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Subject: Should I stay or should I go?
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Name: Lost in France
Message: I am an American living with my French husband in France. I have lived here for almost 2 years, and I have not adapted to the country as well as we had anticipated. Now more than ever, I am feeling home sick.

About 2 weeks ago I found out I was pregnant(due in January 2007). While the news was a bit shocking, I was overall excited and happy....well, initially I was. I have since been feeling quite sad and depressed. It's almost as if I have become a zombie. I hate this feeling! I really want to be happy and focus on creating a healthy, cozy home for my baby for the next 8 months.

I have an incredibly loving husband who was thrilled when he found out that I was pregnant. He has been extremely attentive and supportive. But I know that I am bringing his spirits down too, which was not my intention. Knowing that makes me feel even worse.

I feel trapped. I'm living in a country that is still very foreign to me, yet moving back to the States would be a big ordeal. Trying to find a job again, worrying about healthcare, and dealing with the whole immigration process for my husband.

I'm lost. I really don't know what to do at this point. I miss all the comforts and conveniences of back home. The thought of having and raising a child in a place where I have not yet adapted to scares me.

France has some good and bad points, just as the US does. Some of the good outweighs the bad, and vice versa. But the cultures are just very different. Knowing that if I raised my child here they will never truly experience the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (American style) breaks my heart. No playing sports or music for the school. No pep-rallys or prom.

I never imagined that I would be married, pregnant, and living in France....yet here I am. I love my husband dearly and feel blessed to have such a wonderfully warm and caring person in my life. I want to do what is best for us and our future child. I want to be able to concentrate on this pregnancy, and enjoy this time and be happy.

I can't go on feeling the way that I do now. It's not healthy.

If anyone out there has and suggestions or advice, please feel free to respond.

Thank you!

Replies Posted 10.

Name D
Message Joan,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Very nice indeed. I wish you the best of luck on your return to Europe.

Name Lori
Message Oh Joan, what a very nice post. Best of luck to you !

Name joan smith
Message As a 60 year old with an almost grown grandchild I have a different perspective on the life of thecontemporary American child. While as a child I could be, and was, waved out the door with kisses and a picnic to roam the woods and streams around my then rural home outside Philadelphia, coming back in time for dinner-(long sentence!)--the contemporary child is escorted and shepherded by his parents everywhere. America has become a society in the grip of (justified) fear for the safety of our children. But a child whose life is rigidly scheduled with "safe" activity doesn't really have a childhood. When hiking the Cotswold Way in England a few years back I was delighted to see, at sunset, balloonists drifted down over the fields outside Wooton-under-Edge. Scores of children were pouring out of the houses into the fields to greet the balloonists. What a sight! I felt as though I were in a time warp. I guess what I'm saying is that Europe offers different things to a child, if only just the simple pleasures of being a child I used to have. Moreover, in American society virtually devoid of safety net, the economic pressures on the parents are bound to effect the mental health of the kids.

Good luck with your baby. When I was pregnant and living in England (with a not so supportive husband), I longed to come home to be near my parents. I did so and have been trying to return to Europe permanently ever since. This is my year.

All the best, Joan

Name S
Message You seem to be getting a lot of support and consideration. Ignore the rude people. Here are someone elses thoughts. (I too was living in France when I found out I was pregnant)

My first question is have you been to the states on an extended visit since moving to France. Many years ago I moved to France, it was my second time living there and I couldn't wait. After 6 months I was miserable. I was fully integrated into society and just couldn't make peace with it. So in a bout of depression I went home for a visit. The minute I got off the plane I was reminded of how loud and big America was. I still remember the day I went back to France after the visit. I felt like I was coming home. I think that sometimes we can become so focused on what we miss that we lose track of the reasons we left in the first place.

