I Thought We Had More Time

I thought we had more time.

Precious photos, me posing proudly with my burgeoning bump. But those photos are too few: at 23 weeks, I thought we had more time.

Me at 20 weeks

Me at 20 weeks

After diagnosis, in hospital, Hugo was not born that first night. More time granted. Precious time for my precious baby to grow, be strong. Transferred by ambulance to a different hospital, expecting to be kept stable for as long as possible. Expecting to be bored.

But there was no time to be bored.

Hugo was born. Born the next morning.

Just in time. Just in time for him, for me, to have more time. To live.

Precious time. 35 days. Each one so special, especially when we might have had none.

But how much time with your child is enough?

There is no number.

It cannot be quantified.

Expecting, hoping to be at the hospital for many weeks, months, until Hugo’s due date.

From the winter to the summer.

Hugo would pass through the seasons in a clear plastic box, rather than in my belly.

I wanted more time.

I thought we had more time:

Hugo Boss, so small yet so mighty.

Challenging so many odds,

We dared to hope.

We dared to dream

That with time, our boy would grow, flourish, come home.

My first picture with Hugo.

My first picture with Hugo.

I wanted more time:

More time than 24 hours in one day.

So much to do:

Spend time with Hugo.

Make memories.

Express my breast milk for Hugo, several times a day.

Meetings with doctors.

Postnatal appointments for me.

Time to rest (yeah right, I have a seriously ill baby, no time for rest).

Keep our families and friends updated.

Retain what is left of our sanity.

My beautiful Hugo

My beautiful Hugo

Time is nothing, yet everything:

Born at 24 weeks.

Hugo’s poorly lungs.

He was running out of time.

Despair, sorrow, animalistic sobs.

We will not give up.

A decision made.

Steroids started.

A 10 day course.

The last chance.

We were buying time.

I thought we had more time:

10 days.

More than a week.

To see if the steroids were working.

And they were!


Such excitement.

Once again we dared to hope

Dared to dream

That we had time.

Me and Hugo enjoying a cuddle.

Me and Hugo enjoying a cuddle.

During that time:

So many cuddles enjoyed.

Enjoyed by Hugo, by Mummy, by Daddy.

Hugo so calm, so content.

Precious times indeed.

During those cuddles –

Time stood still

Time went too quickly

There could never be enough time.

I thought we had more time:

The steroids started on a Thursday,

I thought we had until the following Saturday, at least.

On the Monday: I started to feel unwell, viral.

I kept away from Hugo. No cares, no cuddles.

All day.

He was doing well. He could not get ill. It was for the best.

At the time.

Time wasted.

On the Wednesday, an unfamiliar nurse caring for Hugo.

Intimidated by Hugo’s fragility, and with poor interpersonal skills, an awful day.

Not allowed to help with cares.

Not allowed to have a cuddle.



Time squandered.

But even on that day, I thought we had more time.

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo.

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo.

The following day, another Thursday:

One week after the steroids were started.

Seven days.

The Grand Round. The verdict.

Withdraw treatment. A f*cked up judge and jury.

That is my son!

Me on the floor, hyperventilating.

Why could they not have made time to have told me a different way?

We were running out of time.

We could withdraw treatment.

There was a possibility Hugo could die while on the ventilator.

An impossible decision.

Such little time to make it.

Only seven days, not 10: time had cheated us.

I could not bear to think of Hugo dying frightened, alone, prodded by strangers.

I could not bear to think of Hugo dying.

I could not bear to think of the end.

Time suspended.

Hugo and I could cuddle for as long as we wanted.

I sang. We read stories, Daddy and I. We took photos, video.

Hugo stroked my skin. As if he too knew time was limited.

The cuddle that day lasted three hours.

Every moment, savoured.

We both could have stayed there forever.

There could never be enough time.

Me and Hugo, during the three-hour cuddle.

Me and Hugo, during the three-hour cuddle.

Later that day –

Hugo told us it was time.

First Hugo had a cuddle with Daddy.

Then Hugo had a cuddle with me.

Skin-to-skin. Little feet kicking me.

For the last time.

And then it was time.

A doctor arrived, removed Hugo’s breathing tube.

Hugo was gone. Peacefully, quietly, in no time.

The day was Thursday March 27, 2014. The time approximately 5.40pm.

Time spent with our boy, after.

Taking turns to cuddle him.

Admire his beautiful face without wires and tubes.

Then it was time to go.

