Poppy’s lasting legacy

14 October 2020

Poppy’s lasting legacy
As Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020 ends, we share the story of Carly and Roo Hodgson whose baby girl Poppy died this same week in 2017. Hear how the loss of their daughter led to the set-up of Poppy’s Fund, a fund supporting all maternity services across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Nothing can prepare a parent for the heart-breaking moment of losing a child. Sadly, that moment came for Carly and Roo Hodgson on 12 October 2017, when they were told their unborn daughter Poppy had died.

Read their story.

In October 2017, at the end of a normal, low-risk pregnancy, our much-loved and much-wanted baby died.  Our baby was generally active but one day, having been concerned about the baby’s lack of movement Carly arrived at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital for a check-up.  All appeared to be well, however, when we returned the next day, the midwives and doctors couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat.  

There is no possible way to describe the devastation, shock and panic that descends when you hear the words 'I'm so sorry, your baby has no heartbeat' and that day changed so much for us.

Throughout this painful experience, we were supported by the hospital’s fantastic maternity staff and allocated a bereavement midwife who answered our questions, talked us through everything in detail and helped us deal with many traumatic moments. We went on to spend a few nights in hospital whilst the consultants and midwives did all they could to help us deliver our baby naturally into the world.  She finally arrived on the 17th October. 

We didn’t know that we were having a baby girl until after she had died, and we decided to call her Poppy Beatrice Hodgson.

During our stay in hospital, we were given a bereavement suite which was funded by a wonderful mum who also lost her daughter. This dedicated room allowed us the space to be together and have our family visit us. It allowed us the space to start to grieve.  Meanwhile the staff cared for us medically and emotionally around the clock.  The compassion, care and expertise we were shown made all the difference during the most harrowing experience of our lives.

Whilst in hospital, we were introduced to Baby Loss Awareness Week, something we hadn’t come across before.  Looking online, it gave us a huge amount of comfort to know that on our behalf people were lighting candles, posting on social media and having tough conversations about life and loss.  We really felt like everyone was pulling together and supporting us from afar in every way they knew how.

Once Poppy had arrived, it was very important to us to say thank you to the amazing people who were there for us at such a difficult time in our lives. As everyone is now appreciating more than ever, the NHS is an incredible institution and the people who work there are unbelievable human beings.  During our stay at the hospital we saw how incredibly busy the staff in triage, labour wards and behind the scenes are but they always made time for us and they were always so kind.

Having spoken to a few key people at the hospital, who we had met along the way, we managed to pull together a committee of already very busy people to set up Poppy’s Fund, a charitable fund, raising money for maternity services at the hospital.  It was important to us that any money raised by the fund would help everyone to have a positive experience, not just people like us who have experienced trauma or loss.  We are so proud to say that having originally started as a fund for Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, Poppy’s Fund has subsequently been rolled out across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

When Poppy died, we experienced something we would never want anyone to experience and the heartache is still very present in our lives.  However, Poppy’s Fund is an amazing legacy for our beautiful baby girl and we have met some incredible people along the way who work tirelessly to bring babies home safely every single day.  We feel so lucky to have these people in our lives.  We are also overjoyed to let you know that in December 2019 our rainbow baby Maggie was born.  She is a true delight and we feel so lucky to have her.  We look forward to telling her all about the huge difference her sister has made and can’t wait for her to see for herself what a lasting impact Poppy’s short life has had. 

If you are at home as Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020 comes to a close this Friday, 15th, please do consider lighting a candle for all the babies lost, and tag us @PoppysFund on social media.  We would love to see your pictures. 

Poppy’s Fund raises money to support maternity services across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.  

To date the Fund has paid for specialist medical equipment on the wards and in the community, improvements to the maternity environment, creating warm and welcoming spaces for patients and visitors, as well as further training and education to help staff develop their skills.

Inspired by Carly and Roo’s story? Help us reach our £100,000 fundraising target by making a donation at www.imperialcharity.org.uk/poppysfund

Follow @PoppysFund on Instagram for fundraising and spending updates.