My partner is French. When we found out we were pregnant, we talked about it and decided to come home. Yes there is a good health care system in France but depending on what you expect from your pregnancy expereince in might not offer you what you are looking for. It is very clinical, epi's are almost standard, and you have to argue to not have one. Also it lacks the coziness that clinics in the U.S. have. While I don't mind that cold socialist medicine for a broken leg or flu, it wasn't what I wanted for my pregnancy. Pregnancy can be a bit nerve wrecking. Every bump, no movement, fall, etc... Then there is birthing, it is hard enought, I wanted to do it my own language, in a culture that holds my hand. Also all the smoking made me postively naucious.

I also struggled with the same issues that you did about Halloween, and Christmas, and traditions. I don't know where you live but there are huge American communities that deal with this issue. and I think this also has a lot to do with your partner. Is he willing to incorporate your culture into his, and make an effort to raise the child bi-culturaly as well as bi-lingually.

I wouldn't worry about moving back to the U.S. the immigration process is fairly simple. If you begin before hand, and most states offer some sort of community or state run health program for pregnant women.

If you decide to stay in France you might consider where you are living, as a compromise perhaps. I don't know where you are living but if it is in some tiny hamlet where the only people to talk to are your inlaws and your husbands childhood friends sure it is going to be hard. Try a bigger city or moving South or to Brittany where there are larger american and English communities. Then you can have the best of both worlds.

Don't listen to anybody who well tell you that France is more advanced in anything. The riots should tell you that. Individuallity and personal exploration within careers and studies is not encouraged. (This is coming from our 18 and 20 year old (French) nieces.)

If you do come home to U.S. make sure your register your babies birth with the French consulate! I wish you the best of luck, decide what you want and don't worry about what other's think. I feel, if there is one time in a woman's life when she deserves to be spoiled it is pregnancy and childbirth. And no move is permanant. If the U.S. doesn't work out move back to France, or if you have citizenship, U.K. or Italy or wherever.

Best Wishes, S

P.S.You might read "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnick. It made me want to raise my son in France. P.S. I was glad that I came home to have my baby, and his grandparents loved it too. But there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was back in France. All those issues that plagued me before now don't seem so important, but I do so crave to give my son the most interesting, adventurous life possible.


Name Maxence
Message Hi,

My name is Max, I'm a twenty-year-old French-American and I've virtually spent my whole education in France. I want to give you my opinion about being raised in France, in comparison to the US. Although the French educational system is one the best in the world and French students are world-renowned for their educational skills (better than Americans), one must know that they are much less "socially mature" than their fellow Americans. As a French student, I've been assisted and guided all my life. The very demanding schedules and homework in France leave little time for out-of-school activities (moreover, in-school activities are quite limited...). So if you are more concerned about your child's social maturity, you are entitled to consider raising him (or her) in the US. If it's education you are more concerned about, France is to place to be.

I hope this message will help you and I wish you good luck with everything.


Name Lori
Message Glad you came back Lost.

Sometimes people post and never return, leaving us to wonder how they are.

If you do decide to stay in France (or perhaps even if you don't), I hope you will keep us posted on how you are coping.

It is a lovely Spring day down here in South Eastern France. I hope it is where you are too.


Name Lost in France
Message Thank you Lori and Anonymous for your kind words and advice. Obviously, my husband and I have a lot of things to discuss. Whatever happens, I know that we love each other and will make things work one way or another.


Even though your words were a bit harsh, I appreciate your honesty. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to adapt and adjust as well as you apparently have. I am not sure of your past or where in the US you lived, but back in Florida I had a pretty damn good life in comparision to what I have now. I tried to give France a shot, but for me it just doesn't work.

Name Ron
Message Excuse me for being rude, but ARE YOU NUTS!

You have the oppotunituniy to raise your child in one off the historical and cultural and educational meccas of the world and you are worried about proms and pep rallys?

No sports or music or comforts and conviences?? Are you living in seventh century France? Sounds like you need to broaden your horizons a bit.

Also telling is your comment about health care. Your would prefer that your child struggle with the costliest , least accessible healthcare system in the indutrialized world?

