A Challenging Year

The first challenge was getting pregnant in the first place. Two years, many fertility investigations and a round of Clomid later, those longed-for two little lines finally appeared on the stick.

The next challenge was making sure the baby stayed. Scans at seven, 12 and 20 weeks revealed a healthy foetus with a strongly-beating heart. We felt so blessed and were so excited.

Hugo's 12 week scan

Hugo’s 12 week scan

Being diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia at just 24 weeks was very challenging emotionally. Not knowing whether my baby would be born alive. The guilt of feeling that my baby had to be born much earlier than he should have been to prevent my organs failing and him dying in my womb.

Parenting a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit is very challenging. So many highs and so many lows. Exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure. It can feel challenging to stay positive, challenging to cling on to every scrap of hope that you will be able to take your precious baby home, challenging to put a smile on your face every time you walk in to your baby’s nursery.

Hugo was worth every moment of it, though. Such a precious baby. So wanted, so loved. So, so missed.



Discussing the withdrawal of Hugo’s treatment when there was no longer any hope for him is the worst kind of challenging conversation any parent can imagine.

After his death, leaving Hugo behind in the hospital when I had to return home, two hours away was a challenge that broke my heart.

Planning Hugo’s funeral, trying to hold it together during the service. Watching his tiny little coffin being lowered in to the ground.

Much of the last few months has been challenging, dealing with grief. Coming to terms with the illness that caused it all. Living without my precious baby boy.

Trying to not sink into self-pity and ‘why me?’. Trying to find a reason to get up in the morning. Trying to give a purpose to my life, life that my precious baby was denied.

I have set up Hugo’s legacy, Bright in Mind and Spirit to give me that purpose. To help others in Hugo’s memory.

Challenging the authorities to improve care for sick new mothers with a sick baby. Challenging the authorities to improve bereavement care and information. Challenging the authorities to improve access to perinatal mental health services.

I have been challenging conventions about baby loss. Talking about it openly, helping bring this often taboo subject out in to the open.

Challenging conventions about dealing with grief and bereavement. Helping people understand how to start a conversation about baby loss, to understand what (and what not) to say to a bereaved parent.

Challenging those who appear to take their precious children for granted. Those who freely gripe about their children’s behaviour by being melodramatic, or using misguided humour in the very open, public arena of social media.

I wish these parents a long and happy life of being blissfully ignorant of the other side of the coin. I would not wish this pain on anyone.

They say that challenges can make you stronger. I’ve certainly become a lot stronger as a result of this challenging year.

However, it is a strength I would much rather be oblivious to – or at least, not have discovered it at this cost.

There is nothing I would not give to have Hugo back in my arms again.

Me and Hugo

Me and Hugo




0 comment on A Challenging Year

  1. deskmonkeymummy
    August 13, 2014 at 10:10 pm (7 years ago)

    So much emotion! This is a beautiful legacy for him. Baby loss is something people are scared to discuss for fear of saying the wrong things – I know that’s what holds me back. The pain from reading about your journey is pretty intense, even on this side of the fence with no frame of reference.
    We already discussed the element of taking children for granted on social media – something I know I have been guilty of doing prior to being fully aware of the audience and even after. I think people find it hard to find the right words to express their frustrations and it comes out as a splatter of whatever on Twitter.
    Your posts always make my heart ache. Such beautiful photos of your precious time together. Keep going, Mama, you’re doing a great job xx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 14, 2014 at 8:44 am (7 years ago)

      I know all too well that people are scared of saying the wrong thing about baby loss, it can create a lot of awkwardness and a sense of isolation for the bereaved. I hope through my posts I can show people it is ok to talk about it, and the better ways of doing it.
      I totally get that people have a bit of a vomit, so to speak, over social media when they have a bit of a vent – I get it, and try to make most of it wash over me. Life’s too short to get my knickers in a twist over everything. That paragraph was mainly in reference to that blog post that used unnecessary unkind language to describe children.
      Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to comment xxx

  2. Mrs H
    August 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm (7 years ago)

    This is such an amazing post. You write beautifully. I know that Hugo is looking down and smiling in pride on his mummy. You are doing an amazing thing challenging society as you are. Keep being brave and courageous. You are changing lives. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you so much. I’m so proud of Hugo, it’s all for him xxx

