When the doors of the ambulance opened and Victoria Klohr saw Mt. Werner peeking out from behind the Emergency Department entrance at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, she inhaled the cool mountain air. She was home.
“I knew the doctors and nurses would take care of me and my baby,” she said.
Pregnancy is a journey. For Klohr, the journey to have her third son took her from her home in North Routt, to Steamboat Springs, to Denver, and back home again.
A quick turn of events
In March 2018, Klohr was 30 weeks pregnant with her third child.
“I didn’t feel any different, other than really pregnant,” she said. “And then one morning, I started leaking fluid. It felt like my water had broken.”
Klohr called UCHealth Women’s Care Clinic in Steamboat Springs, where she was a patient of Dr. Mary Bowman. Klohr had an appointment the next day, but Bowman wanted to see her now.
So, into the car went four-year-old Wyatt and 14-month-old Owen. Following a quick exam and test of the leaking fluid, it was confirmed that Klohr was leaking amniotic fluid.
“Everything moved pretty quickly after that – I went down the hall to the Birth Center and received a magnesium infusion to hopefully head off contractions,” she recalled. “Then the helicopter showed up.”
“Women with ruptured membranes can go into labor very quickly,” said Bowman. “I wanted Victoria to stay pregnant for several more weeks, but to ensure she had that chance, she needed to transfer to a larger hospital in Denver for more intense monitoring and inpatient hospitalization.”
In a blink, a friend from work scooped up her boys and Klohr was on her way to Denver.
Reality sets in
After the helicopter landed, Klohr was wheeled into an exam room for another test. Her care team began explaining that labor was likely to begin soon. They started preparing her for the delivery of a 30-weeker.
The next day, she received another magnesium infusion and a second steroid shot. It seemed like her water broke again and again.
Thankfully, contractions and labor didn’t come.
But the reality of the situation she was facing did.
“I was in Denver in the hospital, and Wyatt and Owen, who has special needs, were at home with a friend,” she said. “Wyatt goes to preschool three days a week, but Owen is always with me because of his care needs. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to cause any harm to the new baby, but what if he came early and I had to stay in the hospital? What about my other boys? At one point, I wanted to give up. I’m a person who likes to fix things, but I didn’t know how to fix this.”
Luckily, with the rotating help and care of Klohr’s mother and a few friends, Owen was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald of Denver, while Wyatt stayed with his dad.
The next hurdle
Fast-forward, and Klohr was nearing 34 weeks gestation. That’s when she put in a call to Bowman.
“I needed to come home,” Klohr said. “I knew the baby would come early and would have to be in the hospital for a bit. But I had two other children I needed to care for. There was no way in my mind I could deliver in Denver and have one baby there and my other sons back home.”
Bowman consulted with Dr. Ron Famiglietti, a pediatrician in Steamboat Springs.
“I met with the other pediatricians and the neonatal nurse practitioners in YVMC’s Special Care Nursery, and we all agreed we would do whatever we could to help the Klohr family,” Famiglietti said. “The risk, we knew, was that if there were any issues that came up with the baby that we were unable to take care of at YVMC, the baby may need emergency transport back to Denver.”
With confirmation that the baby, aside from prematurity, was healthy and that Klohr was medically stable for ambulance transport, Bowman agreed to receive Klohr back at YVMC. Klohr was discharged from the hospital in Denver and brought directly to YVMC where she was readmitted and scheduled for a C-section at 34 weeks.
“Coming over the pass, coming down into the valley, I knew I was home – I could feel it,” said Klohr. “I am not a city person. It was overwhelming to think about all the work that everyone did to make this happen.”
Klohr was transferred from the ambulance to the Family Birth Center by registered nurse Michelle Erps, who happened to be her labor and delivery nurse with her first two births.
“Since the floor was empty, Michelle told me I had ‘dealer’s choice’ of rooms. I chose room 55, the same room I had for my other two boys,” said Klohr. “It felt like I was having my baby at home with how familiar everything was.”
It wasn’t just a familiar room in a familiar hospital – the familiar faces of the doctors and nurses that surrounded Klohr were just as important to her.
“They were my support system,” she said. “They’re sensitive, yet pushy when they need to be, and I need that from them. Dr. Bowman is a really great doctor. I love that she doesn’t play around and is 100 percent ‘Team Baby’ when it comes to delivery. She’s told me before, ‘You’re a mom now – it’s not all about you anymore.’ I love that about her.”
On April 5, 2018, Bowman and Dr. David Schaller delivered Parker Leo Mark Klohr. He weighed 6 pounds and measured 18 inches long. Klohr gave him a quick kiss before he was taken to the Special Care Nursery, a Level II nursery. Parker did well, aside from the usual issues associated with being born six weeks early.
Following recovery, Susan Engle, a registered nurse who also helped Klohr with her first two deliveries, helped Klohr into a wheelchair so she could visit Parker in the nursery. He was healthy and breathing on his own.
“For the first time, it wasn’t, ‘What’s wrong with him? What’s going to happen to him?’” she recalled. “When Wyatt and Owen were in the nursery, there was always a team of people surrounding them and tubes and umbilical lines everywhere. I kept waiting for the other foot to drop, to move two steps forward, but then three steps back. Parker didn’t go backwards on me – he kept going forward. That made it easy for me to start going forward again.”
Making a difference
Thinking back about her experience, Klohr credits her medical community for not only helping to bring Parker into the world, but for helping her to do so at home.
“The difference is night and day at YVMC from other medical facilities,” she said. “The doctors and nurses know me. It’s nice to be able to bring my kids somewhere where the doctors are invested in more of what it means to be a doctor – to help people and be there for families when they’re in need.”
“Victoria is a wonderful mom,” said Bowman. “I’ve seen her with her boys when she hasn’t seen me, and she’s a good mom. That’s what great about this community; we see our patients in a medical setting, but we also see them out and about. Having a Special Care Nursery here in Steamboat allows us to keep patients – and in Victoria’s case, bring them back – here for care.”
A band of brothers
Klohr can’t wait to raise three very strong North Routt boys.
“There’s nowhere else where I feel more comfortable and more at home than outside, near our cabin,” she said. “It’s the quiet, the simplicity of it. Everything you need is right here – you just have to have the knowledge and wherewithal to go get it. I’ll teach them how to hunt and grow vegetables. I will raise them to be good human beings.”