A final look at Hugo in the Moses basket.

So peaceful, so serene, so perfect.

It was time to walk away.

My heart irrevocably smashed, shattered, destroyed.

I wonder whether more time with Hugo could have saved him.

The missed day, ill.

The squandered day with the unkind nurse.

I know Hugo had so much love. If love was enough he would be here.

Time spent flagellating myself is time ill-spent, I know.

There is nothing more anyone could have done.

What Hugo needed was more time in my belly.

But there was no choice.

Tempus fugit.

Time flies.

I thought we had more time.

Holding Hugo after he died.

Holding Hugo after he died.


14 Comments on I Thought We Had More Time

  1. Amy
    March 30, 2016 at 10:21 pm (6 years ago)

    I don’t know how you find the words, Leigh but you do. And beautifully. The part where you had to leave him is heartbreaking. It is so amazing that you share how this feels so that those of us who have no idea, can feel a millionth of what you must feel in full force every day. I am so sad this happened to you and all the other families it happens too. Much love x

  2. Maddy@writingbubble
    March 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm (6 years ago)

    I can’t find the words. I so deeply wish you’d had more time. xxx

    • Leigh
      March 30, 2016 at 8:29 am (6 years ago)

      Me too. So, so much xxx

  3. Meghan
    March 26, 2016 at 9:02 pm (6 years ago)

    There is never enough time. Mother’s of preemies don’t get to enjoy the blissful moments of being a mommy, remember to goto postnatal doctor appointments or anything for that matter because there is no time. At any moment the worst can happen and there isn’t even time for us to think about that. It would just be a waste rather than making every second count and every moment a memory. This is so raw and I am so sorry for your loss. It takes courage and strength to be so vulnerable in this way.

    • Leigh
      March 30, 2016 at 8:30 am (6 years ago)

      Thank you for reading and commenting xxx

  4. Susan Mills
    March 26, 2016 at 2:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing. Your story is mine but with my daughter. Born too early. Fighting for 39 days.
    Fear of her dying alone with strangers. Thinking I had time to bathe her the following day. That bath never happened.
    Holding her while they removed her breathing tube. Her little heart kept beating for 30 minutes after her last breath. That moment on Jan 8, 2007 at 4:00pm when the doctor confirmed her tired little heart stopped.
    The cuddles with her minus the tubes. The family around her, loving her, missing her already. Her big brother and twin sister there but who were too young to ever truly know how wonderful she was.
    Thank you for making me realize I am not alone. May you have have the strength to go on. Hugs to you and your family.

    • Leigh
      March 30, 2016 at 8:31 am (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s horrific isn’t it – I’m sorry we are not alone, but it is a comfort to know others share the same feelings. Love to you xxx

  5. Momofdaats
    March 26, 2016 at 2:39 am (6 years ago)


  6. Faye Tales and Tea
    March 24, 2016 at 10:04 am (6 years ago)

    If I could have given you any of my time I would have, thank you for sharing your story. His legacy with live on through your strength. What beautiful photos to cherish of your time together. Sending so much love to you x

  7. Dawn
    March 24, 2016 at 1:23 am (6 years ago)

    There are no words for how much I wish I could change your story’s ending. The love you feel for your darling son leaps off the page and has moved me so much. He is so lucky to have you as his mother, your strength and ferocious determination to ensure his legacy means something is inspiring. You will be in my thoughts as this week ends and another begins xxxxx

  8. Angela at daysinbed
    March 24, 2016 at 12:37 am (6 years ago)

    Im laying bed in hospital reading your story and crying! It breaks my heart and I’m so sorry you went through this! I am glad you had time with Hugo although it will have never been enough! With tears rolling down my eyes I respect and love that you were able to share this beautiful story and legacy of your precious son!

    Angela from days in bed

  9. Hannah Budding Smiles
    March 23, 2016 at 9:03 pm (6 years ago)

    I wish that anything I could say or do would give you, Martin and Hugo more time. I’ve been thinking of you so much this week xxx

  10. Katy ( What Katy Said)
    March 23, 2016 at 8:39 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh Leigh, such precious photos- some I’ve not seen before. I wish you’d had more time. Huge hugs for you over the coming days xxx

  11. ghostwritermummy
    March 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh Leigh. If I could give you just one more day I would. I cannot begin to image just how hard this is for you. Hugo is so beautiful, and you are so beautiful. I am so so sorry fro your loss xxxxxxx


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