Wednesday evening, we headed over to the Birth Center (I drove as T scarfed down a gluten-free english muffin with an egg in it...) to attend our first Centering class.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Centering Pregnancy and Centering class(es) refers to the same thing. It's a program through the Birth Center in which women of similar gestation and their partners regularly meet together under the guidance of a midwife and a nurse. This program takes the place of the majority of our remaining prenatal appointments. Instead of having a routine prenatal appointment every four weeks, we have a Centering class every four weeks. (Until the appointments would be closer together, at which time the Centering sessions get closer together, and so on.) *I'd like to point out here that there are still a couple of appointments, for the Glucose Tolerance Test/RhoGAM shot, and one to go over our birth plan.
Centering Pregnancy advocates for women to take a larger responsibility in their own prenatal care while simultaneously providing them with a community of others going through the same stages in their pregnancies. At every session, each couple has individual time with the midwife to talk about questions and concerns, hear the baby on the Doppler, and have the baby belly measured. At the beginning of each session, every pregnant participant weighs herself and records her own blood pressure - a nurse takes it, but we have a chart that we keep ourselves and write everything down in. The midwife inquires after these vitals during the one-on-one time. During the time the midwife is with each couple separately, everyone else eats snacks and chats and gets to know one another.
Centering Pregnancy is a program that is nationwide, and is supported in many other birth centers and hospitals across the country.
So, our night, our first session. We arrived and everyone was shepherded into the Community Room, where chairs and couches had been set up in a circle. The nurse, Jennifer, handed around markers and nametags, and then pushed her blood pressure checker machine thing around the circle and took all the blood pressures - of the pregnant women, not the rest of us! She handed out binders to everyone with all the information for all 10 sessions.
There was the obligatory "Let's go around the circle and introduce ourselves!" Which is always fun, when you're T & A. T made sure to refer to me as her wife, so others would know how we identify with each other, and told everyone that we're expecting our first and that we'd just learned that we are having a baby girl. (Joy! I'm still filled with joy.) I assumed ahead of time that we'd be the only lesbian couple, and I was correct. Everyone else had a husband. T was the only one with a wife; what a lucky girl she is.
The midwife introduced herself, but really the informational session was headed by the nurse. Nurse Jennifer. Who, incidentally, is also pregnant and due in September, which I thought was cool.
We discovered that there are 10 sessions in Centering, but the last one is actually a reunion, held in October after all the September babies have arrived. The 9th session is 2 weeks after T's due date, and the 8th session is ON the due date, LOL. The midwife assured us the 8th and 9th sessions are mostly review sessions and opportunities to commiserate and ask any remaining questions. If we're that concerned, we'll just review the material in our handy dandy ... NOTEBOOK! (Blue's Clues, anybody?)
The information in this first session is nothing we didn't know already. One of the curses of being super duper excited about babies and reading everything I could get my hands on before we were even trying. This session was about nutrition. I'm already tired of hearing about it; I can't imagine how T is tolerating it.
At one point, another person due on the same day as T was talking about lunchmeat and do we *really* need to heat it? The nurse suggested to just heat it until it's steaming, and the woman made a face and commented that it sounded really unappetizing that way, because "who really wants a pile of steaming meat?" Which I thought was a point well-made. She had all of us laughing so hard.
There are five other couples, in addition to us. Twelve people total, in these sessions, and I guess our group is a large one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all the other couples were easy to talk to and it didn't feel awkward to be gay in that room. I find that to be sometimes a rare commodity when first meeting a large group of new people who share only a pregnancy in common. However, nobody batted an eye and everyone was very friendly. Yay for that!
I fear that to combat potential awkwardness, my response is sometimes too pushy, too loud, or might seem like I'm trying too hard. Before I knew it, we'd told stories about how we came up with baby girl's name, about our unplanned/unknown horse pregnancy, and about our gay family practice doctor. In addition of course to stories about our ultrasound and about how excited we were to be having a daughter.
I did try to ask other couples questions and steer conversations their way, but I guess sometimes I'm simply too hilarious and charming and the conversation comes right back to me. Rather like a boomerang. What to do, what to do. I will try to step back a little in our next class (if I can remember; it's not for another month!) and not seem terribly overbearing or needy. Yikes. Sorry, T. I can be an embarrassment at times, haha.
Finally it was our turn to have midwife-time. Naturally, we were last because I was busy chatting everyone else up until they'd all left... We got to hear little girl's heartbeat in several different ways, which was totally awesome. We heard the heartbeat through her umbilical cord AND from her little body, both close up and far away. Or at least as far away as she can get in the space of a uterus. I didn't realize that you could hear a baby's heartbeat so many ways! The midwife was more than happy to move the Doppler around and demonstrate the different ways to hear it. She also pointed out that the squiggly noises were from darling daughter's movements! Very cool. T said that she was kicking away during the class, and she was certainly very active when the Doppler was looking for her.
And that was it. All in all, we had a lot of fun meeting everyone and learning about their families. As we suspected, the information isn't really anything new but we can always find something to take away from it. That's the same experience we had with our foster parenting classes, as well, and both the foster classes and the Centering sessions are for 10 weeks - how funny. Centering isn't 10 consecutive weeks, though.
I've blathered on long enough. That's all for this evening!