Trigger Warning! Get your tissues out! No way around it sorry!
If you are here, you have most likely experienced a very tough time. I am sorry for this utterly rubbish time in your life. If you are a mum, dad, brother, sister, friend, work colleague of someone who is going through this then thank you for making the effort to understand more. Nobody knows the right thing to say so do not worry.
This is my story, I am sharing this to raise awareness, reach out to others in a similar situation and I hope by doing this I might uplift someone and empower someone to look forward to the better times that are coming.
This project is named after our Baby Girl Rhododendron. She is my inspiration to smile every day, to be grateful for all of the good things in my life and to keep her memory alive as best I can.
A little about Rhodi. My husband and I were married in the summer of 2016. The following January I found out I was pregnant! We had not been trying very long and so to see the word ‘Pregnant’ on the test was a real mind blower! We were delighted! We knew it was early days and as I am the youngest of three and have six nieces and nephews, I was aware that you don’t tell anyone till after 12 weeks. Apart from feeling exhausted and nauseous, everything was going great with the pregnancy and I was told the sicker you are the better (Maybe that’s an old wives tale but who knows, made me feel good at the time). The weeks progressed, I passed 12 weeks, so we began to tell more people and slowly word spread around my job and I received lots of congratulations. We did not mind who knew. We were excited and looking forward to our 20-week scan, the big one! From speaking to friends, this is usually the one you wait till to buy the buggy / cot etc after, so I was excited to do that. During our 20 weeks scan, we had to go over to the main building of the hospital as their scanning equipment was better. As I was being scanned, my husband held my hand as always, just something we do, and we saw Rhodi on the screen and her little heart flutter like a beautiful butterfly. The scan continued and after a while of clicking here and clicking there while scanning, the sonographer said she just needed to get her colleague to have a look and she would be back in a minute. Our hand hold became a lot tighter now. Why is she getting someone else? What’s wrong? We weren’t told. The sonographer returned with another woman. They began to talk between themselves. She then told me to lie on my left side, then my right side and then back on my back. Finally, they started to explain. They told us Rhodi had what looked like a small deformity with a valve in her heart and she was measuring small. It was more than likely something that will mend itself with growth and disappear before birth, but they would like to scan me again in two weeks’ time. At the next scan they mentioned they might need to do an Amniocentesis (taking a sample of the amniotic fluid through the abdomen). I really hoped we wouldn’t need to do this. They organised for me to have some extra blood tests done before I left that day and If anything came up, they would be in touch.
That’s not too bad! I thought they were going to say much worse! We left the hospital shook but still full of hope and love for our baby. They gave me a note for one week off work, so I rested for the week. Eating all good healthy foods to give Rhodi a growth boost and help her heart too.
We returned two weeks later for our follow up scan, now 22 weeks pregnant. Waiting in the waiting room of the Ultrasound Department, I saw the woman who had been called into our last scan. She called my name and both my husband and I entered the room. I lay on the table with my husband by my side, hand in hand as usual. The hold a little tighter again today. The woman scanned me. I remember looking at the ceiling waiting to hear the words “well done she is doing brilliantly now!” But unfortunately, I will never forget the following words I heard that day…
“There is no heartbeat’.
I felt my face go into pins and needles, everything around me disappeared from sight. I could hear myself repeating What? How? Why? When? I could see my husband’s face in his hands. Everything in our entire world had just changed.
The following days were a blur. I was sent home, to be readmitted in two days’ time to deliver her. I was admitted and induced. Rhodi arrived after a 15-hour natural labour, in a deafeningly silent delivery suite. Just myself, my husband and one midwife. An amazing midwife who I will always look back so fondly of.
The bereavement staff helped us through everything. We weren’t sure if we wanted to see/hold her but after some thought we decided to. I was scared, I didn’t know what she might look like, but this turned out to be the best decision of our lives. She was perfect. A little 220gram angel.
We had a family wedding the following week. I was Bridesmaid and my husband was Bestman. For everyone’s sake we continued as normal and we decided to wait to bury Rhodi until after this wedding. I don’t think our heads could have handled it all that week. I am proud to say that I walked up the isle as a bridesmaid, knowing every single person in that church knew my story and what I had just been through. I kept my chin up and ensured the bride and groom had the best day of their lives and that was the priority that day. Getting my hair and makeup done while sipping bubbly was a very odd but much needed experience that week to be honest.
A few days later we buried Rhodi. We decided to bury her with my mum, who had died in 2005. I thought this fitting that we were almost giving Rhodi to my mum to look after her for us. We had our immediate family there. The priest that had married us the year before, performed the burial for us, which was again a weird feeling but utterly amazing, as he is one in a million. My nieces and nephews let some pink helium balloons go high in the sky in Rhodi’s honour.
The days and months following this was filled with ups and downs. I took a little time off work but eventually had to get back to normality. Going back to work was tough, wondering when the next person was going to give me their condolences and how long could hold back the tears. I would congratulate myself in the bathroom if I made it to tea break without crying! “Whuuhuu girl you got this!” I would say to myself. I preferred when people acted like they didn’t know; it was easier while in work.
