"I think back to the day we saw that first ultrasound and thought, 'Life is starting.' It really was a wake-up call."
Like many young couples, Audrey Natavio and Colin Nebeck were career-focused. They met on the job as phlebotomists at Seattle's Polyclinic, then relocated together to Ellensburg and to new roles in the lab at KVH Hospital. Starting a family was nowhere on their radar.
"It was a rough time for us, breaking-point rough," recalls Natavio, whose schedule made it difficult for the couple to spend much time together. In addition to working weekends at KVH, Natavio traveled to Seattle for school during the week. She was training to become a medical assistant, and even pregnancy didn't slow Natavio down. Her mother, Benie, had been an OB nurse in the Philippines, and for Natavio, being an MA was an important stepping stone to a nursing career of her own.
Natavio's calendar was full. And it was about two months into this packed schedule when she received the unexpected, life-altering news that she was pregnant. She was already in the Seattle area for school, so she started her pre-natal care there, too. When she learned she'd deliver in January or February, the winter commute became an issue.
"What if I couldn't make it over the Pass to see my doctor?" she worried.
It was time to consider local options.
Now in her second trimester, Natavio decided to check out KVH Women's Health. As a KVH employee, she feared it would be awkward to receive treatment from people she knew as coworkers. She was glad to be wrong. "I was actually surprised how much better the care was over here," she says. "Everybody was just great."
Like many first-time parents, Natavio and Nebeck attended birthing classes and got a tour of the KVH birthing suites. "There's so much equipment tucked into the cabinets, everything they need is there," she says. "And the beds? They're like transformers!"
For the remainder of her pregnancy, Natavio was in and out of the birthing center and women's health clinic for various tests and appointments. "Whether it was for test results or anything else," she says, "it was never me having to reach out to them. They were always timely and attentive." She also took advantage of breastfeeding classes, calling instructor Rozsika Steele a "great resource, and always available."
When the day finally came, Natavio was admitted to the Family Birthing Place at 7 a.m. She felt safe and comfortable there. "I was actually more afraid of an IV start than I was delivering," she says, recalling her phlebotomy days. With no complications, and surrounded by friends and family, baby Heidi June was born just before midnight.
Natavio was smitten. "I held her, and I thought, 'This is the start of my life, right here.'"
Nebeck's dad, who Natavio calls "one of the most supportive people in our lives," was there for the birth. Natavio's family arrived the next day. She fights back happy tears as she recalls "seeing the joy we were able to give to our parents and in-laws. What a great feeling that is."
Baby Heidi turned one last February, and couldn't be more loved. By all accounts, she's easy-going and always smiling and cheerful. "Heidi loves going to daycare. She's pretty social for a little one, loves to play tea time and loves her cats." Heidi's one pet peeve? People who mess with her hair. "She's got a lot of hair," grins Natavio. "The first thing Colin asked before she was fully born was 'Does she have any hair?' Dad's very proud of the hair."
A proud father, Nebeck continues to work in the hospital lab. After three years of working "with a team of really great people," Natavio left the lab with her MA certification, and joined KVH Family Medicine - Ellensburg, where she's part of a care team headed by Dr. Mark Larson.
Being a mom has impacted every part of Natavio's life - including how she interacts with patients at the clinic. "I know how to hold a baby's head properly and set them down, or if a mom just gave birth, I remember what that was like. 'Let me get that for you,' I'll say to the woman who's trying to carry her purse, a diaper bag, and a car seat. I've even changed a few diapers. I mean, what mom can't use a diaper break?"
Natavio no longer worries about any awkwardness in being a patient treated by coworkers. She works at the same clinic as her primary care provider, José Diaz, and she couldn't be happier. "I feel really comfortable here now, because of the great care I got with my pregnancy," says Natavio.
Natavio and Nebeck are where they want to be - happy in their careers, and in their home. Their family is closer than ever, and little Heidi gets a lot of the credit. "Since having her, we've grown in our love and understanding for each other," says Natavio. "And I'm beyond fine with Colin loving another girl. We both love Heidi so much."