Kari Rivard’s first pregnancy was pretty smooth sailing. Following some blood pressure concerns around week 36, baby girl, Kenzley, entered this world at 5 pounds, 5 ounces after 28 hours of labor following induction.
About a year later, baby sister Kaelynn’s entrance wasn’t quite as simple.
“My second pregnancy seemed perfectly fine, until it wasn’t,” explains Kari.
At 20 weeks and 6 days, after returning to work from shopping on her lunch break, the unexpected happened. Kari’s water broke—much too soon.
“I called the clinic and was told to come in right away to check for amniotic fluid,” shares Kari, recalling that panicked moment in 2016.
At her check-up, Kari realized if she stayed pregnant with her water broke, there was a serious risk of infection. However, if she delivered now, it was too early.
From Grand Forks to Rochester and Back
She and her husband, Kent, went to the Mayo Clinic soon after. They spent three days in Rochester, while Kari showed no more signs of leaking amniotic fluid.
“Dr. Lessard stayed in touch with us, checking in often,” explains Kari. “We felt so well cared for during this stressful time.”
“Ultrasounds continued to be reassuring,” shares Dr. Lessard. “The Rivards were sent home with the diagnosis of previable preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). Management involves close outpatient monitoring until viability is reached (23-24 weeks) and then admission to the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy.”
“I had some bleeding, and it got worse that weekend,” shares Kari. “Dr. Lessard told me to come back.”
Home Away From Home
“I completely trusted Dr. Lessard and her team, so I decided to stay in Grand Forks,” shares Kari. “The Family Birthing Center gave me the biggest room available, because I was planning to stay for some time.”
And that’s exactly what she did. Big sister Kenzley’s birthday celebration was held at Altru in a downstairs conference room with family. She had a dorm fridge wheeled in. The beloved family dog, Mya, was able to visit. Kent traveled to and from Argyle twice daily, and countless friends and family members visited around the clock.
“It wasn’t half bad,” laughs Kari. “I even got my Christmas shopping done online. But seriously, the fourth-floor staff was amazing. They got to know our family so well.”
“The entire time, Dr. Lessard checked in daily. I remember one time she was standing in the front row at a concert, and she called to see how I was doing. She was always researching and checking in with the team at Mayo Clinic to make sure we were doing the right things.”
Forty-five days later, on the morning of December 20, Kari woke up with contractions. She was 28 weeks and five days along.
“Dr. Lessard was there in about two minutes,” she recalls. “I remember her walking in the room, checking me out, and saying, ‘It’s go time!’”
Less than sixty minutes later, baby girl Kaelynn was safely delivered via c-section, weighing in at 3 pounds, 6 ounces. Kaelynn then spent another seven weeks in the NICU, with continued frequent visits from Dr. Lessard.
“The NICU wasn’t too scary, because it meant she was alive,” explains Kari. “We took her home at five pounds, which felt amazing.”
One of Kari’s best friends today is another mom she met during their time in the NICU. She smiles, “We still do playdates and get together often.”
Third Time’s a Charm
Fifteen months later, when Kaelynn was a bubbly toddler, Kari and Kent discovered they were expecting again.
“We were thrilled, but also scared after our last experience,” she shares. “I let Dr. Lessard know right away and saw her at seven weeks. I was a train wreck at every appointment until after 28 weeks. I remember crying at several appointments, and Dr. Lessard would give me a hug and told me repeatedly that it is okay to feel scared and worried.”
Kari continued with a weekly progesterone shot to help prevent pre-term labor. Baby boy, Kolton, was carried until 39 weeks and 5 days, with a textbook delivery. Kari went into labor in the middle of the night, delivered him vaginally and enjoyed a short hospital stay.
Reflecting back on her pregnancy and delivery experiences at Altru, Kari shares, “I will always remember how much everyone cared. Not only Dr. Lessard, but everyone, from the cleaning crew to the nurses knowing us by name. It meant a lot.”