Let’s start at the beginning…the best place to start.
My husband and I met when we were 16 years old and have been together ever since. We moved in together in 2014 and not long after he finally popped the question! I said Yes! We started to plan our wedding and the rest of our lives together! How many kids, their names, where we would live, where they’d go to school…beautiful, care free hopes and dreams. We were married in June 2016, the happiest day I will never forget.
It was our first Christmas as a married couple! Christmas is very special time to us all so we enjoyed every minute catching up with friends and family. January 2017 I found out I was pregnant!
I bought those digital pregnancy tests as I wanted to see the word Pregnant so I didn’t get it wrong! I had a feeling and I was right, POSITIVE!!! I showed Ben the test when he came home from work. We were so happy and a little shocked! We hadn’t been trying for long! I remember he said ‘My Mum is going to be so happy! First Grandchild!’
As soon as we got our positive pregnancy test, we couldn’t help but think about the future with our baby! Will it be a boy or girl? What will the due date be? Schools, colleges, jobs! It is such a beautiful time full of love and excitement. We told our closest family and then carried on as normal until we could have an ultrasound scan and make sure all was ok with our baby.
Our 12-week scan came and there was our baby! Little heartbeat flickering away, strong and healthy. My bloods were taken and they came back perfect. Everything was perfect.
We were very much looking forward to our 20-week scan. The Anomaly Scan. The Big One! We were planning to go buggy shopping after this scan to celebrate this pregnancy milestone. We might even buy a baby grow or teddy bear for our baby!
We arrived at the Ultrasound department and the sonographer began to scan me. At the start of every scan my husband and I held hands. They are nervous times no matter what news you get! You kind of hold your breath at the start of every scan until you know all is ok with baby.
This scan was different to our last one. The sonographer was very quiet as she scanned all over my belly. She then told us she just wanted to bring in another sonographer to have a look. I squeezed my husbands hand tighter. My husband is my rock. He kept me calm. There is nothing to worry about.
After the second sonographer scanned me and moved me around from one side to the other to get lots of views, we were told that our baby was measuring small and may have a heart valve malformation. They advised they do some blood tests and scan me again in two weeks.
This was obviously a huge shock to us. Everything had been going fantastic. I was aware these things can show up and maybe baby might need surgery post birth but there is so much they can do now. Everything will be fine. Sure why would they leave me two weeks to scan again if it was serious.
I took the next two weeks off work. I rested at home. I ate the healthiest food and I felt baby getting bigger and stronger.
We returned at 22 weeks pregnancy for our follow up scan. I just knew baby had gotten bigger, I could feel it, baby is going to be so healthy in this scan. My husband and I held hands as she began to scan my belly. We did a little squeeze as we were excited to see our baby on the screen.
She didn’t scan for long. She then said the words that will forever feel like a knife in my stomach and changed our lives forever. ‘There is no heartbeat’.
I can remember feeling my body floating up to the ceiling and I was looking down at myself. A different person. Two different people. I felt pins and needles all over my body. What was going on? What did she say? My heart rate sped up, I couldn’t control my breath, I began to cry, to scream, to go into shock. Do I give birth? I said. What happens now?! My husband held me tight.
We were brought into a side room where we met the Bereavement Team. Trish, Jane & Ann. You helped us so much in this moment and beyond. We could never have gotten through this time without your support and guidance. They asked us questions like would you like to name your baby? We were so clueless we didn’t know how to answer. They gave us so much support we will forever be indebted to them.
We were allowed to go home. For me it was pure shock at this time. Our baby plans gone. Our lives changed forever. So many questions.
I was due to come back in 2 days to deliver our baby. It was a dark, grey Saturday with the heaviest rain you could imagine. The weather reflected our feelings.
I was admitted to the Gynae ward and my husband was able to stay with me. I was induced and the process of delivering our baby began. I was in labour for about 10 hours and finally, at 5:05am on 28th May 2017 our Baby Girl was born. Our midwife, named Yap had made us so comfortable that it might sound strange but this birth was beautiful. Our baby was born in the delivery suite. Neighbouring rooms rang loud with cries of newborn babies. Our room was deafeningly silent. Yap had closed all blinds, told other staff to be quiet, she kicked everyone out and told me to take my time. This person who we had just met, did so much for us in this moment. She turned this moment from an extremely difficult time, into a positive memory. She is my midwife Angel for sure.
Over the next few hours we rested. My husband went home to shower, eat and rest. He had survived on cups of tea, two slices of toast and armchair sleep for the past 24 hours. He told me after that when he got home he cried. It all hit him in that moment. The house was quiet, I wasn’t there, there was no baby due anymore. Our partners are so strong for us through these times, our Rocks and need to show a brave face but they need help through this too. They get forgotten about so easily in this time.
