January 2021, on the occasion of Happy New Year wishes I wrote on my Facebook page (and on Instagram):
“I have no idea what this year has in store for me but I am waiting for it with open arms.”
If I had known then that this year would give me the best gift ever!!!
Because a few days later, on January 13th (2 days before Jerome’s birthday), we learned that we were going to become parents! A great news that occupied our daily life for 9 months.
It started with a delay in my period, then a pregnancy test (even two) and the news came! I am pregnant and we will be 3 in a few months.
In the space of 48 hours, we went through all the emotions. From fear to joy, but mostly excitement at the idea of welcoming this little baby into our home. What is sure is that Jerome received the best birthday present this year with this news.
As a funny anecdote, the day we decided to go and buy the pregnancy tests, it was -40°C! The only day of the winter when it was so cold! It was epic!
My first trimester of pregnancy
Being pregnant means discovering a whole new world and this is even more true when you are abroad.
The follow-up in Finland is much more basic than in France and less medicalized. This has its advantages and disadvantages. I was quite worried at the beginning because I didn’t have any concrete element that would assure me that this pregnancy would go well. The pregnancy test is considered reliable and you have to wait until 12SA (weeks of amenorrhea) to have the first ultrasound. In the meantime, we have 1 appointment per month mainly to discuss and do basic checks (urine test and blood pressure). I can tell you that I was counting the days to get to the day of the ultrasound!
Duration of pregnancy
In France, a pregnancy lasts 41 weeks of amenorrhea. In Finland, it lasts only 40 weeks. This is also the case in other countries such as the USA. I was due on September 16 in Finland and on September 23 in France.
But overall, this first trimester went pretty well. I didn’t really get sick. Some nausea, some fatigue (but that I was able to manage easily by adapting my work rhythm). As for the hormones, I was spoiled because they didn’t bother me during my entire pregnancy. On the contrary, I felt very happy and fulfilled throughout my pregnancy.
But at the same time, this first trimester was quite stressful because I was afraid that there was a problem. Miscarriage, clear egg, ectopic pregnancy, I imagined everything when there was nothing to suggest a problem. Except…my age perhaps, because according to the professionals, a pregnancy after 35 increases the risk of complications. So I was very afraid of miscarriage because they are not so rare at my age (I can take out a whole bunch of statistics on this subject now!!). </
Did you know that from 35 years old onwards we talk about late pregnancy or geriatric pregnancy? This last term saws me in two frankly!!!
Photo before the first ultrasound at Santa’s village
The first meeting
The first ultrasound was a magical moment. It took my breath away and I finally realized that our baby was real. He was there on the big screen! From that moment on, I became zen, reassured to know that everything was going well.
During this ultrasound, we were offered a NIPS (Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening) which allows us to detect trisomy 21 (and other trisomies) by a simple blood test. The results came back barely 15 days later and thanks to this test (which came back negative) we learned the sex of our baby: a little girl! I was clearly leaning towards a girl (even if I would have been delighted to have a little guy) so I was very, very moved when Jerome told me (because he was the first to hear the news over the phone and made me wait before telling me).
Scratch card that we sent to our families to announce the sex of the baby
The second trimester
started my second trimester relieved, zen and without any inconvenience. No more fatigue, I was able to resume a normal rhythm and enjoy every day of this pregnancy. My belly quickly rounded out after the first ultrasound. We were able to tell our family and friends the good news with great joy.
And then we started to feel the baby move, such an incredible feeling! Not a day went by without someone touching my belly and talking to him. It was really nice to share all this together. Every week, thanks to apps installed on my phone, we followed the baby’s progress. It was a real ritual that Jérôme and I enjoyed sharing.
From the beginning of my pregnancy, we used pregnancy monitoring apps. We used several apps: Pregnesse+, Preglife and Flo (which is more of a menstrual cycle tracking app).
In June, we were planning to go back to France to see our family and friends. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone and showing off my big belly! But things didn’t work out that way
From a dream pregnancy to MAP
3 days before we left for France, we went to the medical center to see the doctor because I needed a medical certificate to fly. A routine appointment that turned into a nightmare. My pregnancy was going perfectly well. I was 26SA+6 (in my 6th month of pregnancy). The doctor had given me my certificate but I don’t know why.
He then offered to check my cervix. A simple check if I wanted to, to reassure me, because according to him it was not obligatory to check, as everything was fine and there was no need to stress the cervix for nothing.
