Carter Hein is just 6 months old, too young to realize that long before the day he was born, his parents were already looking out for him.
Like many first-time parents-to-be, Penny and John Hein experienced a whirlwind of emotions when they learned in November 2011 that they were expecting. This was, after all, uncharted territory for them. Both believed that top-notch prenatal care from a doctor they could count on to personally guide them through the pregnancy was key to ensuring Carter the best possible start in life. Friends recommended Dr. Bruce Herman of KVH Family Medicine - Ellensburg.
Herman and his nurse, Debbie Perry, are old hands at calming the nerves of expectant parents - and there's good reason. He delivers about 120 babies a year and has been at the clinic 23 years. She's got 38 years as a nurse under her belt, 28 of them at the clinic, 13 of them working side-by-side with Herman.
Perry, says Penny, "was nurturing and motherly. As for Herman, "Within ten minutes of meeting Dr. Herman you could tell he really was interested in his patients, that he loved people and cared about them," John says. "He was warm, personable and informative. Any nervousness we had quickly disappeared." Herman and Perry both encouraged Penny to call at any time if she had questions or concerns. More than once, Penny did.
Herman, the Heins say, has a talent for making expectant parents feel special. "We learned something new at each visit and he explained things in a way we would understand, outlining our options, recommending what he thought would be best but ultimately let us decide what was the best fit for us," Penny says. "It was very personal."
With normal pregnancies, patients meet with Perry and with Herman in the clinic about fourteen times prior to delivery. Regular office visits involve blood pressure monitoring, weight checks, growth measurements, checks of fetal heart tones and checks for sugar and protein in the urine. At certain points, there also are checks for increased risk of congenital abnormalities and gestational diabetes. In addition, Herman sees the patient twice at KVH Hospital for ultrasounds.
Despite the number of pregnancies handled annually in the practice, Perry says there's something special about each one. "Pregnancy is such an amazing, incredible process and unique every time," she says, noting that often something as simple as a touch on the arm or lending an ear helps build connection with patients. And while she helps educate and guide patients, she also learns from them, she says.
By the time Penny entered KVH Hospital last July 30, Penny and John felt well prepared and grateful for prenatal care they say was everything they'd hoped for. The following day, Carter weighed in at solid eight pounds five ounces.
"I couldn't take my eyes off him," John says proudly.
Truth is, sometimes he still can't.