A Week Piled High With Achievement (and a Side of Disappointment)

While I have been actively trying to be positive lately, to keep the anger and dark feelings at bay, I am aware that my reserves of positivity are finite. It’s been a busy week, one full of achievements to acknowledge so I guess the low mood and tiredness I am experiencing today is only to be expected. Balance, and all that.

The positive thing is that I have been doing things to extend my horizons, to reintegrate myself in to ‘normal’ life, whatever that is!

In no particular order of importance or chronology…


You 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 with lovely Hannah (Budding Smiles) a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know how I would be with her son Toby. In the event, I didn’t have time to worry because he reached out his arms for a cuddle with me as soon as we met. Toby is a gorgeous baby, happy and great fun; we got on like a house on fire, which boosted my confidence about not having a meltdown around babies. It was wonderful to meet Hannah at last, and have a good natter. Hannah and I bonded immediately too.

Me, Toby, and Hannah

Me, Toby, and Hannah

Back to this week, my good friend, the mum of the baby I had the emotional cuddle with last autumn has now moved back to our town. Martin and I volunteered to look her son for a couple of hours so she could have a bit of relaxation time. It was a HUGE step for us.

The baby is now more of a little boy – he celebrated his first birthday last week. He is a very active, happy, chilled out little boy and a pleasure to look after. We went to the park – he’s almost walking unaided, but at the moment likes to hold a grown-up’s fingers for support. Pushing his pram felt very strange, yet lovely.

Playing in the park.

Playing in the park.

Giving me the runaround.

Giving me the runaround.

Martin and the baby enjoying reading a book.

Martin and the baby enjoying reading a book.


After his nap, we had a cuddle and read some books while he woke up. That was the point that really tugged at my emotions: I could hear my ‘reading voice’ and of course was instantly taken back to the many hours that were spent reading similar books to my Hugo.

We had a lovely afternoon, my friend enjoyed a bit of relaxation time, and I was really proud of myself.

Engaging in some self-compassion, I can acknowledge that is acceptable for me to feel sad that I should be caring for a toddler all day, every day. To feel sad that my friend’s little boy and Hugo should be getting up to all sorts of mischief together.

Returning to Work

Setting a date for returning to work was a huge achievement. I met with my lovely manager yesterday. She is so supportive and happy to accommodate whatever I need to feel as comfortable as ever will be possible.

The complication is I work in a hospital. It is a different hospital to where Hugo and I were cared for, but still any clinical environment provides the source of many of my triggers. Happily, I have been given some projects that I will enjoy, and that I will be able to mostly do from home.

I will be starting on a phased return, the week after next. I shall also be reducing my working hours on an ongoing basis to help gain a reasonable work/life balance, and enable me to have time and energy to further Hugo’s Legacy. I am also able to reflect that nothing, surely, can be as bad as what has already happened.

Maternity Experience (#MatExp)

I am privileged to be involved with the #MatExp campaign. A couple of weeks ago a couple of us were talking about next steps. Most of the #MatExp discussion has to date been on Twitter, which is brilliant because the platform removes hierarchies and enables open discussion and engagement. However, the downside is the character limit, and it moves so fast (there are about 600 #MatExp tweets a day; challenging to keep up with!).

I came up with the idea of a Facebook page for #MatExp, which has now become this group set up as a group effort. Within 24 hours we had more than 200 members. A week later we have more than 300 and an active community of women and professionals alike discussing experiences – and most importantly identifying actions.

Anyone with an interest in maternity experience is welcome to join.

Working with such an inspirational and positive group of people is very rewarding (if tiring!), and it has been a privilege to get to know Flo, Gill, Kath, Emma, Helen, and Susanne (and so many others!) through this work.


Image of MatExp workshop feedback

My Book

I’ve had a book idea in my head for a while, and this week finally completed a draft. As you may have guessed, the book is about Hugo. It needs lots more editing, but I am really proud of it so far. I am a step further towards achieving my dream of becoming a published author, and to help even more people in Hugo’s memory.

One of my favourite photos with me and Hugo.

One of my favourite photos with me and Hugo.

Photo Shoot

A bit of a frivolous one, but I have been kindly gifted a beautiful bag and dress recently. I took inspiration from the fashion session at the recent BlogCamp, and headed out to the street for the photos I need for the post I am writing about the items. Fortunately, Martin is a professional photographer (of dogs, usually!) so I have some excellent quality images for my post. Not feeling self-conscious for my shoot, and having the confidence to approach the brands were big achievements for me. You’ll see the posts soon, but a sneak peek is below.

Me with my beautiful gifted Radley handbag.

Me with my beautiful gifted Radley handbag.