I hesitated (who likes this kind of examination?) and finally said yes. And what a good thing I did! In the space of 5 minutes, everything changed and I was on a stretcher leading me to an ambulance to go to the hospital. During the examination, the doctor noticed that I had almost no cervix, which meant that I could give birth at any moment. It was a real shock for Jérôme and me. We barely had time to talk to each other when the ambulance left for the level 3 hospital, 6 hours away from our home.
Jerome was able to follow me in the car (after going home because we had Mallow in the car, we had to take him to the vet after the appointment…). During the drive, I didn’t quite realize what was going on. I was being asked if I was having contractions, to let them know if I ever felt it growing. How could I go from a beautiful pregnancy to an imminent delivery?
PTA: Threatened Premature Delivery
PTA is when there are contractions associated with a change in the cervix between 24 and 36 weeks of amenorrhea. On average, the cervix measures 40 millimetres, if it is below 25 mm, it is called PAD.
I arrived at the hospital in the early evening. I was examined again. Our baby was 1kg on the nose, a good weight according to the doctor if he was to arrive. The exam confirmed that my cervix was almost gone: 7.5mm and open at 1. I didn’t remember that number at the time, it scared me too much and I guess I didn’t want to face reality. Jerome arrived a little later, I was in the room and I was having contractions (probably due to stress, the journey and the exams). Jerome was able to reassure me, he had taken the time to discuss with the doctor after I left. At this stage of the pregnancy, the baby would have all the chances to live if it was born.
In cases where there is a risk of such an early delivery, the standard protocol is to give corticosteroids by injection to mature the baby’s lungs. This helps to reduce breathing problems at birth. I had these 2 injections and whatever it takes to stop the contractions.
It was downright scary but I couldn’t believe that my baby was going to be born now. It was just inconceivable to me.
The next day, bad news, the hospital was full and there was no room for our baby in the neonatal unit if he arrived. I was offered a transfer to Kuopio hospital. It’s a 3 hour drive from the hospital where I am and almost 9 hours from my home. We have no choice so I leave again by ambulance to arrive late in Kuopio where I stayed until 32 SA (1 month).
<img width=”800″ height=”534″ src=”https://www.je-papote.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/nourriture-hopital-finlande-800×534.jpg” alt=”” />Not every day is a good day in hospital!
My bed rest is strict: I am only allowed to get up to go to the toilet and to take a shower sitting down very quickly. I don’t even dare to wash myself actually and every sensation I feel scares me. I am afraid of giving birth, I am afraid of losing our baby.
We were reassured again that at this stage the babies were viable and that everything would be done to make sure it went well. I had so not considered that this could happen. It was violent but at no time did I want to give up. I had only one idea in mind: to hold on as long as possible. I read a lot about prematurity to prepare myself for it, but deep down I told myself that it wouldn’t happen.
- My calendar to count the days
- The corridor of the hospital where I was able to circulate a little
The third trimester
days and weeks went by, I got into a rhythm, that of the hospital. Waking up at 7:30 am with breakfast and medication. Daily monitoring to listen to the baby’s heart, then shower, lunch at 11:15, coffee break at 1:30, dinner at 4:30 and snack at 7:30. The midwives also come by several times a day with the same questions: Are you okay? Do you feel the baby moving? Do you have contractions? Any bleeding? When I think back on it today, I really wonder how I was able to go through all this without failing.
Jerome was able to stay next door to the hospital (with Mallow), he came to see me every day to keep me company. Poor guy, he spent all afternoon on an uncomfortable chair with the mask on his nose next to me. We couldn’t even make too much noise since I had a roommate right next door. Without him I would have clearly cracked. He was so supportive as it was hard for him to go through all of this too.
At 29SA, I was fitted with a pessary to support my cervix. He became my best friend. So much so that I did everything I could to postpone the day when it had to be removed. I was told it would be removed at 34 or 35 weeks, but I managed to keep it in until almost 37 weeks. I don’t know if it was psychological, but knowing that the silicone ring was there made me feel better. I was able to get up for a while to at least go eat in the room (rather than eating lying down). It allowed me to get out of my room for a while, for a while.
s the first step towards freedom. But unfortunately I regularly had “attacks” of contractions in the evening, so when this happened I was loaded with medication and found myself back in bed without being able to get up. I never understood why I was having so many contractions without doing anything when before my hospitalization I didn’t have any (or didn’t perceive them). They were not painful, they became part of my daily life. Every big attack was a moment of panic because I didn’t know if they would give me something to stop them and if the medication would work.
- The bottom curve shows my many contractions.
