Two weeks on from the birth of her baby daughter Reese, Lacie Hietalati is heading back to her healthcare center. Taking her child in for a routine checkup, the mom naturally hopes to hear that everything is as it should be. But during her visit, she encounters something unexpected. Dr. Erik Bostrom is there to greet Hietalati, and he shares three words with her.
Before we get into the details of the surprise, though, let’s learn a bit more about Bostrom. The former is a family medicine doctor at the Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, Minnesota. Prior to that, he’d earned a physics diploma at Bethel University and attended the University of Minnesota Medical School. Now, the physician treats people of all ages, but he also delivers babies occasionally, too.
Bostrom touched upon his responsibilities during a conversation with the Star Tribune newspaper in December 2018. He said, “Much of my time is spent taking care of old and sick people. [But when I deliver a baby], rather than sadness and hardship, people are full of joy and excitement. It’s a really cool part of medicine.”
Bostrom first joined the Riverwood Healthcare Center team in 2016 after completing his academic studies. The doctor is originally from the city of Mora in Minnesota, and he got into the profession through a so-called U program focusing on rural practice.
As we highlighted earlier, Bostrom clearly takes great joy in delivering babies at the medical facility. And he explained as much in a bio description on the Riverwood Healthcare Center’s website. The doctor wrote, “I believe that each patient is unique and requires individual attention, coaching, and guidance to achieve a positive childbirth experience.”
Bostrom then went on to describe one of the things which drives him most at work. He said, “My goal with every pregnancy is to have a healthy mom and a healthy baby at the end. Delivering babies is the most rewarding part of my job.”
Away from the hospital, Bostrom has plenty of other interests to keep him busy. He added, “I have a beautiful wife [who] I enjoy spending time with. I also enjoy just about any outdoor activity: including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, running, bird-watching and cutting trails on my land.”
For her part, Hietalati also shares Bostrom’s love of hunting. According to her Facebook account, the mom is a keen cooker and swimmer in her free time, too. She also apparently helps her husband out with his beaver business.
As of 2018 Hietalati held a position at the EyeCare Center of Aitkin & McGregor in Minnesota. She had first joined the local business three years prior – working as a certified paraoptometric. Unsurprisingly, though, Hietalati’s life changed forever after she became pregnant with her first baby.
Ahead of that big day in 2018, Hietalati had a decision to make regarding her choice of hospital. In the end, she made up her mind fairly quickly – opting for the Riverwood Healthcare Center. For you see, the paraoptometric had been going to that medical facility for decades, so she already felt comfortable there.
Hietalati then detailed what happened next on the Riverwood Healthcare Center’s website. In the post, she shed a bit of light on her relationship with Bostrom and the other staff at the hospital. Hietalati wrote, “When it came to my questions of labor and delivery and being a first-time parent, Dr. Erik Bostrom was always so patient and understanding.”
“[Bostrom] answered all my questions with confidence,” Hietalati went on. “And if he wasn’t sure, he would check on the answer and get back to me right away. When I was in labor, [Bostrom] stayed with me for the whole experience.”
Hietalati added, “We felt so comfortable and confident with [Bostrom], and the OB nurses were phenomenal. They were so encouraging throughout my labor experience.” Following all of that, she eventually gave birth to a baby girl called Reese.
Reese then had a few busy days ahead of her – much like any other newborn. After a baby is delivered, they’ll need to visit their doctor for the first time within that week. During the meeting, a pediatrician and a nurse will normally give the youngster a thorough examination.
To give you a better idea of what to expect, these checkups usually follow a similar pattern. The baby’s measurements are recorded by a nurse to begin with. The medical worker will also jot down the width of the youngster’s skull, too.
A doctor present will normally then run a number of physical tests. For example, they’ll look at the baby’s neck and shoulders to see if the latter has suffered a damaged collarbone. It’s a fairly common injury for newborns after their delivery, and the issue usually resolves itself within a handful of weeks.
The doctor will examine the baby’s pelvic region as well. This particular test is done to rule out an ailment called developmental hip dysplasia. Dr. Vinita Seru told the Parents website in January 2020, “The exam looks completely barbaric. I tell families what I’m doing so they don’t think I’m trying to hurt the baby.”
One of the other tests relates to the baby’s reflexes, as the physician tries to determine if they are maturing correctly. Newborns will often throw their arms up in the air like they’re falling if they become alarmed. So medical professionals will surprise the baby to generate a response from them. And if they don’t get one, it could be a sign that the baby has some kind of neurological issue.
Some of the aforementioned tests carry over into future appointments, as the doctor continues to monitor the baby’s development. And the checkup conducted two weeks after the birth is arguably just as important as the first one. Once again, the youngster will be thoroughly examined to determine if they’re okay.
At this subsequent checkup the baby will be weighed and measured for a second time. The child should normally be a little heavier at this stage, as babies lose up to 10 percent of their body weight after birth. Furthermore, medical professionals will also seek feedback from the parents.