Why, after two years, is France still foriegn to you? Have you tried to learn the language? Try putting down the BBQ sauce and trying a little baguette with pâté.

Bonne chance,


Name anonymous
Message Hi D-

First of all, congratulations on being pregnant. I'm sorry you've been feeling so down lately, but just know that you're not alone out there. I think the majority of expats feel that way at some point during their time abroad, especially during the early years.

For some reason, a lot of Americans (especially those that didn't know France/French before and just followed their partner here) seem to have a hard time adapting to life in France. It just takes time, and learning French will help more than you can ever imagine.

What does your husband say about all of this? Is he willing to move back to the US? If he is, maybe the two of you could set a date - for example, two years from now after the baby is born, and move back. That would give you time to work on his papers, and you might be happier knowing you will eventually be moving back home.

If you're worried about insurance and whatnot, it'd probably be best to stay here at least until the baby is born. I've heard nothing but good things from the women who have had babies born in France, so you will be well taken care of.

As for the holidays, I know it's sad to think about everything our kids will be missing out on as far as American childhoods go, but that doesn't mean French childhoods are equally interesting in their own way. Ask your husband, I'm sure he can tell you about all kinds of neat things he did as a child. And there's always the trips home during the summer (4th of July) or at Christmas to let them see the American way. Just think, your child(ren) will grow with two cultures and two languages - how many others get to do that?

I know it's easy to say, but try not to get too down on yourself, this is supposed to such an exciting time for you and your husband!

Name Lori
Message Hello Lost:

It is hard to respond to a post like yours, but I will give it a try. Firstly, I am in no position to give you advice. If you are comfortable with your French, there are some really good counselors in France who can offer much more professional suggestions (and they won't break the bank). It might not hurt to give one of them a try.

I would imagine your are overcome with emotions right now. The news of your pregnancy could really push those emotions to the limit. If you can endure a little bit longer, perhaps your emotions may calm.

From my own personal experience, after about two years here, the novelty had worn off. The cold reality of life/laws/residency/schools/being away from my friends/family, etc., etc., etc. set in. It was a stage in my life. It passed, but not before having some of the same doubts you seem to be having. I did consider returning to the States, but in the end, I felt I had not given it my all and until I felt that I had, I might regret it. I stayed and now, I am totally happy.

As for the American holidays, yes, I found it sad that my daughter wouldn't get to go trick-or-treating (or the like), but my reaction to that was to have a big Halloween party myself. We did this for 3 years running, until my daughter got to be a bit old for it. Our French friends LOVED it !! They absolutely loved it. I made sure all the neighboring houses knew the kids would come round to trick or treat and they all were expecting them. It could not have been more fun. And, I was so pleased that every year they would check to be sure I was going to do it again. I don't do it now, but if you are interested in a bunch of Halloween decor, I can supply it.

As to Thanksgiving, well I don't do that one, but a lot of folks I know here do (the American ones).

I also have learned to enjoy the many French holidays on offer here. There seem to be so many. My daughter always seems to be off school for one holiday or another. It really gives families time to have holidays together or just be at home together.

Perhaps if you could spend a bit more time with some of your friends (American and French) and share some of your worries it might lift the burden you feel. If you don't know many other Americans that can EASILY be fixed. We are here, belive me. And, many of us have felt what you are feeling.

Your husband sounds lovely and you are most lucky to have him. I'm sure you know that. He is your best ally. Keep him close.

Whatever you decide, I hope you will give it some more time. As you say, France and the U.S. have their good and bad points. You are here now (France). So, if it is possible, try to get out and enjoy the better things France has to offer. This is an exceptional time of year for that. I have no idea where you live. I live in the Southeast. If you are near me, I would be pleased to meet you. If you are not, I would be happy to communicate via email. It would be a pleasure.

I haven't offered much advice, but I wanted to reply as it seems you need a few uplifting replies.

Best wishes to you.


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