The First Trimester: Où sont les toilettes ?

When I finally arrived at la Gare Routière (the bus station), I was thrilled! It’s always comforting when I make the descent from the bright blue CarTreize bus because I know that after about 10 minutes I’ll find myself unlocking my front door. Despite the fact that it had been a long day at work, I still hiked up the 5 flights of stairs that leads to my home. I really don’t like elevators. Finally, the hour commute was done. The first thing I did was find a chauffrette and let it heat up as my head hit the pillow. The first trimester is really as bad as everyone says.

I’m now well into the second trimester, but I’ll let this post be a reminder of my woes during the first trimester. Maybe when I think about having a second child, I’ll re-read this post and change my mind.

5 First trimester must-haves that will save your life:

  • A heating pad or a chauffrette. It works like magic in getting rid of stomach pain.
  • A bottle of water. Having this on hand is a great way to combat on-the-spurt nausea. A few sips and I noticed a difference immediately.
  • Small snacks. These are necessary for several reasons: on the spurt hunger, an energy boost, and to combat nausea.
  • Clothes that are ‘baggy’ (aka a little bit big) are perfect for those days when anything slightly touching your ovaries/uterus makes you want to hurl.
  • A bed and a pillow and a toilette. Several naps a day are necessary for allowing your body to regain energy. Plus, you’ll be so tired during the day since you wake up several times a night to pee.

So many friends and family have asked me what my pregnancy is like. Well, it all boils down to one question: “où sont les toilettes ?” Seriously, I pee all of the time! During the first trimester, I noticed that if I tried to wait to pee, I felt even more nauseous than before. So, a word of advice: be aware of the location of the bathrooms – they’ll save your life!

In addition to constantly peeing, the embryo took all of my energy. By the time I began to get used to the nausea and the lack of energy, in came the second trimester. Before getting pregnant, I worked out regularly, engaged in fun physical activities (such as mountain climbing and laser tag), and stayed up late. So, this was certainly quite a change. I can’t count the number of times I said, “I’m never having another kid,” “I have a new respect for women – they’ve kept our species alive by going through this pain over and over again!” and “I don’t understand how women could have more than one!” And I really didn’t have it That bad during this trimester (despite all of the nausea, I never threw up). But, apparently this feeling is normal.

All these woes began about a month into the pregnancy. In fact, I still had all of my normal energy until about 4-5 weeks after conception. I was pregnant while I was in Paris for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time.

Le Palais de Chaillot.

I walked everywhere and even climbed several monuments without feeling winded…

La Tour Eiffel.

La Tour Eiffel.

The only problem I had was a cold …because it was cold. Oh, and I never got my period… I guess that can count as a ‘problem’.

Speaking of problems, try finding a gynécologue in the middle of winter. My pregnancy declaration ended up late because it took so long to book an appointment. No one was available until March! During the first trimester, it’s obligatory to declare your pregnancy to la CAF. It’s actually simple: the gynécologue gives you the cerfa 50040*05 form (sadly, the médecine généraliste couldn’t give us this form). It’s actually a packet consisting of 2 blue forms and 1 pink form. The pink form goes to CPAM (or, in my case, MGEN). The 2 blue forms go to la CAF. And that’s it! Of course, this was easy because I’m already on file with la CAF. Filing for la CAF is a whole different ball game…best for a separate post.

The good news is that there’s hope! Look forward to the second trimester because it’s exactly as everyone says: you’ll have more energy and less fatigue, I swear! ♦


This is part of a series on my pregnancy in France. You can follow my pregnancy and gain helpful insight on what pregnancy is like in France by reading these blogs:


For more insight on what raising a bilingual baby is like in France, check out these posts:

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Bienvenue…it’s a girl!

It was the 31st Décembre; we had a huge soirée planned including two NYE parties. Without looking at it myself, I shoved the test into mon chéri‘s palms. I was afraid to see the results. “Maybe if I don’t look at it, I’ll still be able to drink!” I hoped in vain.

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Fast-forward 22 weeks, and here I am: pregnant. In France. After weighing all of our options, we are happy to announce that we are expecting a girl!

It’s our first, so, we’re having the “time of our lfe” embracing the joys and stresses that come with the first-born. That is, the first to be born in our bilingual family (don’t worry, mom, Pitchoune will be fluent in English, too). Bilingual has such a cool ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s too bad Expat is attached. That is to say, being a foreigner doesn’t make things any easier when it comes to pregnancy abroad. So, I’ve decided to write a few blogs explaining how an expat goes about having (including affording to have) a baby in France. Unfortunately, nothing’s as straight forward as it should be… and I’m all for making things as simple as possible. So, on y va!

Before I got pregnant, we had already made plans to spend the rest of our lives together…I guess our “nether regions” took that decision to another level. In fact, we took the necessary precautions with préservatifs and we’ve still got a baby on the way, so, the only other answer is: it’s destiny. Maybe that’s pushing it, but, it is what it is. Le mariage, first, would’ve been idéal; however, it doesn’t by any means define our feelings for one another. Those ‘lovey-dovey’ feelings were established way before we moved in together. Le mariage is also quite expensive, and will be especially for us! Why? Because my family is in the US! Flights for getting my immediate family over here (or his over there) are enormously expensive! Maybe we’re too nice or maybe just too close to our families, but, one thing on the list is to pay for their flights. After all, none of us are rich. And then there’s the rest of our families – they should be included, too! So, in the meantime (while we wait for our bank accounts to accumulate enough money to make our mariage dream come true) we’re jumping to step number 2: Hello, Pitchoune, or peanut!

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4 major differences between la grossesse in France and pregnancy in the US:

  • In France, la grossesse, or pregnancy, is 41 weeks; it’s 40 weeks in the US.
  • In France, a pregnant woman must declare her pregnancy with la CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familial), aka the state, and with CPAM (Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie), the French social health insurance (or, in my case, with MGEN, which is the social health insurance for teachers that I use). There’s no declaration to the state to be made in the US (except when you file your taxes, but that’s actually very different – and the French have that option, too). Depending on the state, there are programs, such as WIC, that are similar to what la CAF provides; however, it’s still not quite the same. For example, la CAF includes monetary aid to families based on the income of both couples, not just one or the other (married or not). This declaration to la CAF must be completed by the 14th week of pregnancy. If a pregnant Française (or legal immigrant) fails to declare the pregnancy to la CAF, there’s a 1,500€ fine!
  • In France, giving birth & neonatal care is free; I can’t say the same for the US.
  • In France, childcare  is paid for by la CAF. Of course, how much the state pays depends on how much the couple makes. Also, the type of childcare chosen depends on how much la CAF will pay. For example, la CAF pays 100% for la crèche, or daycare, but in-home care (aka babysitter, nanny, or au pair) is anywhere from 60%-80%.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as Pitchoune continues to grow and as I discover more differences; however, as of right now, these 4 seem to be the most important. It’ll be a wonderful adventure to see how things progress with la grossesse. ♦


This is part of a series on my pregnancy in France. You can follow my pregnancy and gain helpful insight on what pregnancy is like in France by reading these blogs:


For more insight on what raising a bilingual baby is like in France, check out these posts: