This sweet Momma holds a very special place in our hearts. Her husband Pat, is a Nest on Main alumni. I never got the opportunity to meet Elisha when her husband worked for The Nest, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know her through email and her story and she is, like her husband, an amazing person! My heart broke when I found out that they had lost their beautiful daughter Kennedy. It always hurts my heart when I hear of someones loss, but when it’s a friend it’s a different hurt. It gets personal. We are so honored to share their story with you, we hope it touches your heart.
Name – Elisha Rhoades
Angel baby name – Kennedy Rhoades
Type of loss – Still born, 29 weeks and 1 day
Home state – Utah
Best advice you’ve received – Never apologize for crying
Favorite place you’ve ever visited – Logan, Utah. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s comforting and holds a special place in my heart.
Biggest accomplishment – The relationship I have with my husband. He is my biggest supporter, and instead of letting our heartache make us grow apart, we have grown stronger. I was told once that the love and relationship that my husband and I have is something many couples with years of marriage under their belt strive for.
Ways you honor your angel – I wear a bracelet with her hand print and birth stone everyday, along with having several pictures of her around my home.
Describe yourself in 4 words – Thoughtful, sensitive, sassy and sarcastic
What food you’ve never tried and why – Escargot – I lived in an apartment complex where 100’s of them would show up around the outside walkways after it had rained, I stepped on so many on accident and it always creeped me out hearing that sound of them being smashed. I can’t imagine eating them!
What inspires you – My little nephew, Dempsey is incredibly special to me. Dempsey was born with a Critical Congenital Heart Defect, resulting in several open heart surgeries, the first one taking place while he was only 4 months old. With Dempsey’s diagnosis his parents were told that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy, and that he would be limited in his physical activity. While Dempsey has his lion’s share of trials, nothing slows him down. He is the most energetic, crazy, little kid I know and I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. He knows how mischievous he is, but he’s so dang cute it’s hard to get mad at him. While he is so young, he has shown to me over and over that despite your limitations, you can have an incredible, fulfilling life!
My husband and I had been trying for close to a year to get pregnant. On Memorial Day weekend in 2015 I took a pregnancy test, and to my surprise it was positive! The wait to get to this point had felt like so long, but it all seemed worth it seeing that positive test. 9 weeks later I had a full miscarriage. We were heartbroken, but our desire to grow our family grew even greater. Only two months later I took another pregnancy test and saw that positive pink plus sign. I was in disbelief by how quickly it had happened! We passed the 9 week mark with much anticipation, and everything seemed to be in our perfect favor moving forward.
At 15 weeks we decided to do an early gender reveal ultrasound. She was so stinking stubborn! It took us close to an hour and a half to get a good angle of her, and the technician kept saying we may have to reschedule for a few weeks out. At this time it was only a week away from Christmas, and the sex of our baby was a major part of my Christmas day announcement to friends and family (nobody knew we were doing an early gender ultrasound). The technician was finally able to get her at a good position and we were told we were going to be parents to a little girl. I was thrilled! I know most parents say they don’t care the sex, as long as the child is healthy… And I truly would have loved her even if she was a boy, but I was really hoping for that girl result.
I’ve always known I wanted to name my baby Reagan, but the more I said “Reagan Rhoades” the more I didn’t love that double R wording. Kennedy had always been in the back of my mind and I just felt like she was a Kennedy. I brought it up to my husband and he had the most perfect face splitting smile. From then out out she was Kennedy. And side note… I did not choose these after the Presidents… I just love those names 🙂
The rest of my pregnancy went off with out any issues. My husband and I were given the opportunity to go on a Mexican Riviera cruise with my family, and it was the perfect “Baby Moon”. After our cruise I started planning baby showers with my friends and family. People in my ward started giving me their hand me downs, and I was constantly trying to build the perfect registry list. I chose a nursery theme of lavender and grey, and the only thing left to do was let Miss Kennedy grow and wait her arrival!
On March 16th, I went into my 3rd trimester. Almost immediately my feet had began to swell. It didn’t bother me too much, and asking around to several friends I was told the same thing over and over again “you’re in the 3rd trimester, swelling is going to happen”. Kennedy’s kicks were always constant and never dulled, so I never really worried. I had a doctors appointment that next week, I figured I’d bring it up then and see if there was any alarm. In the meantime, I did plenty of walking around to keep my blood circulated, and propped my feet up any time I was resting.
March 24th was a normal Thursday. I went to work with my 29th week doctors appointment to follow. My feet were still swollen, but my hands, face, and legs had remained their normal size. Kennedy’s kicks slowed a little, but I could feel flutters on and off – I still wasn’t worried. At my doctors appointment my initial blood pressure was extremely high. We’re talking 190/110. The nurse had me sit for about 45 minutes to “relax” and she’d let the doctor retake my BP. This was my first doctors appointment I went to alone. Usually my husband had assisted me, but we figured where this one would be a standard vitals and heartbeat check, I could manage alone and he could remain at work. I was freaking out because I had gained 14 pounds within a few weeks. I was texting my friend with the usual “oh my gosh, I’m a whale!” complaints. Now my husband, he’s a pretty big guy. Not to brag but he holds a few California weight lifting records. So my friend reassured me that my baby having my husbands genes was most likely not going to be on the small side. She was able to calm my nerves for a quick second until the doctor came in. I let him know about my swelling, and about how the kicks have died down, but I still felt movements. He retook my blood pressure and it was still dangerously high. He told me he was worried I developed preeclampsia, and we might have to schedule an emergency c-section depending on the stress the baby was in.
At this time all I could think was “but I’m only 7 months along, I have nothing ready… This happens to other people, not me” He had me get on the table to listen to the heart beat. This is when I realized this was serious. It wasn’t an automatic find like it had been the previous appointments. I studied his face and he gave nothing away. Finally he said “I hear something, but I can’t tell if it’s yours, or hers”. We went into an ultrasound room so he could get a visual of her. He looked around for a minute, and then just got up and left. He didn’t say anything, He. Just. Left. What seemed like forever, he finally came in with another doctor. “Elisha, we have reason to believe you have developed preeclampsia, you’re extremely sick, and we need to have you deliver tonight. We cannot find a heartbeat on your baby.” The second doctor took a look and confirmed that my Kennedy’s heart remained still.
“I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat”.
I went numb. I just remember saying, okay… okay… At this point the doctors were concerned about my body having a seizure or suffering a stroke. Looking back at it, it’s still so crazy to me. I felt absolutely fine leading up to this point. Nothing was out of the norm. I just had swollen feet. Kennedy was breech, meaning I wasn’t able to do a vaginal birth, they needed to do an emergency c-section. Luckily the hospital was just across the street from my doctors office. They gave me a moment to call my husband, but stressed that we needed to hurry and get me to the hospital. I called Patrick, I remember him answering and I was just so in shock. “Kennedy’s dead. She’s dead.” It’s all I could get out. I don’t even know if it registered with him, but he let me know he’d be right there. Also to our luck his work was just down the street from the doctors. He was there in literally 2 minutes.
In the meantime I tried calling my mom and she didn’t answer. I called my dad and that’s when the emotions of reality really hit me. I sobbed to him everything that happened, that I was alone and so scared. He told me comforting words and said he was going to track down my mom. I called my mother in law who lives in town with us, I tried spitting out the situation, and I don’t even know if she understood half of what I was saying. But again, to my luck, she was close by and was headed on her way to the doctors office. Patrick made his way into my room, and he just hugged me and we both cried and held onto each other. My mother in law came in and tried comforting us the best she could.
The doctor made her way back in saying over and over again how sick I was and that we NEEDED to get to the hospital. We drove over there and I got a call from my mom saying she booked the first flight out for the next morning (she lives in Utah, while I’m out in California). I sent a text to Brittany, the girl I was earlier joking about my weight with. Lightening fast after I sent the text she called me to see what she could do. After my family, Brittany was and is my rock. I hope she’s reading this because I’d be an ever hotter mess without her, and I just want her to know how much I stinking love her.
I got checked into Labor and Delivery and was escorted to my room. The nurse who assisted me, Lyndsey, was so sweet. She got me settled into my hospital gown and got all my IV’s going. While she was typing something onto her computer, she stopped and grabbed my hand and expressed how sorry she was, and that she wanted to me to know this wasn’t my fault. I’ll always remember her heartfelt condolence. They started me on magnesia to get my blood pressure lowered.
My anesthesiologist came in to talk about my different options for surgery. I pleaded with them to put me all the way under. I didn’t want to experience any part of the delivery. They were concerned with my high blood pressure and the amount of blood I could potentially lose during the operation… Realizing now, they were very concerned about me not waking up if being put all the way under. We agreed that I would be given a high dosage of Valium, so that I would still be awake, but too loopy to really know what was going on.
While we waited for the surgical team to get everything prepared, my in-laws, my boss and his wife, and Brittany all came to see us. It was a nice to have them there as a distraction from what was about to happen. My father in law gave me a beautiful blessing along with Patrick asking for peace for myself and Patrick, and assistance to the surgeons.
They finally came in to wheel me off. They gave Patrick his scrubs and his instructions for coming into the OR. They prepped me for my epidural, and I remember sitting hunched over the bed holding onto Lyndsey for support, and sobbing into her chest. After that they laid me down and started my drug IV. That’s all I remember…
At 8:02 pm on March 24th, 2016 my Kennedy’s body came to earth while her perfect spirit stayed in Heaven. I remember waking up in the recovery room with my husband to my side. One of the scrub nurses complimented my pink nail polish I had on. And Lyndsey started checking vitals. My body was so numb from all the medicine pumped into me. I was trying so hard to move my legs, but I couldn’t. I asked Patrick if he could just go and curl my toes in. I don’t know why, but that was something my body was craving to have done.
Once I returned to my room, my in laws and Brittany were still there. In all honesty I don’t know what was discussed at this point. I know that after my in laws left, Brittany suggested that whenever Patrick felt okay enough, he go home and get stuff for the hospital stay and get something to eat, and that she would stay with me till he got back. I was given an Ambien to help sleep. I stayed up and talked with Brittany until Patrick came back (I don’t know how I was able to fight off the effects of the medicine). She left, and it was just Patrick and I… And the constant beeping of machines and nurse check ins.
I told my nurses I didn’t want to see Kennedy. The next morning I was told a nurse made a keepsake book with some pictures of Kennedy. It was in a sealed envelope, and that I should open it at a time I found fitting. I had a plan to open it on her first birthday. I told my husband I wanted her cremated, he didn’t argue on the matter and agreed to that.
My mom arrived that day and she was a sight for sore eyes. Later that night my in laws came to visit and my husband and I, my mom, and my in laws took a walk around the hospital. We sat and talked out in an outside sitting area, and Patrick disappeared for awhile. I didn’t think much of it, maybe he was off to see a visitor that came, or just needed some alone time.
He came back to meet us with tear stained cheeks. He informed me that he went to see Kennedy. (Patrick’s note: This was the hardest question I’ve ever asked in my life! I had less tears and anxiety asking Elisha to marry me. I could barely get the question out to the nurses. Thankfully, they understood me and set up a room across from Elisha’s for me to see Kennedy.) My heart dropped for a quick minute. He assured me over and over that there was no pressure on me seeing her, but he couldn’t express enough how beautiful she was. After some time, I felt prompted to go see my baby.
The nurses arranged it for us to see her in a separate room from where I was staying. The nurse brought her in bundled up, and a huge weight was lifted as soon as she was placed in my arms. She was so tiny and delicate, but perfect in every single way. Her features were so defined and she had so much hair! She had my nose and my husbands lips. She had the longest fingers and toes. She was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. My husband and I held her together in that room. We cried, we talked to her, and cried some more. I am so grateful for my husband and taking that leap of seeing her. It is something I would have deeply regretted if I never saw her beauty first hand. After seeing her perfect little body I couldn’t stand to think of her being cremated. My mom came in and spent time with her body, marveling at her the entire time.
The next day it was arranged that all my in-laws come to the hospital to visit us and to see Kennedy. It was such a spiritual experience. All of my husband’s siblings and their spouses were able to be there, except for Nate and Taylor who were away at school. We cried together and we shared the deep love our family has developed for each other. We shared scriptures, we prayed, we became very united.
Leading up to their visit, all of them worked together on creating a burial blanket for Kennedy. That was and is so precious to me, to know that they came together for my husband and I. It was amazing to see her wrapped up in the pure white blanket.
My last day at the hospital was Easter Sunday. My nurse, Denise, shared with me that there is a lady who sews gowns for stillborn children out of donated wedding gowns. She asked if I would like to have Kennedy put in one of those gowns. I was overcome with gratitude for that woman. What a selfless gift she gave me. The gown was beautiful and so detailed. Attached to it was a little wing pendant. I was given a matching one to put on a bracelet of my own, so it was something I’d always have to share with Kennedy. My in-laws came for one last visit to see Kennedy in her Easter dress.
We arranged to have Kennedy buried in Richmond, Utah on top of my Grandpa Bunn. It was something we put a lot of thought into, and after many prayers and spiritual promptings, we agreed on that location.
After all the paperwork, I was given the okay to be released, but that I was free to take my time. After experiencing the heartache I went through in that hospital room, it was hard to leave it. It was hard knowing that I was going home without my baby. That I was on my way to my new normal where I had to accept the death of my baby. I prolonged leaving for as long as I could. I opened up Kennedy’s memory book where there were images of her foot and hand prints. Pictures of her wrapped up right after being delivered, and stats on her body weight, time of birth, etc.(She was 15 1/2 inches long, and 2.7 pounds) It’s something I’m always going to cherish. And I am so grateful for the nurse who created that for me.
We finally left the hospital, my mom, Patrick, and me. We headed home not knowing what the future held for us. My mom was kind enough and stayed with us for 10 days. We cried a lot together, but it was very cathartic. I will never be able to thank her enough for the help she gave us. From cooking meals, to making me go out and get sunshine. We had so much love sent our way from friends, family members, church congregation members… It was overwhelming in the best possible way. God has placed incredible people in my life and I am truly blessed. We went to Utah and held a burial service for Kennedy on April 16th, 2016. Her body was placed to rest in the most perfect location. We were surrounded my friends and family, and it made such a heartbreaking day more bearable. It was that day that I truly gained a testimony of the plan of salvation and eternal families. I watched my daughter be buried, something no parent should have to experience. But I knew this wasn’t the last of it. I knew (and know) I would be reunited with my angel, and we’ll have eternity to grow as a family.
My mother-in-law, Yvonne, and her daughters Ariana, Brenna, and Camille gifted a bracelet for me with Kennedy’s hand print and birthstone. A matching bracelet was created for Kennedy as well. Hers was placed on her left wrist to wear during this earthy period. I wear mine on my left wrist everyday and am always reminded she’s with me. My husband was gifted a ring with her hand print on it, so he’s able to hold her hand everyday.
My family and I have started Kennedy’s Angels Kits. A service project where we create stillborn bereavement kits consisting of a gown, bonnet/cap, diaper keepsakes, and a burial blanket donated to hospitals here in Modesto, CA and hospitals all along Utah. We created a gofundme for donations that would allow us to buy material for our project. This is a life long project for me. I hope that I am allowed to offer some peace to parents going through such heartache.
I share pictures of my “new normal” life. Mostly pictures of my dog, food, and Sodalicious