After this pair met on reality show The Bachelorette, their romance quickly captured the hearts of a nation. And they’ve been an item ever since. But some tragic news subsequently put a stumbling block in the stars’ lives – and it’s left their legion of fans reeling, too.
Said famous couple are J.P. Rosenbaum and Ashley Hebert. And their lives took a devastating turn on what started off like any other day. When Rosenbaum woke up, his hands were apparently a little tight, but otherwise nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The former reality star went about his regular work in real estate and didn’t worry too much about anything. But by the time he’d returned home that evening, it was obvious that something was wrong.
An incident with Rosenbaum’s house keys convinced him that he faced a serious problem, he told People in December 2019. All of a sudden, he found himself relying on Hebert for far more than he ever had before. Suddenly, Rosenbaum’s life and wellbeing had been inexplicably turned upside down, and he began to wonder whether it would ever be the same again.
We’ll return to what exactly happened to Rosenbaum later, but first let’s explore his enduring relationship with Ashley Hebert. Their romance had begun on ABC’s The Bachelorette in 2011, when the latter had been the eponymous center of attention for a group of men – which included Rosenbaum – who vied for her love. She herself had been a contestant in The Bachelor, and viewers had liked her so much that she’d been invited back to star on the show.
Hebert hails from the Acadian town of Madawaska in Maine, where nearly everyone speaks French. She had a youthful love of dance at an early age. And it’s this, coupled with a strong academic ability, which helped her to win various scholarships and a spot as Maine’s entry to America’s Junior Miss. Indeed, Hebert’s enthusiasm and smarts marked her out as someone going places.
Hebert proceeded to go to the University of Maine, where she was very successful – graduating with a B.S. in biology with a dance minor. Not only did she skipper the dance team, but she also took out awards for scoring the top GPA in the subject for two years running.
During her studies, Hebert began a program of mentorship with a pediatric dentist called Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, who practiced in the Bangor, ME, area. This led her to a postgrad at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a doctorate in dental medicine. From there, it was a short step into residency in a children’s hospital and a career in pediatric dentistry.
For his part, Rosenbaum is a native of New York state and grew up on Long Island. From a very young age, he enjoyed sailing and fishing in the island’s waters. However, he headed inland for college – attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. And his four years in the Great Lake State ended with him graduating in communications in 1999.
On his return to Long Island, Rosenbaum started work selling commercial real estate. However, he was soon lured to the Big Apple, where he worked in internet ad sales for a while. After some traveling, he turned his hand back to real estate – gaining a qualification in construction management.
In 2011 Rosenbaum found himself trying to find love on The Bachelorette. He was just one of the 25 hopefuls trying to win Hebert’s heart. The contestant enjoyed a couple dates with her alone and a few more in a gaggle of men vying for her attention. Finally, he took Hebert to Roslyn, his hometown in New York. Then in a dramatic final episode he proposed, and she accepted.
The construction manager made his bid to Hebert with a moving speech. Rosenbaum said, “The hardest thing out of all of this has been not knowing. I’m an open book. All my cards are on the table. I know I told you my biggest fear was falling in love with you and having my heart broken again.”
Rosenbaum then capped off his speech with a passionate declaration of love for Hebert. He told her, “I know I have to take a leap of faith. All the time that we spent together, it’s been the happiest time of my life. You always say to me, ‘If I smile all the time, I’m going to have wrinkles.’ All I know is that I’m madly in love with you. I love everything about you.”
A year after his successful proposal, Rosenbaum then took Hebert down the aisle in Pasadena, California. Appropriately for a relationship that began on a reality show, the marriage appeared on TV. Viewers saw Hebert sport a gown made for her by Randi Rahm – trailing a train that tipped the scales at 40 pounds thanks to the beads sewn into it by hand.
And the pair weren’t the only stars from The Bachelorette at the wedding. Emily Maynard, Trista Sutter and Jillian Harris were just some of the guests who saw the reality celebrities trade pledges of lifelong love. Furthermore, plenty of other faces familiar from the franchise could be seen on the day.
Incredibly, even the officiant at the wedding had a Bachelor connection. It was host Chris Harrison, and he said some words about the pair before joining them. The ceremony involved a mix of traditions – with hands entwined in a Celtic knot and a glass smashed to cries of “mazel tov.” Rosenbaum, for his part, put their meeting down to destiny, saying, “Fate brought us together.”
The emotion on display at Hebert and Rosenbaum’s wedding was evident to all. And it seemed that it was all too much for the two who were getting married. A guest told Us Weekly magazine at the time, “They both got choked up.” And the sincerity of the pair impressed that observer, who continued, “The vows were very heartfelt. They’re a great couple.”
A couple of years after getting married, in September 2014, the couple said hello to their first child: Fordham Rhys. And although this milestone in his life wasn’t televised, Rosenbaum did share the news with fans on Twitter. But the bouncing boy wouldn’t be the last addition to their family, either.
A couple of years later Hebert then gave birth to a girl: Essex Reece. That was enough to prove a handful for the mom-of-two, who shared with Us Weekly how difficult having two kids was proving in 2018 – with the little ones aged three and one. She said, “[Parenthood] is honestly so hard.”
Hebert explained to the magazine, “When I first had my son I was that mom, [I thought] ‘I have to breastfeed, no formula, he has to be stimulated…’ His doctor said to me, ‘… Give in a little, you’re trying to kill yourself and in the end your kids are going to see that stress on you.’”
And the doctor’s counsel proved just right for Hebert. She said, “It’s the best thing I’ve heard parenting advice-wise. Just give a little, let yourself be human, let yourself have hard days and good days, let yourself be.” And it was clear that taking that to heart had helped, as Hebert posted on Instagram in 2019, “Happy is our family motto.”