At 32 weeks (after a month in hospital) I was transferred to the hospital in Rovaniemi, to the maternity ward where I was supposed to give birth. Since my arrival at the hospital I was counting the days with a little calendar and 32SA was a big milestone because it meant that I could be transferred (to a level 2 hospital closer to my home) but also because I was moving from “very premature” to “moderate premature”.
There are 3 stages of prematurity:
– from 22SA to 26+6SA: Extreme prematurity
– from 27SA to 31+6SA: Extreme prematurity
– from 32SA to 36+6SA: Moderate prematurity
– At 37SA, the pregnancy is considered to be full term.
I arrived at the hospital at the stage of extreme prematurity, so I might as well tell you that the anguish did not leave us the first few days. We were so afraid of losing our baby.
At this stage of my pregnancy, I was reassured that being at 32 weeks was a good thing and that each day that passed was one day less of hospitalization for my baby. It was reassuring but deep down I still didn’t give any room to the possibility of giving birth before term.
I was “fine” in this new hospital: I arrived in a room with no roommates (unlike the Kuopio hospital) and I had a window and natural light (something I didn’t have in Kuopio). I had settled into a rhythm and I was taking it easy. Jerome kept coming to see me and we could talk freely without disturbing anyone. It was definitely more livable when I was in the first hospital.
And then I ended up having a room mate and I broke down in two days. The tiredness, the crowding…I couldn’t take it anymore after living with a complete stranger in Kuopio hospital for weeks. The midwives saw right away that I wasn’t well and I was quickly given a single room (which raised my spirits 1000%) and I ended my stay in the hospital more serene.
- My double room in Rovaniemi<
- /My single room in Rovaniemi
The daily monitoring continued to show contractions every day. It was quite disconcerting knowing that I was doing almost nothing: I was lying in bed, even eating while lying down. I only got up to go to the bathroom and shower.
As my pregnancy progressed, we started talking about a possible discharge if I stayed near the hospital. I wanted to go out but at the same time I was very afraid of leaving the hospital and having contractions that could not be stopped. Every week I saw the doctor to do an ultrasound and check that the baby was doing well. And then at 34SA when I had just had a good attack of contractions a few days before, the doctor told me I could leave.
So I ended up staying near the hospital in the apartment that Jerome had rented to be near me. I had to continue my bed rest and once a week I had to go to the hospital for check-ups. Jerome had to do everything and assist me so that I would get up as little as possible. He managed like a boss and frankly…I found it really difficult to have to depend on someone like that.
At 36+6SA my pessary was removed. I was dreading this moment because the doctor had told us that once removed it was possible that I would give birth very quickly. And it was also the moment when I was allowed to get up and resume a normal life. I can’t tell you the stress! So yes, I was at full term but I wanted to go further so that our baby would arrive as planned in mid-September in good health and with a good weight. But most of all, I still didn’t feel ready to give birth (I hadn’t even finished my pre-birth preparation that we did on video).
I started to live normally again little by little because after being bedridden for so long I got tired quickly. I had quite a few contractions but I managed to deal with them and was no longer as scared as before. We were able to go for a walk, go out a bit to enjoy the autumn that was setting in, enjoy our last moments together, etc. It was really good for me.
It felt really good to be able to walk again and enjoy the end of my pregnancy. This is what I had imagined at the very beginning of my hospitalization but I didn’t know it would be possible. I had also dreamed of taking a picture with the aurora borealis and my big belly, so on the evening when the aurora was out, we didn’t hesitate to go for our photo session (we really thought we would end up in the maternity ward with the contractions I was still having).
Early September came and we were finally ready to welcome baby. My goal was to make it to 38SA. After that, I really let go. And then…baby ended up being overdue. We had been warned that in Pregnancy and Childbirth there are 2 possibilities: either you give birth quickly, or you give birth after term. Here I am ins in great shape!
I was due on September 16. Even before the MAP, I had imagined giving birth before that date, like early September. It would have been perfect to have time to enjoy baby before our labor season started at the end of November.
At my last checkup at the hospital, the doctor told us we could wait 10 days past term before inducing. Ok we’ll wait then!
And then… you may not know it but my birthday is on September 19th so we started thinking that it would be funny if baby came on that day
The best day of our lives.