When we were ready we met our baby. We held her. We spoke to her. Family got the chance to meet her if they so wished too.
I came home the next day and my husband and I chatted about what the bereavement team had said about naming our baby. At this time we didn’t know the sex of our baby but without even thinking we had both decided on the same name. A few weeks earlier we had been to a garden centre and bought a beautiful Rhododendron flower. Coming up to our 20 week scan it began to flower. Everything about this flower was breathtakingly beautiful. As I returned home I noticed the Rhododendron had already finished flowering. It stuck our minds. Our baby was like a Rhododendron. Our baby bloomed for such a short amount of time. Our baby was the most beautiful thing we have ever seen. Then our baby was gone. Just like this flower.
My husband and I decided to name our Baby Rhododendron. We found out later that she was a beautiful Baby Girl. This name suited her perfectly. Our Rhodi.
We brought Rhodi home. I remember collecting her. She was handed to me in a little white box with a gold plate with her name on it. On the drive home I spoke to her. I went the long way home and pointed out local places like the supermarket, the schools, the park. I don’t think you are thinking straight at this time. How could you be. This made sense to me to do in this moment and that’s what I did. I made the front room into a room for her wake. We filled it with flowers, lit candles, closed the curtains, sat beside her and I bawled. I cocooned myself in my favourite blanket and bawled.
We had a burial with immediate family, again with the guidance of the bereavement team as we didn’t know what to do. The priest who had married us a few months before was good enough to organise a small ceremony to honour Rhodi. We buried Baby Rhodi with my mum. I know my mum wouldn’t want this any other way and I know my mum will hold Rhodi close forever.
We remember Rhodi all the time. We planted a Climbing Rose in our garden that flowers on her due date and her birth date.
On 28th May 2018, one year after losing Rhodi, we woke to the first flower on her Rose! My husband and I took a moment to smell it and admire how beautiful it was while we had our breakfast. I had taken this day off work as per advice from the bereavement team as this day can be difficult.
We had been trying to get pregnant for a while so it had become a bit of a normality to do a pregnancy test. They were usually negative so I just did one not really getting too hopeful. Today it was positive! We both couldn’t believe it! We were overjoyed! The significance of this day in particular!! I could feel Rhodi had sent us this baby!
Rhodis little brother was born in January 2019!! And a second little brother was born in April 2021! They are incredible and our family is complete. They will know all about Rhodi in time as we talk about her in everything we do.
We are forever grateful to every single person who helped us and continues to help us in this journey. Our family and our friends. We will never forget your kindness. It was an incredible time of support for us which blew us away and helped us in a way you will never know.
One amazing person will always stick out in my mind from the days after loosing Rhodi. She called to our home and told me about her Pregnancy Losses which I never knew about. She told me that I am now a Starfish. She said when a Starfish looses a limb, they grow one back even stronger. We are Starfishes. Forever stronger.
I will forever fundraise for The Bereavement Team in The Rotunda Hospital and the amazing team in Feileacain too. I will always support anyone going through Pregnancy loss as best I can. Stronger together. Stronger through talking, uplifting each other, empowering.
Rhodi Bloom Self Care came from my experience of living with and healing from Pregnancy Loss. After loosing Rhodi, I had no idea how to carry on. How to find myself again. How to verbalise or understand what just happened. On my time off work to recover, I found a present my husband had bought me weeks earlier. Is was a ‘Mum-To-Be gift set’. Initially I couldn’t look at it as it brought it all back but after a few days I took each item out of the gift set and used them. The baths salts gave me time to restore and wash away all of the stress and anxiety. The candle made me feel warmth and love. The hand cream made me take time to stop and breathe in the beautiful scent. Along with other items, these small self care rituals brought me back my smile, allowed me to love myself again and gave me inner strength and confidence to keep going. I want this for others. I want these to bring self love and strength.
I have always had a love of yoga and after loosing Rhodi I qualified as a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher. I see this as a way to celebrate the miracle of birth but also help women through their pregnancies. Pregnancy is beautiful but can also have some stressful times. I love to focus on strong mental strength as well as physical power too. I have recently added to this qualification as a Post natal yoga teacher to help mothers postpartum, to regain their mental & physical strength too. Again in a beautiful life stage. I hope to continue to add to these qualifications including a Grief & Bereavement Counselling qualification in 2023.
I use yoga, breathing, meditation and all of these items from the self care boxes regularly, as there are always hard days that can catch you unawares, when you just need to stop, put yourself first and breathe. I want others to feel supported, uplifted, loved and empowered too and that is why I created Rhodi Bloom.
For Rhodi. X