A Shoreline couple grows their family at The Childbirth Center.
That question comes up a lot for parents expecting their
first baby; it was no different for Shoreline residents
Heather, 31, and Johnny Shi when they were expecting
their first child.
Meridian Women's Health obstetrician Dr. Carol Salerno
"Well, we'll make you an appointment for once a month,
then in the third trimester you come in once a week, and
then we'll deliver your baby."
Heather remembers asking if the labor would hurt, and
Dr. Salerno's matter-of-fact reply.
"She gave it to me straight," Heather says. "There was
something reassuring about that honesty. I knew I had
found the right doctor."
Heather and Johnny are your typical, everyday couple.
They have two beautiful children. Two-year-old Riley
and two-month-old Logan take up a lot of space in the
family's north end home. Toys are stacked high behind
the bassinet where Logan naps. Riley is enthralled by a
cartoon, but loses focus at the sound of Johnny's motorcycle
humming up the driveway. She hops off the couch,
skirts the ottoman and pads to the front door — she does
this quietly, conscious of not waking her brother.
The quiet doesn't last long. Dad is home and Riley is
hanging all over him, somehow managing to do a modified
Stairmaster climb using his hands as pedals and his
head as a perch. Before shifting his attention to Logan,
Johnny, 38, sets Riley up with a few crayons.
Johnny says the most important part about choosing an
obstetrician is personality, something he says Dr. Salerno
has in droves.
"We wanted someone Heather was comfortable with and
that we could be ourselves with," he explains. "There
are tons of obstetricians in the area and the skill level is
going to be very good. What we needed was a doctor who
'got' us. Dr. Salerno did."
But the couple says it wasn't just the doctor. Something
stood out about Meridian Women's Health and Northwest
Hospital's Childbirth Center. At a routine appointment
in the third trimester of her first pregnancy,
Heather began to feel severe back pain - so much pain
that Dr. Salerno decided to send her to the hospital.
Heather could barely stand, let alone drive. It was almost
5 p.m. and the office was about to close.
"One of the nurses drove me in my car over to the Childbirth
Center and wheeled me right in," she says. "They
got me comfortable in a bed and began monitoring me."
Though Heather felt like she had gone into labor, she
was actually passing a kidney stone. She gave birth to
Riley a week later. Heather jokes that it was like giving
birth twice in one week.
Whether a first-time or veteran mom, the hospital's
childbirth team works with mothers to carry out the birth
plan they have designed with their partner and obstetrician.
Mothers and babies are monitored with wireless,
waterproof technology, meaning laboring moms can
walk around freely, use birth balls and enjoy some relief
from the intensity of labor in one of the center's Jacuzzi
Close monitoring was important near the end of Heather's
second pregnancy when she noticed Logan's movements
begin to slow. Dr. Salerno immediately sent her to
the Childbirth Center for observation.
"We were there within the hour and the staff was already
waiting for us. They knew our name and were ready,"
Johnny says. "Everything was so organized..."
"...And connected," Heather finishes. "Northwest Hospital
and Dr. Salerno's office work together. I was nervous.
The first seven months had been perfect and now to
have something go wrong...Dr. Salerno was right there
for us the entire time."
Once hooked up to the wireless monitor, Logan started
moving again. Dr. Salerno takes every precaution when
taking care of her patients. That focused care is even
more important for parents with more complex pregnancies.
Many of these couples spend time at the Childbirth
Center long before their labor begins. They get to
know the team of caregivers and the caregivers get to
"The center is equipped with all the advanced technologies
and safety measures a larger hospital would have but
in a more intimate setting," Dr. Salerno explains.
The nurses are particularly integral to the birth experience.
During their fi rst pregnancy, Heather and Johnny
got to know their nurse Kelsey. They call her a "fantastic
"She was awesome," they say in unison.
"For the second delivery, we tried to work out the birthing
dream team &mbsp; Dr. Salerno and Kelsey &mbsp; and us, of
course," Johnny jokes. "There was a scheduling conflict,
so our nurse was Jennifer."
For the second pregnancy, the two skipped pregnancy
preparation classes. They say Jennifer's cheerleading
helped. When they needed prompts, Jennifer coached.
When Johnny needed an alarm clock, Jennifer woke him
in time for the delivery. And when the couple wanted to
go it alone, Jennifer allowed them to share the moment
"We forgot the breathing thing, when to give her ice
chips, when to rub her back," Johnny says, motioning to
Heather who is soothing a restless Logan. "Jennifer was
able to prompt us, but not take over the moment."
From labor to post-partum care, every aspect of Heather's
care was seamlessly coordinated. During the labor,
her contractions escalated quickly. Within 20 minutes,
her pain jumped from a two to a 10. The anesthesiologist
arrived within 10 minutes, administered the epidural
and stayed until he was sure she was comfortable.
"You always hear the stories about a 36-hour labor or
something going wrong, but the majority of pregnancies
and births are just like Heather's and Johnny's," Dr.
Salerno says. "They are a healthy, happy couple. They
asked the right questions. They were excited and they
had normal, safe pregnancies and healthy, beautiful
Parenting is hard work but the two say the rewards are
immeasurable. When Riley and Logan were born, the
couple says their hearts skipped a beat. That feeling
hasn't changed. One thing that has changed, though,
is Johnny's opinion of Northwest Hospital. His relationship
with the hospital began when he was born at the
Childbirth Center. So were his nieces and nephews, and
later, his parents received care at the hospital, too.
"I didn't really know how much I appreciated it until
they were helping us give birth to our children," he says.
Northwest Hospital offers women an array of services
including pregnancy, birth and after-birth care, as well
as routine gynecologic care. The hospital's talented
providers are board-certifi ed in obstetrics and gynecology.
They listen and collaborate with women and their
families, blending advanced medical care with personal