Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Enjoying my life

It has been raining non-stop these days. How I'm glad that I don't have to wake up every morning and rush to work.

Some people asked me what I'm doing these days while waiting for the big day. Well, I'm not a very outgoing kind of person, so staying at home suits me just fine.

I thought I would miss the working life but the fact is, work is far behind me and I don't even bother to check my work mails.

So, I'm enjoying every bit of my life doing stuffs that I don't get to do while working:
- sleep whenever I want
- chat with friends in Malaysia during their working hours
- call home almost everyday
- make appointments during weekdays
- go to market to pick up fresh food and fruits
- get prepared for the big day
- connect with the baby while she is kicking and doing somersault in the stomach
- received friends at home on weekdays
- cook for hubby

Well, on the other hand I haven't been sleeping well due to the big stomach. Then got annoyed by those religion people who keep wanting to convert me. That day I didn't answer the door thinking it was them again but it was actually the postman. I got all excited thinking that it was the parcel from Malaysia, but when I looked at the note the postman left, it was some documents from our apartment complex. And now I need to make a trip to the post office just to collect this stupid document. I avoid driving now since my stomach is almost touching the steering. Now whenever I see these religion people, I just say:"no thank you" and close the door.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Doctor appointment = long waiting time?

I saw my gynecologist for the first time. My early pregnancy was followed by my generalist and each time I had to wait like 30 minutes passed appointment time, unless I took the earliest appointment spot.

I don't know why but I thought with my gynecologist it would be different. I was so wrong, I waited 2 hours. Her secretary reserved another appointment for me with an anesthetist one hour later, so I actually went with the anesthetist first before waiting for another hour to see her.

Well, she kept apologizing for being late, she actually went to the emergency room earlier. My session with my generalist usually lasted about 40 minutes, and with her, I was out of her room 15 minutes later. During the session, she got a call from her daughter, I heard her saying that she still have one more patient to attend to, then she has to go to another hospital, so she can't be home before 8.30pm. Hard work indeed.

She seems to be a nice doctor, I think she would like to talk more with me if not due to her busy schedule. And, she costs a lot more too, 47 euros vs 22 euros with my generalist. I can see why the French government is encouraging the early pregnancy to be followed by a generalist, it can indeed save a lot of money if every pregnant woman follows suit.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No, you don't say no to a customer like me

I have a long battle with Air France about their guide service at Charles De Gaulle Airport. Of course, with a customer like me, they lost the battle. I got what I wanted, from Air France Hong Kong. Well, I still lost to Air France in Nantes though.

The battle starts with:
My aunt is coming to France. Initially I arranged that hubby goes to Paris to pick her up. Since she arrives early in the morning, that means either hubby has to stay overnight in CDG airport if he takes train, or he will have to drive overnight to Paris (round trip 10 hours). I found both solutions are inconvenient to hubby, plus I don't want him to be too far away from me in case the baby decides to arrive early.

I did some research online and I found a better solution:
Guide Service at CDG provides by Air France.
With this service, someone who speaks Mandarin can go pick up my aunt, guide her through immigration and custom, and bring her to the gate where she is going to take a plane to Nantes.A perfect solution that would only cost 88 euros, and she will be taken care of once she touches down in Paris.

Now, the challenge is how to get this service. I practically never call any services here because you need to pay for each call. I sent an email to Air France but after 2 weeks I didn't get any reply. I went to Air France office in Nantes, first they had never heard of this, and when they discovered that my aunt was not taking Air France from Kuala Lumpur to Paris, they immediately refused to serve me. I didn't give up and researched further as I don't think any reasonable person would refuse business. Then only I discovered that the service is listed in Air France Hong Kong website with a phone number. I know with my internet provider FREE, I can call Hong Kong for free and usually in Hong Kong the service line is free. So I called up Air France Hong Kong, they told me it is not possible to provide this service without any reservation. I told them that if I'm not sure they could give me this service I will not make reservation for the Paris - Nantes flight and they will lose business. I insisted that if they give me what I want, they will have my business: Paris-Nantes flight + the 88 euros services. The agent was kind of convinced, she gave me a number to contact the service provider directly in Paris.

