Hello all. I am behind in posting on our travels but we have been side tracked by the arrival of our latest grandchild - a beautiful baby boy! Little Jacques (pronounced Jack) came into the world on May 20th in Paris. Here is the story...
While we were busy settling in to our new Paris digs last night after a long, rainy travel day - all kind of crazy things were going on at Mary's household. Due to lack of cell coverage on our phones we were, as it turns out, blissfully unaware of these events. We did text to say we had arrived safely and were looking forward to seeing them in the morning, and of course to keep us posted if there were any ‘lost bumps in the night’. We didn’t hear back but that is to be expected when they should all be fast asleep.
Keep in mind, Mary was due on the 28th. I knew we were cutting things close by arriving on the 20th, but she and her sage midwife Willie (a 60ish man with a walrus mustache - renowned in Paris as the Baby Whisperer) had determined that if Mary didn’t want to give birth until I arrived, then she wouldn’t. A slight refinement might have been not at the same time.
As we turned out the lights at 11:30 we got a text from Mary saying the Baby was so excited we were in Paris he just couldn’t wait one more minute to arrive. Clever little one. Lots of love all around and we’ll connect in the morning. We couldn’t talk to Mary at that point because our phones would not work in France until we activated them the in morning at the phone store. So off to sleep knowing all was well and Marcel had a little brother to rough house with for the rest of his life.
Now the ‘fun’ part of the story begins. Around 9:00 Mary was having some regular contractions about 20 minutes apart. She called Willie to let him know, and he said to call him back in an hour or so - but no need to get too excited. Another thing to keep in mind - Coco’s arrival was a long 20+ hour ordeal. Mary first met Willie when he came in to for the last 4 hours to ‘whisper’ to the baby and encourage her to respond to Mary’s heroic pushing efforts.
Marcel was born at home and all went well until he had to be rushed to the hospital with a mother/baby blood incompatibly that ended with Marcel severely jaundiced and under UV lamps for a week.
This time around they were going the conventional route. Birthing clinic, travel plans that needed to include traversing Paris at any time night or day for at least an hour, childcare plans for the kids (that we missed by a day), but Greg’s sister was ‘on deck’.
So - back to base camp. Mary laid down for a wee rest and then all hell broke loose, including her water. As you know they live in a small space - so Mary was trying not to scream ’too loudly’ as she went into intense labor in the bathroom for fear of giving her children nightmares for life, and to avoid delivering on the spot, because she know this baby was well on it’s way. Greg was simultaneously booking a taxi, calling Willie and telling his sister ‘Yes. Now. Come now, NO you can’t finish your movie! A half an hour later Auntie Magali arrived and will no doubt, after this experience choose to never have children.
Greg got Mary downstairs just as the cab arrived. It must be every cab driver's worst nightmare to pull to the curb and find your fare in the throws of child birth... and you need to get this poor, wretched woman and her frantic husband all the way across Paris. You can only feel his pain! But he was game and ran red lights and took every short cut … but meanwhile, as the cab was nearing the clinic our brave girl announced that the baby’s head had cleared the birth canal. "What? Are you sure?” Greg asked (insert pain-wracked withering glance here). Greg called Willie who was waiting upstairs - and explained the situation. The phone was cutting out but it sounded like ‘stay there I am coming’.
By now it was 11:00 and the clinic was closed except for incoming mothers in a more normal stage of labor - and emergencies. As Mary was screaming in the taxi, Willie and others arrived to assess and help. Greg tried to pay the driver … who at this point was in a full sweat and said I can’t give you the full price until SHE is out of the cab. Greg tossed him enough cash to cover all the contingencies and then helped carry Mary from the taxi into the clinic lobby - and that’s as far as they got.
There was no stretcher, no emergency entrance, no flashing lights and ‘STAT’ calls. Just four guys taking her up 8 stairs and laying her on an 18” wide bench in the lobby to finish what Jacques had started. Out the little man came - and both mother and child were calm and collected, albeit a little startled. Jacques was laid on Mary's chest and they where bundled up in a foil blanket and plopped in a chair on wheels (not to be confused with a wheelchair) for the ride to the delivery floor.
As it turned out the tiny clinic elevator was broken, but the consensus was "that’s no problem - we’ll just take you up in the parking garage elevator!" So the same hefty crew carried the chair with mother and newborn down the stairs, outside and then rolled down a dark ramp to an elevator "Don’t drop your baby!” Ha. Ha.
In the end - and a great story to tell through the ages, Jacques is beautiful and healthy. We where able to see them the next morning and had a great afternoon with Marcel and Colette.
It did turn out that Jacques had the same blood incompatibilty situation and spent four days in the clinic under UV lights to clear the jaundice. He is fine now, and a sweetheart, of course!
What a blessing.