  3. Sara (@mumturnedmom)
    August 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm (7 years ago)

    Firstly, I cannot begin to imagine what you have gone through, and I am thankful for that every day, even on the bad ones. I am so very sorry for your loss (although I remember reading that ‘loss’ isn’t really the right word to use, Hugo was taken from you). Secondly, I am truly inspired by the way you have chosen to move forward and help others. I occasionally write about the bad days, as you have seen from my post, but I personally cannot do that without balancing it with positives. And, I’m always mindful that one day my kids will read what I’ve written about them. Life with kids is very tough at times, but it is also a blessing. Thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt and huge apologies for taking so long to comment, it’s been a very busy couple of days!

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate it. And thank you for hosting such a good linky, I enjoy doing The Prompt xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 9, 2014 at 9:14 am (7 years ago)

      Your post isn’t silly at all. It’s all relative. What I said about not wishing this on anyone else is genuine – I’m glad many people don’t understand what it’s like, because it means they haven’t experienced it. Thank you for taking the time to comment xxx

  4. Californian Mum (@CalifornianMum)
    August 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm (7 years ago)

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose one’s child. But inspiring that you started a trust in his memory. xx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 9, 2014 at 9:12 am (7 years ago)

      Thank you for your kind words xxx

  5. maddy@writingbubble
    August 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm (7 years ago)

    It sounds like you’ve faced more challenges in the last few years than many of us encounter in a life time. Well done for channeling your grief into helping others. Hugo’s legacy will be immense xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm (7 years ago)

      It does feel that way sometimes. Thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to read it. xxx

  6. mummyshambles
    August 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm (7 years ago)

    Such a sad post to read. I can only imagine your loss…
    The fact that you are working through your personal tragedy to try and improve things for others is really admirable. Hugo will never be forgotten.
    “Challenging those who appear to take their precious children for granted. Those who freely gripe about their children’s behaviour by being melodramatic, or using misguided humour in the very open, public arena of social media.”
    I’ve no doubt that some parents are deserving of this and I can see how your situation would make you feel like this. However, I use humour to cope with the challenges of my son’s autism. I don’t apologise for it because it’s my coping mechanism. When your child is kicking you, screaming and spitting into your face – you need to be able to let off steam somehow.

    That is a beautiful photograph of you and your son. X

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Absolutely, there’s no reason for you to apologise for using humour to deal with the challenges of your son’s autism. You’ve every right to use that as your coping mechanism. The misguided humour is in reference to a particular blog post that I read recently that used unkind language that was unnecessary – in my view. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment xx

  7. jasmineshei
    August 8, 2014 at 5:32 am (7 years ago)

    from challenging moments in life to challenging others for better understanding and care. It is such a great post! Thank you so much for writing this! I am definitely on the challenging part of my life, infertility for three years and infant loss a year ago. Life could not be harder than this.

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 8, 2014 at 8:31 am (7 years ago)

      Thank you. I wouldn’t wish these challenges on anyone. xxx

  8. staceytangerineowlproject
    August 8, 2014 at 4:32 am (7 years ago)

    Leigh, you are so so right. No truer words spoken, but you are doing something working through this experience to help others…. and because of that Hugo will be known to everyone you come in contact with. What a beautiful thing this blessed little boy has begun in your lives… *hugs*.

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 8, 2014 at 8:33 am (7 years ago)

      I so wish no one had heard of Hugo or me, and we were living a non-descript normal family life. I’m dealing with the card we’ve been dealt…and trying to make sure Hugo’s life isn’t in vain, through helping others in his name xxx

  9. meghanoc
    August 8, 2014 at 1:50 am (7 years ago)

    “it is a strength I would much rather be oblivious to – or at least, not have discovered it at this cost.” sigh. yes.

  10. Notmyyearoff
    August 7, 2014 at 12:56 pm (7 years ago)

    I’m so sorry you lost Hugo, but happy for you that you had those precious moments to remember for a lifetime xx

    • Leigh Kendall
      August 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you. The memories are bittersweet. xxx


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *

CommentLuv badge