Tots100 Ranking

When I started blogging about Hugo I had no idea about the parenting blogging community, or even that parenting blogging was a ‘thing’. Traffic and rankings are not the reason I blog, but they are important in the context of awareness-raising for Hugo’s Legacy. I hoped to one day break the Tots100 top 200, so sat in shock earlier this week when the latest rankings were released – I was number 92, out of about 8,000 blogs! The ranking was later revised to number 90. A huge thank you to everyone who reads my blog, and for supporting Hugo’s Legacy.

And the side plate of disappointment…

A few weeks ago I was honoured to hear I’d been included in the shortlist in the Inspire category of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. I had allowed myself to get caught up in the awards hubbub, and was disappointed and disheartened yesterday when I learned I had not reached the final.

I put my heart and soul in to this blog, into Hugo’s Legacy, and in to helping others in Hugo’s memory. It has been my purpose, my focus, my reason to get up in the morning.

At first, I took it a bit to heart. A bit like I was being told my work wasn’t good enough. That Hugo was not important enough to be acknowledged.

Rationally, I know that is all nonsense. There are plenty of fabulous, talented bloggers who were not included in the shortlist, or the finals (congratulations to all the finalists). Such is life, it is no reflection on our talent, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, or impact. And, of course, it is the least of the disappointments I have experienced!

I also had to acknowledge to myself that even if I had reached the final, even if I had won, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a winner.

I have this blog because I lost Hugo. There are no winners here, not even with a mantelpiece groaning under the weight of crystal.

As Hayley from Downs Side Up so wisely articulated, the impact a blog has on its audience, and even if it has touched even one person’s life it is a reward. She is so right: I have had plenty of affirmation that Hugo’s Legacy is worthwhile, and I don’t need awards to confirm that (nice as they are).

I know where my emotional energies are better invested.

My beautiful Hugo

My beautiful Hugo


Word of the week: Achievement

The Reading Residence
You Baby Me Mummy

27 Comments on A Week Piled High With Achievement (and a Side of Disappointment)

  1. hannah mum's days
    May 28, 2015 at 4:17 pm (5 years ago)

    Everything you do here is worthwhile and I’m so sorry you didn’t make the finals (I voted for you xx) but I think a few days to acknowledge feeling sad is totally Ok – I did it when I didn’t reach the shortlist but as you say so many amazing bloggers out there, so it’s a huge achieve that you reached that stage! You are changing lives and helping people who have also been through the worst experience. As for the rest of you’re post, gosh, so emotional, I feel for you so much. you are a brave lady xx I’m so glad you could have a day with lovely Hannah and her gorgeous little boy and I kind of love the fact you didn’t have chance to think about it before he wrapped his arms around you. It’s like he didn’t know what you’ve been through but knew you needed a cuddle 🙂 I’m sure I always say the wrong thing but I love this post and you and everything you are doing for Hugo’s legacy xxxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 29, 2015 at 8:28 am (5 years ago)

      Aw thank you for voting for me lovely Hannah, it means a lot. I was so sorry you weren’t shortlisted. As you say, it’s a competitive field out there! Oh I know little Toby was so gorgeous, you’re right he knew I needed a cuddle. It’s really been an emotional time! xxx

  2. Ginny Williams
    May 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm (5 years ago)

    Leigh, you’ve done so much–and I know you will continue to do so much, but I also feel your disappointment. Don’t take it to heart–you have so many important things to say–the world needs your voice. xx

  3. You Baby Me Mummy (@YouBabyMeMummy)
    May 25, 2015 at 7:34 pm (5 years ago)

    How you didn’t get to the finals I will never know. You are an inspiration for so many people. I am so happy for all your achievements, you deserve every single one and more! Thanks so much for linking up to #TheList xx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 26, 2015 at 8:18 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks lovely Aby. Such is life! xxx

  4. Tara
    May 24, 2015 at 1:10 pm (5 years ago)

    What a week! I think your headline describes it perfectly. I bet you need a bit of time to reflect now though? Lovely photos and you look amazing in the blue spotty dress (the bag is also awesome). Can’t wait to see the rest.