I longed for Rhodi. I felt my body ached for her. The bereavement team had told us to expect to find the next few months difficult, such as her due date or Christmas. You can’t help but think, she should have been here now, or this would have been her first Christmas. We made a special effort to mark these days and we planted a beautiful climbing rose in our garden that blooms around her special dates. We wanted a baby, so we began trying to conceive again that summer. I faked happiness so many times for friends announcing their pregnancies throughout that year. It hurt so much that it wasn’t us announcing it. Looking back, I don’t think my mind or body was ready and each month ended with no pregnancy. It was so frustrating. I was doing everything the books and apps were telling me, eating right, exercising, trying to concieve when the ovulation stick said SMILEY FACE! but nothing. It turned out that by nearly a year of trying we decided to book a holiday and forget about it all! Maybe Rhodi was our one chance at a baby, maybe it’s not destined for us. I am delighted to say that we got pregnant after this holiday. We just needed to chill. This pregnancy although filled with a lot of anxiety was also filled with joy and delivered us our gorgeous baby boy!
As he was delivered by emergency C-Section (a story for another day!), the surgeon told us It’s a Boy! My husband and I were in uncontrollable tears. I remember thinking to myself ‘We finally got one! We have an actual bouncing baby boy!’. Our baby boy cried immediately after birth and I could hear him as he was taken to be examined, which was great piece of mind as I knew he was well. He is a toddler now and brings us joy every single day.
From this point on I believed the worst was over. Unfortunately, as we began to try to conceive again I experienced another miscarriage at 13 weeks pregnancy. This pregnancy was during Lockdown 2020 and so under safety guidelines you must attend all scans on your own (Without your partner). No hand being held this time. I had been scanned twice already (7 weeks and 9 weeks) and I had opted to go for The Panorama Blood Test which came back with great results. I was feeling happy with how it was going. Nothing to worry about I thought. At the chat before my 13 weeks scan, the consultant asked me how I was feeling. I told him that I don’t remember ever feeling this anxious on my last pregnancy. Maybe I already knew somehow. He scanned my belly and once again, those heart crushing words. ‘Im so sorry Mary-Rose, there is no heartbeat’. I covered my face, I wanted to rip my stupid face mask off but didn’t. I could hear myself say ‘No, please, no, no, no’, I didn’t want to feel this pain of loss again. Please no.
I made it to the car after this appointment, I took some time here. It’s really not easy being on your own at these times. I got myself together and drove home. I remember coming home after delivering Rhodi, entering a quiet empty house, it felt awful. Today was different though. I walked through the front door and heard “Mama Mama!” What a difference. I ran to him, the fact I had mascara all down my face made no difference to him and we began to play with his toys together with Dada. I knew then that for my little boy’s sake I needed to take care of my mental health now, get physically strong again and deal with these experiences in a positive way. This moment was also the beginning of Rhodi Bloom.
As Rhodi was born at 22 weeks, she was not eligible for a birth or death certificate under Irish Law (Babies must be at least 24 weeks gestation or 500grams in Bodyweight). Maternity and Paternity leave before 24 weeks is also a grey area and usually up to the descretion of your employer. I hope in the future this changes. In my opinion I hope there is an option to record pregnancy losses on a Census so generations can find details of family that have experienced pregnancy loss. A record that they existed. So they can be noted on a family tree.
In the weeks / months / years since we lost Rhodi, I have experienced all kinds of comments and had the most varied conversations with random people on the subject. The good, the bad and the ugly. I just want to speak here about my experiences to first and foremost empower and help others in a similar situation. You are not alone. I want to help people understand who have never been through it and help them to help others too. Unfortunately, pregnancy loss is more common than most people realise.
So here we are! Three pregnancies, one baby! Not too bad! I know of a lot of people worse off than me for sure. We are happy and healthy and grateful for all the good times!
Thank you for reading our story and learning who Rhodi was and where Rhodi Bloom has come from. Please visit our Donate page or treat yourself or a loved one to a Rhodi Bloom Box.
Mary-Rose x x x
‘Who is Mary-Rose? I am the Founder of Rhodi Bloom and these days I am also a mum of a toddler while studying to become a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher and Infant Massage Instructor. Oh and trying to keep us all safe from COVID too. Oh and launching Rhodi Bloom too!
My background is Veterinary, but I knew once I met Rhodi that I wanted to change paths. As I said above, I am studying to become a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher currently. I hope to add to this to a qualification in Pregnancy Loss (Which I need to find first!) as I would hope that when I am teaching pregnancy yoga I could engage with anyone who has experienced a loss or is experiencing a loss and help them. I am also newly qualified as a Baby Massage Instructor and I host courses teaching parents how to massage their baby for bonding and interaction, amongst tonnes of other benefits. This is the happy side of my job! I would also love in the future to train as a Post Natal and a Kids Yoga Teacher. I see myself as eventually having a hub for before, during and after baby and beyond! Someday I’ll get there!