Meanwhile, Rosenbaum and Hebert had moved to Miami, Florida, in 2014 and were enjoying their happy life there. The shift to the Sunshine State had been brought about because the former had been offered a post down south. He operates as vice president of development for the commercial real estate business Greystone & Co.
Down in Miami the couple have led a fairly normal married life, although they did appear in a 2017 iteration of the TV show Marriage Bootcamp: Reality Stars. And Hebert was thankful for her turn in reality TV. In May 2019 she wrote as a caption to a picture of her and other Bachelor franchise stars on Instagram, “One of the best things I’ve ever done was being a part of this family. It gave me my husband, my babies and the courage to be who I’ve always believed I could be.”
Furthermore, the marriage continued to be happy; so much so that in August 2018 the couple were willing to say “I do” all over again. Holidaying in Aruba, the two pledged to each other on the beach. Rosenbaum joked on Twitter about the occasion, saying, “Thanks to our vow renewal, we are good for at least another five years!”
However, a crisis occurred in 2019, and it came out of nowhere. As we explored earlier, Rosenbaum woke up one morning feeling that his hands were a little tight. However, he ignored it and started work as normal. Then he enjoyed a lunch with a friend, but as the day went on, things started to decline for the reality TV star.
As the afternoon wore on, Rosenbaum told People magazine, “I started noticing stiffness in my calves and ankles.” And this had an effect on his ability to get about. He added, “I wasn’t walking right.” Then when the construction manager had gone to fetch pizza for the kids’ dinner that evening, things had become serious.
By the time that Rosenbaum was picking up the pizzas he was struggling to grip the boxes. He told the publication, “I couldn’t hold the pizza box with one hand. When I got home, I dropped my keys, and when I went down to pick them up, I couldn’t get back up. I had to brace myself against the car to climb my way back up.”
But Rosenbaum wasn’t too frightened at that point; he figured that he could simply get some sleep, and the symptoms would probably pass. However, the next morning, he explained, “I got in the shower and I couldn’t manipulate the soap around my body. [Hebert] had to help me put on socks and underwear and I said, ‘I’m definitely going to the hospital.’”
So Rosenbaum did take a trip to the hospital, where he was subjected to a lumbar puncture – in which cerebrospinal fluid is tapped from the spine – and an MRI. These revealed that he had an illness known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. In this condition, a person’s own immune system mounts an attack on the nervous system – with a variety of outcomes from weak limbs to full-on paralysis.
Of course, it’s no wonder that Rosenbaum was taken by surprise by the condition. Guillain-Barré syndrome is rather uncommon, and it affects only around one in 100,000 people each year. He shared his feelings about his sickness in an Instagram Story, writing, “It’s very surreal and humbling. I just can’t really believe it.”
Guillain-Barré syndrome has different effects depending on the person. The first sign is usually a tingle in the hands or legs, which will become weakness that gets worse as time passes. Normally, the symptoms will get worse for a couple of weeks before reaching a plateau about four weeks in.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t until the day after that Rosenbaum realized what he might be up against. He told People, “I was definitely very scared.” But he soon found some comfort after taking a course of immunoglobulins, which are antibodies which help fight against those that had his system under attack. And thankfully, his symptoms quickly leveled off.
Rosenbaum was left thankful that he had not had the worst possible outcome from the condition. He told People, “I am lucky to be okay. That has not escaped me.” Because of the successful treatment, he was able to leave the hospital after a couple of days and start on the long road to recovery.
Although Rosenbaum’s symptoms had eased off, they hadn’t yet gone away. He added, “It’s the strangest sensation. Your mind thinks you can do something, but your body just won’t do it. When I walk, my calves feel very tight, and I have to be careful, because if I fall, I can’t brace myself. I can’t pick up a pencil or button a button or tie my shoes. The other day it took me over an hour to shower and 25 minutes to put on my shorts and underwear. Eye-opening is an understatement.”
Rosenbaum continued, “Things you do every day… picking up this phone, buttoning buttons, tying shoelaces, putting on deodorant… [you] just can’t do it. Picking up my kids? Can’t do it.” He added, “Wiping your ass? That may be T.M.I., but I might have [Hebert] assist on the next one.”
At the time that Rosenbaum talked to People in December 2019, he was facing physical therapy five times each week. This was aimed at getting him as strong as he’d previously been. However, the construction manager potentially faced a grueling task; recovery might be as short as a handful of weeks or as long as a full year.
As Rosenbaum noted, recovery would be an uphill struggle. He said, “I still can’t do all the things I once took for granted. It’s perspective altering.” But he wasn’t letting anger get the better of him; instead, he felt that he would emerge from the crisis as a much better person. He said, “This experience has changed me. And I know how fortunate I am.”
Rosenbaum acknowledged that he could have suffered a great deal more, and that he had been lucky to have found the problem at an early stage. He said, “I’ve heard from a lot of people and I know that things can get a lot, lot worse, and so – knock on wood – hopefully that is not the case for me.”
Getting through the trials of the syndrome had been made a lot easier by the support Rosenbaum had received. He said, “It’s super heartwarming,” before adding that it’s “not just friends and family but just total strangers who have offered to share their story… It’s just really nice, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
And Hebert wasn’t slow to share her own gratitude either, writing an Instagram Story to tell her followers that Rosenbaum was “doing well.” She posted, “It may be a long road to full recovery, but we are so grateful to everyone that has helped us get to a speedy diagnosis and treatment.”
Hebert added, “Thank you to everyone for prayers, helping with the kids and offering all your love and support. We are blessed to have amazing family and friends. Love you all and grateful to have so much good in our lives.” And she summed up what she took away from the experience in a sentence. The reality TV star wrote, “Cherish all that you have every single day.”