. All I could do was hope to high Heaven that I didn't need any further checkups. And that Stephen would develop a Prostate infection. I figured that watching him try and explain THAT to a French doctor would be exactly what I needed to cheer me up!

On the upside, the results revealed that although there was a slight infection, it would probably clear up with loads of water and Citrosoda (which it did.) I also managed to avoid any further trips to the Urgences for the remainder of the trip and chose instead to self-medicate with French pastries. A MUCH better idea, in my opinion!


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