A Hugo-shaped hole – and hope

Before Hugo, I would jump at the chance for a cuddle with a baby.

Since Hugo, I have actively avoided babies. Out and about, I avert my eyes; at the sound of a crying baby I leave wherever I am; and I try to not look at photos of other people’s babies.

It is too painful, too raw. Too much of a reminder of what I have lost.

This week, Martin and I met with a dear friend. My friend and I had been pregnant together, and her estimated due date was just two weeks before mine.

Of course, nothing worked out as planned for me.

I had not seen my friend since before Hugo was born, when she visited me in hospital the day after I was admitted. Since then, she had moved away and we had not seen each other during that time.

As we were on holiday near where she had moved to, we made plans to meet up. My friend was incredibly sensitive and asked if she should arrange for her partner to look after their baby while we met, but as Martin really wanted a cuddle we asked her to bring the baby along.

I felt rather panicky at the thought of seeing the baby.

When we arrived at the café, I was incredibly nervous – not at seeing my friend, but at meeting her baby. I didn’t know how I would react, or how I would cope. We greeted each other with teary hugs – me with my back to the pram. I could not bear to look at her baby.

The baby started to grizzle, so my friend got him out to comfort him. Martin got the baby interested in his little toy bunny to help stop him grizzling, and asked for a cuddle. Martin looked so comfortable, and my heart simultaneously broke and melted at the look of sheer joy on his face.

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Every day, there is a Hugo-shaped hole in my chest, my arms feel empty, and the sense that something is missing is intense. So often I have a visceral desire to be with Hugo, to have him in my arms again.

At five months, my friend’s baby is at one of those lovely stages where he is taking an interest in the world, everything is new and fascinating, and everything should be explored. I was so looking forward to experiencing that stage with Hugo.

Seeing Martin with the baby, I couldn’t help but imagine that he was Hugo. I surprised myself with an overwhelming urge to hold the baby.

I needed to feel that baby in my arms.

The baby was passed to me. I could feel my heart racing, threatening to beat out of my chest, but I felt a wave of tranquillity too.

He settled in the crook of my arm. He had been grizzling before, but quickly calmed.

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Tears flowed when the baby gripped my finger. All babies like to grip fingers of course, but as Hugo also gripped my finger on the night we met after he was born – it was our first touch – it was incredibly poignant.

The baby looked up at me with his beautiful clear blue eyes as I cried. For a few moments, that Hugo-shaped hole felt filled as I projected how Hugo would have looked, and how it would have felt to have held Hugo if everything had gone how it should have gone. The sobs came and I blew my nose one-handed, reluctant to relinquish the wonderful feeling of having my arms cuddle a baby.

Hugo and my friend’s baby should have been friends. They should have grown up together. They should have played while their mummies sat and chatted.

That cuddle gave Martin and I an insight in to how it should have been. We keep looking at the photos we took. We both have beaming smiles in those photos. We think of the photos we should have with Hugo, proud parents watching our baby grow up.

Nothing is as it should be.

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Cuddling the baby is something I could not imagine doing a couple of months ago. It helped that the baby belonged to one of my closest friends and it felt safe: I knew that if I felt I could not cope after even a couple of seconds of cuddling the baby, I could hand him straight back with no problem. I could run out and she would not be offended (while I had envisioned doing that, I didn’t). I was free to cry, to express my emotions, to be myself.

After our meeting, I felt emotionally drained. Such a simple thing – cuddling a baby – but such a huge and vital step for me.

In amongst the emotional exhaustion, the cuddle enabled me to feel hopeful about the future.

Hope is a wonderful gift.

The four of us

The four of us

0 comment on A Hugo-shaped hole – and hope

  1. Mummy Tries
    November 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm (3 years ago)

    It’s amazing that you’ve walked away feeling hopeful. Love that selfie xxx

    Reply
  2. roseypnd
    November 2, 2014 at 8:18 am (3 years ago)

    Oh Leigh this brought tears to my eyes. You’re incredible. Sending so much love xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      November 2, 2014 at 10:07 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much, lovely lady xxx

      Reply
  3. conceptionallychallenged
    October 31, 2014 at 6:24 am (3 years ago)

    You are so brave. I’m glad the experience was a positive one, and that you felt safe in the interaction between your friend and her baby and the two of you.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm (3 years ago)

      It’s mainly thanks to my friend for making it feel really safe, with no pressure – and raging maternal hormones probably – rather than bravery – thank you for your kind comment xxx

      Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm (3 years ago)

      It really is, thank you xxx

      Reply
  4. Courtney
    October 30, 2014 at 9:55 pm (3 years ago)

    This brought tears to my eyes, I’m so sorry for what you have had to go through, and are going through. Sounds like this was a very big moment for you, I hope you continue to heal! Hugs.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind comment xxx

      Reply
  5. Hannah Budding Smiles
    October 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm (3 years ago)

    Really beautiful photos and clearly such a bittersweet moment to say the least. You took a huge step that day and it’s another example of how strong you and Martin are xx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you Hannah, that’s really kind xxx

      Reply
  6. cookie1986
    October 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm (3 years ago)

    A beautiful post. So deeply sorry for your loss, and hope that you find more times where the hole doesn’t feel so deep.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your kind words xxx

      Reply
  7. babylossmama
    October 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m so happy you were able to cuddle this baby while with a loving friend who understood! I’ve been afraid of the sobs and having them alienate me from the baby’s mum.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm (3 years ago)

      Bless you. I understand your reticence. Hopefully a good friend will understand, and give you space and time to do whatever you need to do. There’s no rush to do it though xxx

      Reply
  8. carla
    October 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm (3 years ago)

    That’s a massive step for both you and Martin, huge. Your friend sounds fantastic for being so sensitive to how the two of you might feel before and during your catch up. I love the picture of the four of you. Xxxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      October 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much. I’m fortunate to have such good friends xxx

      Reply

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on A Hugo-shaped hole – and hope

  1. […] may remember that last autumn I cuddled the first baby since Hugo, which was a hugely emotional experience. The past few months have been a rough road. When I met up […]

  2. […] may remember that last autumn I cuddled the first baby since Hugo, which was a hugely emotional experience. The past few months have been a rough road. When I met up […]

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