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Mom’s Coming Home

May 11, 2023

Jenn Schappert reflects on spending her first Mother’s Day in hospital

Jenn Schappert was diagnosed with a rare form of heart failure after delivering her twins.

Jenn Schappert is grateful to spend this Mother’s Day with her beautiful, healthy twins Saoirse and Sawyer. Schappert is especially grateful because she couldn’t spend her first Mother’s Day this way.

Schappert delivered Saoirse and Sawyer at HSC Women’s Hospital on May 5, 2021, and aside from a few days at home shortly after their birth, she didn’t return home to be with her twins until May 23.

Schappert followed her doctor’s orders and went on maternity leave early in her third trimester because of the stress from her job as a science teacher during the evolving pandemic and the physical strain of carrying twins as Schappert is only four feet, 10 inches tall.

The pregnancy seemed to be going well except for pain in Schappert’s sternum and swelling that began in her legs and began moving up her body.

Since swelling and pressure from babies kicking in the womb is so common during pregnancy, the discomfort wasn’t analyzed. And Schappert thought that the feeling in her sternum may be from scar tissue as a result of esophageal surgery she had as a child.

Almost a month before the twins’ due date, Schappert’s blood pressure spiked and she had an emergency c-section. Thankfully, the twins were healthy and so was Schappert—but Schappert unfortunately didn’t remain that way.

“I told the staff that I had to see my babies. They tried to accommodate the best that they could and would bring me to the NICU to see Saoirse and Sawyer between my tests and appointments,” says Jenn Schappert.

“When I got home, I was completely winded—I couldn’t catch my breath,” says Schappert.

The next day, Schappert’s health worsened.

Schappert was admitted to HSC again where she underwent multiple tests and scans. Schappert had fluid drained from her lungs and was put on oxygen.

“Everything changed when I received the results from the echocardiogram. I was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare form of heart failure associated with pregnancy,” says Schappert.

Valves in Schappert’s heart weren’t closing, and blood was flowing backwards. Schappert’s heart was enlarging and her heart’s ability to pump was so low that nothing was moving through her body properly.

“I told the staff that I had to see my babies. They tried to accommodate the best that they could and would bring me to the NICU to see Saoirse and Sawyer between my tests and appointments,” says Schappert.

After two weeks in the NICU, Saoirse and Sawyer were discharged while Schappert remained hospitalized.

While it was a frightening period, Schappert reflects on the compassionate care she received.

“Everyone was kind and supportive. I’ll never forget a nurse at HSC Women’s who would make time to chat with me about life, even though she was incredibly busy in the midst of a COVID-19 wave. It’s that personal touch that stands out to me during an otherwise chaotic time,” says Schappert.

Jenn Schappert with her husband and their twins Saoirse and Sawyer.

Upon discharge, Schappert completed a cardiac rehab program and will forever be on a heart-health diet and medication. While this is a lifelong condition, Schappert’s heart pump function was almost entirely restored six months post-discharge and she continues to live a healthy lifestyle—one that includes playing and chasing after her active toddlers.


This Mother’s Day, the HSC Foundation thanks the staff at HSC Women’s Hospital for their tremendous dedication to patient care in Manitoba. Help HSC further support women’s health with a gift to the HSC Foundation. To make your gift, please click here, call 204-515-5612 or 1-800-679-8493 (toll-free).

By Natasha Havrilenko