Apparently Air France has partnership with an independent agent in Paris for this kind of service. I talked to the person in charge, he said no problem, he will take the order. However, he said I just need to twist a bit my reservation, don't tell Air France that it is for the arrival since my aunt comes with another airlines, just tell them that it is a service to assist my aunt for the departure to Nantes. Since he couldn't take the payment directly, I still need to pay in any Air France counter.

So I went again to Air France Nantes and printed out the website. The assistant was very confused as she has not heard of this service but she can't refuse as it is listed in the website that it was an Air France service. This assistant was actually quite helpful, she called here and there for information. It seemed that nobody knows about it so she called the independent agent in Paris. She got confirmation that I could get this service, and she was told how to handle the payment. Well, it seemed that there were still some procedures she couldn't figure out so she asked me to go home and wait for her call.

Two days later I still get nothing from her. I called the agent in Paris to check if they have received any order from Air France Nantes. No they didn't and they actually had sent all the necessary instructions to Air France Nantes for the payment operation. Well, I decided to call Air France Hong Kong instead. This time she told me to have this service, my aunt needs to take a long haul flight with Air France and Paris-Nantes flight is considered a short distance flight. I reasoned with her that the service provider in Paris has agreed to this service, now just let me pay. She kept asking me to hold on so that she can asked her superior for approval. Eventually she gave me a solution: she would request this service to Paris, if they agree, she will let me pay through Air France Hong Kong.

And I got a call this morning from Hong Kong! The guy called me and spoke to me in Cantonese, saying that the service has been approved, now I just need to pay. It was so weird, for some reason I lost the ability to tell my credit card number in Cantonese, but the guy has been very patient. He nicely explained that I will get a confirmation email once the payment goes through.

And I got the confirmation email 20 minutes later. Such a wonderful service.

My philosophy: If there is a business, they will find you a solution.
Well, this probably only works with Asian mentality, as until now I didn't get any call from Air France Nantes. Anyway the business amount is probably too small for them to even bother about it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Baby's room or parents' room?

We have been attending childbirth classes, sponsor by the government. At first I was skeptical about the usefulness of these classes, as I thought we could get most of the information from parents and friends who have already gone through all these. After 4 classes I really like it as the midwife explains things more from the medical and professional perspectives than what our friends can tell us.

On the third class, the midwife threw us a question: where will your baby sleeps? In the parents' room or baby's room?

We were three couples. In my culture most of the new born sleeps with the parents or other adults, I thought I was the only one choosing the parents' room. Out of my surprise, one woman said she was not sure, she might want to put the baby in her room for the first 2 months. I then expected the midwife to educate us about how it would be inappropriate to put the baby in the parents' room, but again, she surprised me.

According to her, statistically, only one third of the world put the baby in a separate room and it is actually an occidental practice. From medical stand point of view, it is preferable to put the baby in the same room as the parents. The baby was living in a comfortable temperature until he or she is born. Suddenly, he or she has to deal with complete strangeness in the world. It would be nice for he or she to immediately be around with something familiar, like parents' voice, smell, breathing...During the night, some babies can stop breathing, but when hearing the parents' breathing, the baby's respiration system restarts. Moreover, the baby won't realize a thing if you have put he/she in a baby room or dining room during the first 9 months.

Having said that, she assures us this is totally up to the parents to decide. There is no right or wrong answer. She understands that parents want the baby to be independent since the first day, but she reminds us that when a baby grows up, he or she will like to have privacy and would naturally putting distance between parents and child. One couple raised concern about their intimacy, meaning they might not be able to continue their couple private activities. Her response was hilarious, she said you just need to be creative. Well, I personally don't think this is an issue, seeing how my siblings continue to produce the second and third kids while their first still sleeping in the same room as them.

I know the other two couples were not quite convinced since it is a norm in France that baby sleeps in the baby room. I was thrilled and relieved that hubby changed his point of view after this class. He was reluctant to let the baby sleeps in our room but now he has completely accepted it. The baby bed is already set up in the room.

This photo shows the childbirth classroom we were attending. We learnt about using the balloon to ease the contraction. It was very fun as she also taught us how to sit on the balloon while leaning on our partner, and at the same receiving back massage from the partner. Very cool class I would say!