Catie Valdez, 28, is a baby professional. She works at Generations OB/Gyn as a medical assistant. She sees mothers-to-be every day on the job, listens to their questions, helps them find the answers.
But still, when it was time for her to give birth to daughter Alessandra at Yakima Valley Memorial's Family Birthplace, she had questions of her own. "Will I really know when I'm in labor?" she wondered. Dr. (Leslie) McLemore, who is both her boss and her doctor, told her "Oh, you'll know. You'll know!"
But she kind of didn't know. "Turns out I was in labor all day, but it wasn't that bad," Catie says. "Then my water broke at 8:45 p.m., I got to the hospital at 9:30 p.m. and had Ale (Alessandra) at 10:15 p.m.
"With Bella (Isabella), I was going to get ready and go in to work and just ask one of the doctors there to check and tell me if I needed to go to the hospital, but I decided to just head there instead. I was admitted at 6 a.m. and had her at 10:30 p.m."
Catie Valdez is one of those women who has no trouble being pregnant. Both times she worked right up until she delivered. (Her baby shower with her Generations workmates was one day before she gave birth to Ale.) Catie suffers no nausea, loses the weight easily and, while pregnant with Ale, she actually craved healthy food!
But that doesn't mean the past two years have been easy. Not by a longshot.
"I had Ale on Dec. 2, 2017, and I took full maternity leave, three months. The day after I came back to work, my husband, Freddie, was so ill he was admitted to Swedish Hospital in Issaquah. He was there from the end of February until early April. They were trying to figure out what was wrong with him that whole time!"
Doctors removed 10 feet of Freddie's large intestine, most unusual for a man 24 years old. He also had another surgery in August 2018 and again in December. "We thought he was done," Catie says, "but he got sick, and in May 2019 he had surgery again. And he probably needs one more." She sighs, looks worried, but is determined to continue her story.
"That's the reason we had our second baby so soon — the doctors told us Freddy might not be able to have babies after the August surgery. I had a six-week window, and I got pregnant in July 2018. Isabella was born on March 19, 2019. Freddy adores the girls. He told me, 'I feel God gave me girls to help me some day.' "
And this is where she explains why, in their case especially, it truly did take a village to make life manageable for this young couple. The family lives in Toppenish, where they were raised. Freddy has a barbershop there. Both their families live there.
"My mom helped me so much, she stayed with me. Freddy's mom stayed with him in the hospital. Then my parents took the baby on the weekends so I could be with Freddy. Our babysitter takes care of all of my parents' grandkids, so the cousins are together all day while we're at work.
"Then, when I left for Freddie's surgery, everybody at Generations pitched in. They helped us stay afloat. They brought me toilet paper, groceries, gift cards, diapers.
"I have my family at home, and I have my family at work. God has truly blessed me. I have amazing people in my life.
"I love my job, and, honestly, it's because of the doctors. They're so good to us. They are so generous to their patients and to all of us there. Anything we ask they don't just tell us the answer, they teach us. And having babies myself has helped me in my job. Now, for instance, when patients call in with mastitis (inflammation of the breast tissue), I know how painful that is. I feel so bad for them, and I know I can help."