Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Babymoon" and special treatment while Pregnant in Paris.

There's a new word floating around in the lexicon -- the "babymoon." It's not my favorite neologism. I think it's silly, and it implies that you'll never again take a trip alone with your partner (laugh away, but that won't be us).

Paris probably isn't the best choice for a "babymoon" (barf!), unless you have boundless energy. It's a city that demands exploring, and exploring by foot is always best. I tried hard to keep up with my former energy levels (supplemented by many a crepe break and nap).

In one respect, Paris is great for a babymoon: I was surprised by how kind the French people were to a visibly pregnant woman.

I haven't really expected special treatment for my "condition." Though in the past I would have always given up my bus seat to a pregnant woman, that hasn't happened much in Scotland. In France, however, I never had to stand on the Metro. It was only in tourist places (populated mostly by Americans!) where I had to wait in absurdly long bathroom lines hoping not to get a UTI or pee in my maternity pants. The locals always offered me a seat or a jump-to-the-front-of-the-queue pass. And for someone who has a really hard time accepting the help of others, I was surprised at how thankful I was for the kindness. It was unexpected and a huge relief, making it all the more sweet.

At Notre Dame, the gate attendant allowed us to cut to the front of the line when he noticed my big belly. We were shocked, but recalling the Olympic Torch incident, when standing still for 30 minutes caused nausea and faintness, we accepted graciously.

Though we did not ask (nor expect) it, the same thing happened at Saint-Chapelle (possibly my favorite church ever -- photos on another blog). I knew I couldn't wait in the line, so I sat on a park bench with a book while David stood. Five minutes into my book, a guard walked over to me and sent us through the disabled access line with a smile.

We probably could have done the same thing at Versailles, as the queue was 1.5 hours on precarious cobblestone, but David stayed in the queue while I read on a faraway bench. I was stubborn and thought I could handle it. Once inside, however, after a long walk through the Palace, up and down many stairs, when I could not physically walk the half-mile and stairs down to the exit, a Versailles worker happily allowed me on the restricted elevator. There was even a special pregnant-woman line for tickets to the Gardens of Versailles. Unfortunately, I barely saw any of the stunning gardens (David was able to walk in farther and do some exploring for both of us), but I was able to enjoy the fountains and flowers with an Orangina, a book, and a marble bench.

When I went to the Arc d'Triomphe only to see that the climb was almost 300 stairs, I got my book ready and was prepared to send David to the top alone. Then we discovered the elevator. By this point in the trip, I had no qualms about using it, as there's simply no way I could have taken the stairs. I think I could have climbed them, but walking DOWN the treacherous, ancient, spiral staircase when you can't actually see your feet is not particularly wise. (I learned that the first day at Notre Dame.)

Also interesting: every time we needed to pass through security (pretty much everywhere, which seemed to be the only reason for the insane queues at the tourist attractions), the attendants took one look at my belly and directed me around the X-ray machine saying "not good for baby." Try telling the airport attendants you would prefer a pat-down to the huge look-at-me-naked machines because you're trying not to subject your fetus to too many abnormal rays, and you get a lecture about your mobile phone being bad for your baby. But not in France -- they pretty much insisted I not go through the machine.

Several weeks ago, I would have likely scoffed at the idea of pregnant women getting special treatment, but lately I've just felt incapable of doing a lot of physical things. And while I in no way expected it, it was so nice to be in a country where people went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. Considering I haven't really been comfortable in months, that was a huge deal to me. Right now, I'm being thankful for a ground floor apartment, working from home, and free health care. (But I won't try jumping the queue here.)

6 comments:

  1. Did you notice the lack of elevators in the Metro though? Traveling with kids in Paris can be amazing... and be prepared to change how you get around and what you intend on doing. I have some of my most fond memories traveling overseas at a very early age. We have yet to travel internationally with our girls (must get house that fits us), but will. We've traveled with them, as I've shared. Don't believe what you hear from nay-sayers. You can do it and love it!

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    1. Yes! Very true about the Metro and lack of elevators. I didn't mind going up the stairs, but going down them was way painful on my calves -- which was my own fault because it was going down the 400 stairs at Notre Dame on the first day that made my calves so sore.
      I'm sure we'll travel with this kiddo, but I think we decided to save the international trips for just the two of us until the kid is old enough to have read some history books. I know I will definitely need/want a trip away from the baby at some point. We kind of felt sorry for people we saw hauling screaming babies through Paris. I know not everyone feels this way, but i think it's the same opinion we've got about bringing kids to weddings -- we just won't do it. Need grownup time:)

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  2. You are performing the most amazing feat on the planet. Giving birth to new life. Why shouldn't you get special treatment.

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  3. I'm not laughing. I am a firm believer in traveling with and without the kiddo in tow. I know you and David will do it!

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    1. We totally thought and spoke of you for that exact reason. I don't judge anyone who takes their kids with them on every trip, but that is just not the kind of parents we will be. I totally respect that about you and Josh.

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