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Tara, a bit of reflection time was definitely necessary. I took a bit of time out yesterday. Thank you for the compliment about the blue spotty dress, and the bag is beautiful. The post will follow soon xx

  5. mr
    May 23, 2015 at 10:22 pm (5 years ago)

    This is beautiful Leigh. And you look gorgeous in all those photographs. After such a week, I am really not surprised you are feeling flat. Your courage to move on and be positive is inspirational. It must have been really hard for you to babysit your friends toddler but well done for doing it. And I can imagine you are feeling nervous about returning to work but you are taking amazing steps to going back. And we will all be here to support you. I am so proud to call you my friend. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:48 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you lovely Mrs H, you always say the most wonderful things. I am honoured that you are my friend. See you again soon xxx

  6. Mummy Writes
    May 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm (5 years ago)

    I had to read this twice today as I got choked up the first time. Your babysitting pictures just showed so much courage and love. You are both such lovely people and do so Hugo proud. You’ve had so much going on lately, but you seem good at looking after yourself too. I expect too that when things seem to be going well you feel a certain type of low. We can never be fully positive can we?! I agree with the others, your blog is amazing and your following shows that. Big hug x

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm (5 years ago)

      Bless you Kelly, thank you. I know what you mean about not being able ever to feel fully positive – always a sense of guilt there. Thank you for your kind support, it really does mean so much xxx

  7. thereadingresidence
    May 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm (5 years ago)

    You have achieved so much just in one week, amazing! So pleased for you that you were able to enjoy some baby/toddler time, though yes, your reserves of positivity will be finite so don’t be hard on yourself when it’s hurting. Sounds like your manager is great, so I do hope your phased return goes well for you. Well done on completing your book draft, you remarkable lady! That photo shoot looks fun and loving what you’re wearing and that bag, I will look out for the post. Brilliant news on your Tots ranking, I’m really delighted for you. As to the awards, please don’t let it get to you. As you say, that’s not what you blog for, and it was fabulous that you made it that far, focus on that success instead. And hey, there are still the MADs!! Thanks for sharing with #WotW x

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Jocelyn. I’m very fortunate to have a lovely manager. The book is a huge thing for me, and I’m really proud. On balance, it was a pretty good week. While I am still a little disappointed about the awards, I’m not letting it get to me. Onwards and upwards! xxx

  8. poutinginheels
    May 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm (5 years ago)

    Well done Leigh! Bar The award disappointment (I have to say it, how on earth you didn’t make it through beggars belief in my opinion!) what an incredible week you have had. So proud of you Leigh and everything you are achieving both personally and for #hugoslegacy. You courage and determination knows no bounds and as always I wish you every success. So looking forward to seeing you at BritMums. Much love xxx

  9. poutinginheels
    May 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm (5 years ago)

    A wonderful list. Bar The awards disappointment (I have to say it, frankly I’m astonished you have not made the finals. Seems totally bonkers to me!) what an incredible week you have had! So proud of you Leigh and everything you are achieving personally and for #hugoslegacy. Your courage and your determination knows no bounds. And as always I wish you every success. Cannot wait to see you next month at Brit Mums. Much love xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:44 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you lovely Katie. Ah well re the awards, such is life. Onwards and upwards, awards or no – they are not my motivation, positive change is. My motivation knows no bounds where Hugo’s Legacy is concerned! Thank you gorgeous for being a wonderful friend, I am so looking forward to seeing you again at BML xxx

  10. Katy (What Katy Said)
    May 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm (5 years ago)

    Leigh you are just the most wonderful woman. Well done on taking those brave steps to babysit for your friend, it must have been so hard.
    I am so sorry you didn’t make the final of the bibs but you are so right, the people you touch and the work that you do is much more of a reward. An award is nice but it is not a reflection of your blog at all so just put it out of your mind. Love that you went to do a photo shoot, I am wanting to do something similar after that same talk but am yet to be brave enough. I will be using a tripod though as Mr F is definitely not up to the job haha!!! Big hugs and cannot wait to see you in a few weeks. xx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm (5 years ago)

      Bless you Katy, thank you. You are right about the awards. The photo shoot was great fun, something completely different! Aw do go for it with your tripod. So looking forward to seeing you again at BML lovely xxx

  11. Kim Carberry
    May 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow! What a week…..I am feeling quite emotional for you!
    I’m loving the bag and dress….You look fab 🙂 x

  12. Hannah Budding Smiles
    May 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm (5 years ago)

    A heartfelt and touching post my lovely Leigh, you’ve made so many steps recently, all positive but overwhelming in their significance so you’ve done well to both take the steps and talk about them so beautifully. I’m absolutely honoured to call you my friend and Toby’s response at meeting you was one of the most heart warming experiences, he knows what a special person you are and I know he and Hugo would have been great friends xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you lovely Hannah. Meeting you and Toby was wonderful, and I was so touched when he reached out for that cuddle. He and Hugo would have been firm friends, I am sure. I am privileged to call you my friend. See you again soon xxx

  13. sally5881
    May 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm (5 years ago)

    Oops #twitter x

  14. sally5881
    May 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you Leigh 💖 I haven’t managed to read all your blogs in their entirety but have signposted 2 equally brave women (and as such their families) to your blog since meeting you via #rwitter.
    Be kind to yourself and rest easy this weekend – with love, Sally x

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you Sally for your wonderful comment. I’m trying to be kind to myself, honest xxx


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