Moms and dads will be quizzed about their baby’s eating and sleeping patterns during the visit two weeks after birth. The physician will also try to get a bit of insight into how they’re coping as well. However, while that’s all going on, the youngster might need some distractions over the course of the appointment.
San Antonio family practice physician Dr. Brian MacGillivray told the Parents website in January 2020 that keeping the child occupied during that meeting is important. He said, “At a two-week exam, warmth, cuddling, loving and reassuring voices are more helpful than a stuffed animal.” And Hietalati had all of that to look forward to in 2018.
As we mentioned earlier, Hietalati had traveled back to the Riverwood Healthcare Center for Reese’s two-week checkup. And when they arrived, the new mom was quickly greeted by Bostrom ahead of the appointment. But instead of running through the tests that we’ve discussed, the doctor uttered three words that left her shocked.
Given Bostrom was a fairly new doctor, he decided to try something novel to build trust among his patients. To explain more, he spoke to Fox 9 in December 2018. He informed the news station, “I just thought I had to do something to try and get patients to come [and] see me as the new guy.”
And Bostrom’s approach was effective, if Hietalati’s incredible reaction was anything to go by. Speaking to the channel after their meeting, the paraoptometric revealed that he’d prepared a big surprise for her and Reese that caught them off-guard.
Hietalati said, “At [Reese’s] two-week checkup appointment, [Bostrom] came in and then he said, ‘I have something.’ And he brings out this beautiful pink blanket.” The doctor had personally sewn a unique comforter for Reese prior to the meeting – detailing the baby’s height, weight and birth date.
Bostrom had been creating customized blankets for all of the babies that he’d delivered at the Riverwood Healthcare Center. The physician worked on them at his home and each of the quilts took took up to five hours to create, Bostrom told the channel. And while he’d only oversee a couple of births each month, it was still a lot of effort.
Hietalati was, of course, absolutely bowled over by Bostrom’s effort. She told Fox 9, “It’s a beautiful blanket. It’s something [my daughter will] cherish her entire life. He takes the extra time out of his busy schedule to do this for his patients. That’s a lot. He will be our doctor from now on.”
But why did Bostrom decide to start knitting blankets for the babies he helps deliver? Well, during the period when he was searching for a way to build trust with his patients, another medical worker had brought up the idea.
Bostrom wasn’t too sure about creating his own blankets to begin with, yet his mindset eventually changed once he got going. The Riverwood Healthcare Center worker told the Star Tribune, “I’ve sewn a lot of people, a lot of skin. But I never sewed fabric.”
To help Bostrom along the way, he took to watching YouTube videos during the initial stages in order to learn the basics. His mom and sister-in-law offered their assistance too, and the former was able to offer particularly valuable help as she runs a company that produces decorative pillows.
So Bostrom finally got into the sewing groove at home, and it apparently wasn’t as challenging as he first feared. The doctor told the Star Tribune, “[My family] taught me how to use a sewing machine. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
However, Bostrom’s approach was slightly different with his earlier blankets. Instead of personalizing the fabrics with the newborn baby’s measurements himself, he only produced a simple comforter with two different materials. One end was entirely made up of flannel, while the other part boasted what he called “cuddly fabric.”
Initially, Bostrom relied on someone else to add the baby’s date of birth, name, weight and length to the blankets. In the first 12 months, he enlisted the help of a professional to complete the stitching, but everything changed when they left Minnesota. The medical worker then decided to take on the responsibility alone.
Bostrom learned how to finish the job, as he got hold of some “fancy” sewing apparatus. He told the Star Tribune, “The best part of it in my mind is that it was made by Husqvarna, and that’s the same brand as my chainsaw. I thought it was cool that I could cut down trees and sew baby blankets with the same brand of equipment.”
Unsurprisingly, Bostrom’s efforts quickly caught the attention of other expectant parents. He explained, “[The story] is starting to get out now, so I think a fair number of moms are kind of expecting it. They’re usually pretty excited. A couple of them have teared up on me.”
Soon enough, Borstrom’s selfless work started to gain national attention. Yet the coverage didn’t end there, as The Uplift Facebook page created a video on the story in December 2018. And it went on to generate a massive response.
Since being posted on the social media website, the video has earned around 24 million views and more than 2,800 likes. Alongside that, it’s accumulated just under 2,500 shares and over 190 comments as well. And many of those messages were very supportive of Bostrom’s kind efforts.
Bostrom then offered up a few final thoughts during his chat with the Star Tribune. The physician admitted that he couldn’t have visualized everything that happened after he’d first started sewing. He also touched upon his personal life and revealed that some very special blankets were on the back-burner.
“Three years ago, if you had told me I would be creating gifts for people by sewing, I would have laughed at you,” Bostrom explained. “But making something for someone makes it that much cooler. I never thought sewing could be so much fun. I’m getting married in May, and my fiancée is expecting me to make these for our children.”