Saturday, December 24, 2011

Off to the UK

We don't want to spend Christmas in this tiny apartment and my father is visiting my sister and her British in-laws in Northern England, so we're off to spend the holidays en famille, though it feels odd to leave Paris two days after arriving.

We took the Eurostar to London, which was a challenge. We'd forgotten that the security is a bit like airport security so we lost our tickets and paperwork at the x-ray machine when we took everything apart and then tried to get it back together again. We're still novice at this "traveling with baby" thing, so we'll be working on that.

Hiking near the Lake District

I selected my stroller specifically to work well under most conditions (reclines to flat for sleeping, folds easily, etc.) and I'm happy to report that it stores nicely in a vertical spot on the Virgin Trains Pendolino luggage rack that is too skinny and awkward for anything else. With all the Christmas parcels it was touch and go until we got it squeezed in between the column and the end.

Our host's village was ideal for hiking and I didn't touch the stroller for 5 days, preferring to just use our Ergo to carry Eric. However, after Christmas we headed up for Hogmanay in Edinburgh and there we did enough city walking, with enough city walking napping that I was grateful for the stroller and glad we'd made the effort to bring it.

Eric was a delight on the whole of the trip, declared by many to be a "Happy Chappy" as he dispensed smiles up and down the island. At one bar a man named Dick even gave him a pound coin (specifying that it was for Eric, not us), in Edinburgh the Rabbie Burns pub gave him a keychain which I'm using as his zipper pull on his overcoat. He had his first-ever burrito made by my friend at the delicious Illegal Jack's (yes, he's been to California and Colorado and ended up with his first southwestern meal in Scotland, go figure!).

We had a lovely visit and we can't wait to return.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Face my fears the very first day

I had two fears about moving my baby to Paris:

1) finding adequate medical care
2) that he might fall out of one of the large open windows

We can check number one off the list. Nothing like facing one's fears the very first day!

Probably due to jet lag, or in retrospect because he was sick, Eric had a hard time settling down for his first night in Paris. Eventually I swaddled him so that we all could get some sleep. That always works like a charm, sending him off to dreamland with a smile.

In the morning I woke to find him very hot. Very very very hot. I immediately un-swaddled him and tried to help him cool off. While I am still nursing I knew that the move would be too overwhelming for that so we have some formula. We agreed to go to the bar next door, use their bathroom, have our breakfast croissant, and give Eric some cool formula to try to cool him down. He sucked down that bottle like I've never seen before. I started to relax until he threw it up faster still. Ugh. So here I am in a Parisian café with a sick baby and a pool of vomit - so much for a new, glamorous life!

I asked the bartender for some napkins, which he was reluctant to just hand over to me. They were nice paper napkins, maybe they are really expensive? I think we were both confused by each other. I started mopping up the mess when he saw what I was doing and came over to take care of it with proper cleaning equipment, he was super nice about it. Maybe he has a child himself, because he was that understanding. We left an American-style tip because I didn't think vomit-cleaning was part of the "Service Inclus".

We went back home and took Eric's temperature. Ugh - still 103.5 Fahrenheit. We're going to a French hospital, NOW. Of course the nearest hospital couldn't see him, they sent us out to a pediatric hospital further still. When we got there they made me strip him down to his diaper, to help him cool off. We waited for about 20 minutes, then saw a nurse. There were some scary looking maladies in that waiting room so I was glad to get called in! The nurse checked him over and gave him some Paracetamol, which he couldn't get enough of (strawberry flavored).

We waited about another 20 minutes to see the doctor. He was very patient with Eric who at this point had lost all patience and was screaming to wake the dead. The doctor sent us upstairs for a chest x-ray. That took about 15 minutes, and we went back down to have it interpreted by the doctor. He saw evidence of a lingering chest cold (we knew Eric got sick when Daddy had his shoulder surgery) so he gave us a prescription for antibiotics, packaged up the x-ray film, and sent us on our way.

Hospital ER visit with bonus chest x-ray = €85
Ten day supply of infant Amoxicillin = €22
Both will be reimbursed by our health insurance when the paperwork is done, not that I care at those prices! We were out of the hospital by noon with a baby whose outlook was much improved. I can say with certainty that while going to the hospital is not any more fun in France than in the USA, it's no more difficult either. The specialized language was a bit of a challenge but our doctor was Italian anyway so none of us were native speakers.

As a result of that visit I got a new iPod app - GlobeConvert. In the future it will be easier to convey the results of my American thermometer, and I can rest easy knowing that one of my fears in moving here was unfounded. Hurray!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Off we go

After months of preparation and weeks of couch surfing with work to do but no apartment from which to do it, finally my infant son and I boarded the plane for Paris. Little Eric turned 9 months old on the flight so I like to tease him that mommy took him to Paris for his birthday. That will be a tough precedent to follow!

After all the stress of juggling the move the actual flight was easy. Eric didn't sleep much and so I didn't either, but I had a very nice older French couple next to me and they doted on Eric the whole flight.

Yes, he is that happy after his first international flight!
Daddy was already in Paris and he met us at the airport. We had three large duffles of clothes and toys and housewares, one roller bag filled with all the valuables I didn't want to check, a diaper bag, and the gate-checked stroller. This was supposed to last us the next few months at least, and is about the same amount of stuff as some Americans bring to France just for vacation so I didn't feel too badly, but it was a challenge getting it all to the airport RER for the train into Paris. I was happily surprised by the help we got from people along the way, several times now someone has just come along and grabbed the front of the stroller to get it up or down stairs so I don't have to take the baby out and fold the stroller, which is just so wonderful of them. This would NEVER happen in Boston, probably because people would be worried about being sued should something happen.

Eric is still on three naps a day so he doesn't really seem to have jet lag. The most challenging daylight adjustment has been to the lack of light here. It's fully dark at 7AM, just barely getting light at 8AM. Daddy has a long commute in the dark each morning, we're looking forward to the days getting longer.

We are still in a temporary apartment. We found it, and our longer-term apartment, on Paris Craigslist. This current one is NOT recommended, so renter beware - besides the traditional Craigslist scams you can still end up with an apartment so run down that the toilet is all but unusable. Ugh. Not much longer 'till we can finally settle down.