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Rhesus disease: How we lost our darling baby boy at 29 weeks pregnant

Rhesus disease: How we lost our darling baby boy at 29 weeks pregnant

Kate Smith wears 'R' on her Ivy & Gold bracelet to help her feel close to her son Remy, who was stillborn following complications in pregnancy caused by Rhesus disease.

Kate's journey was made even more traumatic by the pandemic, which meant she was alone when she heard the news that Remy had passed away.

"I found out I was pregnant with my third baby in May last year.

I have two other children Jackson who is 5 and Willow who is 3.

We found out very early on that our baby would be very poorly with Rhesus disease during the pregnancy and we knew that because both our other two children had had the same condition.

It is caused by an incompatibility between mine and my babies' blood groups.

My daughter, my second child, was very poorly with it, but it gets worse with each pregnancy.

We knew there was treatment that could be put in place in the form of in-utero blood transfusions, most likely in the final trimester.

We were scared, but we knew it would likely be enough to get baby to 34 weeks to be induced.

I went for weekly bloods and detailed scans to check the levels of the condition and the baby's wellbeing.

At the 20-week scan we found out that our third baby was a boy and we decided then that his name would be Remy - our Remy Roo.

Near Christmas it was decided that Remy would need to have the blood transfusion earlier than expected and so on the 23rd December I went into hospital to have the procedure.

Because of Covid I had to go for the transfusion alone.

My husband dropped me off in the morning and we said an anxious goodbye.

After a period of preparation on the ward I was sedated for the transfusion.

It went well and afterwards I had a few hours of recovery time and I was allowed to go home at around 4pm.

The next day was Christmas Eve and I started to feel Remy moving around again, recovering from the sedation.

We had Christmas and then a check up between Christmas and New Year when we were told that Remy would need a second transfusion.

On 6th January we repeated the process again.

My husband dropped me off that morning, I was sedated and taken down for the procedure alone.

I was 29 weeks pregnant and spent the time before the procedure searching online for baby clothes and comforters.

But this time when they took me up to recovery the student midwife came in to check Remy's heartbeat and then the horror started.

I was rushed to the delivery suite where the doctor said the words that would change our lives forever - "I'm so sorry, but your baby has no heartbeat."

My darling boy had passed away in the hours following the transfusion.

I remember thinking how I had seen him alive on the screen just a couple of hours earlier.

Unfortunately because my husband hadn't been allowed to stay with me, when he came to pick me up he had no idea what had happened.

A midwife met him at the door and he told me later that he knew then that something was wrong.

We were left alone then for a little while to work out what we needed to do and our specialist midwife told us our options in order to bring our baby boy into the world.

The next day we had a day at home, I was still pregnant, but now we were making arrangements to go back to the hospital for Remy to be born.

On 8th January I was induced at the Abbey Suite at the Birmingham Women's Hospital.

Remy was born AT 3:57am on 9th January. He was perfect.

It's one of those events that you just never imagine will happen.

We had some hours with him... and then we made the heartbreaking decision to leave with empty arms.

To be honest if it wasn't for my other two children, and if we didn't have to go home to them, I think I would still be there with him now.

The Woodcock family shortly after Remy's death

After that we had to go through arranging a funeral during a pandemic for our baby boy.

Because of restrictions it was only my husband and I who could go. We had no service, but spent the time talking to him, telling him how much he was loved.

Remy was cremated and his ashes stay with us at home.

My Ivy & Gold bracelet came into it because I was really conscious of the fact that we didn't have any clothes for him that I could keep.

His birth was so early and so sudden that we didn't have time to get anything that would fit him and so we chose to just have him wrapped in the little white blanket and hat that the hospital gave us and I didn't want to take those from him, I wanted him to have them.

They offer you all sorts of memory bears and things, but I didn't want anything like that because I would have just clung to it forever.

I wanted some way of keeping him close to me, as if I could take him with me wherever I went.

I started looking for something that I would love to wear and that I could have personalised.

I found your Instagram and decided just on his initial and a heart - that was enough for me.

Ivy and gold bracelet

It arrived on the day that we went back to the hospital for the specialist meeting into his death and in some way it gave me a little bit of strength.

I don't need reminding of him, I think about him all the time, but when I glance down it is comforting to see this little symbol of him with me always.

In March I decided to walk 100 miles for the hospital where he was born.

They are building a specific unit, called Woodland House, for parents whose babies have died because I had to have him on the same ward as other mums and could hear their babies crying. 

I would do anything to save another parent from that heartbreak.

We raised over £8000 and I had my bracelet on the entire walk.

Every time that it became difficult just to put one foot in front of the other I looked down and it just reminded me to keep going.

Kate Woodcock and with her son and daughter

It's also good for my other children because it gives them an opportunity to talk about him and use his name as well.

My Ivy & Gold bracelet is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night. It sounds strange, but it is as if I can take him with me wherever I go and that brings me great comfort.


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