The days went by and there was no sign of a baby coming. I can’t believe it. On the evening of the 18th, I was depressed and told myself that this baby would never arrive and especially not on my birthday. We spent the evening quietly together but for some reason we had an improvised blind test (the thing we never do!). In short, we spent a great evening having fun and laughing. Thanks Jérôme for the laugh with the song Le Youki! (if you don’t know it, go see it ! The song, the clip, the lyrics…everything is good)
September 19th, it’s 7am and I get up with a stomach ache like a gastro. I immediately think of the ramen I ate the day before (which was past its expiration date). I don’t suspect that what I have are contractions (I’m not smart that way). It’s Jerome who, once awake, understands what’s going on. In a few moments, the car is started and here he is who activates me to go to the maternity. I am zen and I want to take my time before leaving but Jerome presses me because “we have no time”. Indeed I had contractions every 2 or 3 minutes.
In 10 minutes we were in front of the maternity ward and I can tell you that I was really happy despite my painful contractions. Our baby was going to be born on my birthday! If that isn’t the most wonderful gift I could have!
9:02 am we are in front of the doors of the ward. I am already dilated to 4. They put me in the labour ward. I was wondering what painful contractions could be like, as I had them every day but without pain. Well, here I was served, it was just unbearable!
In my birth plan I had planned to postpone the epidural as much as possible but I saw myself asking for it very quickly. Well, it must be said that in the space of 2 hours I went from 4 to 8! Once the epidural was taken, I was able to come to my senses and what is good is that I was able to conI kept walking, kept busy to make progress with the work. We were comfortable in our room together, with music and imagining the arrival of our little girl.
My water broke in the early afternoon. I had been carrying around a bed sheet for weeks and it made me laugh to see that it was finally happening in the maternity ward. It took a long time before the pushing phase started. It was early evening and I was beginning to wonder if our baby was going to arrive this evening.
This pushing phase was very trying and long. Over an hour and a half if I remember correctly. Even though I had had the epidural (2 doses), I was in a lot of pain and I couldn’t see my labour progressing. I was pushing but I couldn’t feel the baby coming down
Then the doctor arrived and I knew something was up. The doctor doesn’t arrive without a reason. They explained to me that they were going to help me because the baby had to come out now. I hadn’t seen on the monitor that the contractions were starting to put our baby in pain. Jerome had seen it but didn’t tell me so I wouldn’t panic.
The doctor explained that he was going to use a vacuum to help the baby out. I think everything was ready to go for a c-section if it went wrong. But all it took was one push and there she was. Laying between my legs, all pretty. Our little Lucie. I couldn’t imagine her and my first thought when I saw her was “she’s really ours? but how beautiful she is”. I instantly loved her, with a love above all else. How to describe this feeling…it’s impossible!
Lucie was born the same day as me and quite close to my birth time too (58 minutes later than me). I still can’t believe that we will share all our birthdays from now on. We would have wanted to do it on purpose that we would not have succeeded.
Our new life together
Since his birth, a lot has happened. A stay at the maternity hospital was not necessarily easy with the introduction of breastfeeding a little difficult (but since then it is much better even if there are ups and downs). We were then able to go back home (finally! 3 months after that day of hospitalization in June) and start our new life together.
We went back to France when Lucie was 3 weeks old to introduce her to our families and we have been back in Lapland for the winter for several weeks. Time flies by at a crazy speed. Lucie is 3 months old today and even though I spend all my time with her, I think she’s growing up way too fast (words of all parents I guess).
We are happy to have her in our lives and especially that she arrived in good health.
When I think back to what we went through, to that hospitalization, it’s hard. The memories are painful and I have a lot of images and sensations that remain.I think I didn’t think too much about it. I don’t think I thought too much about it at the time, all that mattered was to last as long as possible. Today I have a bitter taste in my mouth because I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy normally and I loved being pregnant so much. But when I rationalize it all, I tell myself that we avoided prematurity and that is priceless. Lucie arrived in great shape and that’s the main thing!
I would like to take advantage of this article to thank all the people who supported me on a daily basis during my hospitalization (I am sure you are reading this). I was very touched by the little words to check on me every day, to reassure me, to entertain me. It’s crazy because sometimes I received more support from strangers than from some friends. That’s the magic of networking, it’s not all bad!
In France, 60,000 premature babies are born every year. Before this MAP (Threat of Premature Delivery), I had never really thought about prematurity. During my hospitalization, I read a lot about it, and I also talked to other mothers who had given birth to premature babies, and that’s when I realized what it meant. Since then, I support the association SOS Prema which fights to give premature and hospitalized babies the best chances to grow up well. If, like me, you are concerned about this subject, a small donation from time to time will help them in this objective
Now let’s go to happiness with our Lucie with the mission to help her to grow up and discover the world
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!