Heather and Danny Holwerda are preparing to be outnumbered, as the Crookston couple gets ready for the birth of its third child on Oct. 25.
The Holwerda family may be familiar to many, as Danny is the lead pastor at Nexus Church in Crookston. Originally from Brooklyn Park, MN, Heather has lived in the area since 2006 when she began attending the University of Minnesota-Crookston. She loved it so much she decided to stay. She and Danny were married in 2014. The couple has two girls: Alexa (4) and Abigail, who will turn two about the time the new baby
Consistent Care from Beginning to End
Heather is a repeat obstetrics (OB) patient of Dr. Kari Wessman’s, OB/GYN, at RiverView Health. A Crookston native, Dr. Wessman began offering gynecological services at RiverView on a part-time basis in 2009. In January 2019, she joined RiverView full time and added obstetric services to her practice, as well.
“At this point, I feel like I have gotten to see just about all the options this area has, short of driving to Fargo,” Heather said of delivering Alexa in Grand Forks in June 2017 and Abigail at RiverView in October 2019. “I started working with Dr. Wessman at the beginning of my second pregnancy. I was looking for a change. I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, things were getting missed, and you have one doctor for your prenatal and then it is the luck of the draw regarding who is on call for delivery.”
Having delivered babies at other facilities, Dr. Wessman understands Heather’s concerns. “Women delivering at RiverView have a distinct advantage over larger facilities because we, as providers, follow them all the way through their prenatal care and 90 percent of the time their provider is there for the delivery,’’ she shared. “That’s not usually the case in bigger facilities where you may deliver with the doctor on duty instead of your doctor.’’
Dr. Wessman was recommended by Heather’s primary care provider, Natalie Royal, FNP-C, at RiverView Clinic-East Grand Forks. The fact that Dr. Wessman sees patients at RiverView Clinics in Crookston and East Grand Forks works well for Heather, as the family lives in Crookston, but she works as a veterinarian technician in Grand Forks. Heather can schedule appointments in either location, depending on availability.
Knowing ‘Something’s Not Right’
Heather credits Dr. Wessman with seeing her through a tough pregnancy. “My second pregnancy was much harder on me than my first. I was very nauseous throughout and had other things pop up that, to me, didn’t seem right. I felt I was in much more pain than should be normal, especially after having one child already.
“Dr. Wessman was very good at listening to my concerns and even scheduled extra lab work to make sure nothing was going wrong.”
But when the tests came back normal, frustration and fear of not knowing what was causing the pain heightened. About three-and-a-half weeks from her due date, Heather started having what felt like contractions and was in “excruciating” pain. After determining she was not in active labor, the team at RiverView worked to get her rehydrated. With hydration, the contractions stopped, but the pain, centered in her low pelvis and right side, did not. She stayed at RiverView overnight for monitoring.
Heather’s stay was over a weekend when Dr. Wessman was out of town, but that didn’t stop Dr. Wessman from being in continuous contact throughout Heather’s hospital stay. Ultimately, Dr. Wessman had Heather scheduled for a C-section the following Monday morning to ease her pain, but that plan never came to fruition.
“Dr. Wessman actually ended up coming back from her trip early, saw how much pain I was in, and made the decision to do a C-section right then on Sunday evening,” Heather shared. “They were wondering if my pain was related to my appendix but were unable to do imaging due to my pregnancy. So they called in a second surgeon and removed my appendix during the C-section.”
An Answer for the Pain
Fortunately, the pain ceased once baby Abigail was born. It turned out it hadn’t been her appendix to blame for the pain. Heather was diagnosed with chorioamnionitis, a bacterial infection that occurs before or during labor infecting the chorion, amnion, and amniotic fluid around the fetus. It can lead to preterm birth or serious infection in the mother and the baby. E. coli, group B streptococci, and anaerobic bacteria are the most common causes of chorioamnionitis.
Because of the added issues, Abigail struggled to breathe at birth and needed to be taken to a NICU in Grand Forks by ambulance. “The team at RiverView was great. Even by the time the ambulance got to RiverView, she was breathing better.” Abigail spent a week in the NICU.
Heather and Abigail do not have any lasting issues from chorioamnionitis. The previous infection does put Heather in the high risk category for this pregnancy, though, so Dr. Wessman is monitoring her more closely with increased ultrasounds and other tests.
“I would absolutely recommend Dr. Wessman to others and have mentioned her and RiverView in general to several coworkers that are annoyed with either a lack of answers or scheduling restrictions at bigger clinics,’’ reported Heather. “Dr. Wessman cares about her patients and is good at listening and replying to questions via MyChart messaging as well. Also, her nurse Dawn (Johnston) is wonderful!’’
Today, the Holwerda family of four anxiously awaits its new member, a boy. “Danny is a ‘junior’ and has been hoping for a boy since high school to carry on the family name,” according to Heather. He’ll soon have his wish, and the couple will be outnumbered.
If you are interested in more information on OB services at RiverView Health, call 218.281.9300.
Pictured above: Heather Holwerda (left) is a repeat OB patient of Dr. Kari Wessman’s. Holwerda appreciates the fact that Dr. Wessman provided OB care from start to finish of her second pregnancy. She is counting on that for her third pregnancy. Pictured below: Dr. Kari Wessman measures Heather Holwerda at an office appointment in East Grand Forks.