Compassion and individualized care led to Heidi's happy ending
After her gynecologist gave her an unexpected diagnosis that caught her off guard and left her feeling "weird and different," Heidi Ridenour, of Davenport, Iowa, turned to reproductive endocrinologist Jessica Kresowik, MD, at the University of Iowa Health Care Women’s Health Clinic in Davenport and got the personalized attention she needed to plan for her successful pregnancy. Here's Heidi's story:
In mid 2014, I went for my regular yearly checkup at my then-gynecologist’s office. During my appointment, I was asked, “Did I ever tell you that you have two cervices?” The answer was no.
I was shocked to hear her say this and, quite honestly, caught off guard. She took time to explain to me what she meant, printed some diagrams, and said she thought I had what was called a didelphic uterus—a double uterus with two separate cervices.
I didn’t know how to digest this news at first, and I let a lot of worry and fear control my thoughts. I felt weird and different. I felt nervous to tell my husband. I was scared because I didn’t know what this all meant for when we eventually wanted to start a family. It took me a while to be thankful for this news and to count the doctor’s attentiveness as a blessing.
I was told that a number of people do not end up being diagnosed until they are giving birth, as it can easily be missed. This news, as hard as it was to digest at first, was good news and gave me the opportunity to better understand my body as well as explore options I had in helping to pursue our dream of one day starting a family.
About a year later, in 2015, I had an MRI scan completed to get a better picture and actual diagnosis. We were in the middle of moving back to the Quad Cities area, and after we got a bit more settled, we started to look for a doctor to begin working with, which led us to Dr. Kresowik.
We met with Dr. Kresowik at the beginning of 2016, and it was determined that I did not have a didelphic uterus but instead had a septate uterus. Dr. Kresowik explained that I had a full septum down the middle of my uterus that separated it into two. Dr. Kresowik was very informative, drew diagrams for us, answered all of our questions, and gave us options to explore moving forward.
We were told that we still had “normal” chances of getting pregnant, but because of the size of the septum, I could be at a much higher risk of miscarriage (if the fertilized egg attached to the septum) or early term labor (due to not as much space for the baby to grow and develop). One of the options was for her to go in and surgically remove the septum.
We left the meeting feeling great about Dr. Kresowik—her way of communicating with us, listening to us, and her experience (she had done several other similar surgeries!). She was patient with us, giving us time to think over our next step, and didn’t push us to make a decision one way or another.
Yet, leaving this meeting also meant a lot of decision making. Should I have the surgery? Should we try to get pregnant first and see how it goes, possibly choosing surgery later on in our journey if needed? I was very much afraid of the thought of being put under anesthesia as I had never been before and was also letting fear of something going wrong take over.
After many discussions and prayers, we decided to move forward with the surgery.
In March of 2016, we went to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics for surgery. I remember Dr. Kresowik coming in before surgery to see how I was doing and to answer any last-minute questions. I remember her kindness and compassion. In the operating room, she stood by my bedside and chatted with me until I was under anesthesia.
Post-surgery, after I had gotten home and was recovering for a day or two, Dr. Kresowik called to check up on me and to see how I was recovering. How awesome is that?! She made me feel more than just another patient! A small portion of the septum was unable to be removed, but we were so pleased with Dr. Kresowik’s work.
After waiting a few months to recover and trying to get pregnant for a few months after that, we were ecstatic to find a positive pregnancy test in early November 2016. We were originally told that we may need to have more checkups and ultrasounds, but after one early ultrasound to check on the placement of the fetus, we were released from under her care and followed the normal checkup routines.
At 38 weeks and 4 days, my water broke. I remember praising God daily for the blessing of growing and developing a baby full-term. When I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t sure if that was going to be a possibility!
On June 29, 2017, my husband and I welcomed our son, Cohen Finn, into this world at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. Our hearts were so full! I am still in shock that we just celebrated Cohen’s second birthday a few days ago!
Throughout these several years of my story, there were a lot of emotions, unknowns, and decisions. I am beyond thankful for the role that Dr. Kresowik played in our lives. I am thankful that she chose to use her God-given gifts and talents, as well as her hard work in her schooling and studies, to be a blessing to those she comes into contact with and help others experience the gift of life. I am thankful for her compassion and her genuine care of me as her patient. We could never thank her enough for the part she has played in our story!