Tommy's guest blog, 01/01/2017, by Leigh Kendall
New Year is often seen as a time of celebration, and of looking forward. But that is not necessarily the case if you are a bereaved parent.
My son Hugo was born in February 2014 when I was just 24 weeks’ pregnant. I had the rare, life-threatening pregnancy illness HELLP syndrome and the only cure was for Hugo to be born by emergency Caesarean section – otherwise we both would have died.
Sadly, despite everything possible being done for Hugo he was too small and premature, and he died aged 35 days.
Grief brought many difficult days, of course. I found Christmas and New Year 2014 especially sad. Christmas should have been a joyous occasion with our new baby, of course.
What is perhaps not so obvious is the challenges the prospect of a new year brought.
That is because 2014 was ‘Hugo’s year’. The year in which he lived and he died. The conclusion of the year felt like losing yet another link with my son.
In addition, I was also tormented with thoughts of how happy I had felt the previous year, pregnant and looking forward to the birth of my son with no hint of the tragedy and sorrow that was to come.
I wrote this post in 2014, which articulates my raw feelings of the time.
Well, 2014. In a few days it will be time for us to part ways. I shall be sorry to see you go.
There will be some who will find that strange. Yes, 2014 has been in many ways the worst year of my life. But it has also been the best.
2014 was the year I became a Mummy. There really is no greater gift.
The year started with such promise, it was to be ‘our year’. I was expecting our long-awaited baby.
My all-day-and-all-night nausea had finally abated, the dreadful draining tiredness had finally gone, and the radiant vibrancy of the second trimester had finally arrived. My bump was growing well, and inside it my baby was kicking and punching me like a pro.
You lulled me in to a false sense of security, though, 2014. You were not destined to be ‘our year’ at all. You were just a month and a half old when it all fell apart.
Me seriously ill, my baby born far too prematurely, him fighting so hard for his life, my beloved baby dying a month later. Any one of those things would be enough to devastate someone, but you packed them all in even before the first quarter was over.
It’s funny, though, 2014 because I don’t hate you. You have given me the best time of my life.
Those 35 precious days with my beautiful baby. Every day his Daddy and I marvelled at Hugo, this perfect little human being we created together.
Every day Hugo made us laugh, and amazed us with his strength of character. Every day, we loved Hugo more. We didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much. The power of that love is incomparable.
During 2014, I have been shown how much I am loved and valued, too. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from family and friends. Those friends include those I have known for years, those who I have reconnected with.
I am sorry I have not been a better relation or friend this year. I have been selfish, and unreliable. I hope you will understand that I have done whatever I can this year to survive my heartbreak, but know I appreciate and value everything you have done for me.
2014 introduced me to people who were complete strangers before everything happened, whom I have met on social media and through blogging. I hope they will not take offence at my wish that I had not met any of them, but I am so incredibly grateful for your continuing love and support for me and for my blog.
I have learnt so much about myself during the past nine months. My strength, my passion, my determination to survive. My strength, my passion, my determination to stand up for what I believe to be right, to use my experience to make changes for others.
My passion and determination to make Hugo’s memory live on through these changes, his enduring legacy.
When I look back on 2014, much seems a blur. I wonder if you put a funny focus on some of the months, with a finger on fast forward. I had so many plans to change the world by the end of the year. The world remains unchanged, but an impact has been made.
Hugo’s legacy is making a difference already. I should be proud, I know, and I am.
This feeling is because all the crap you have thrown me alongside the good, 2014. I have crawled through some of those months on my hands and knees, or trying to climb an escalator that is going down.
But you know what, 2014? Despite all the crap you have sent me, I am still here. I am going, still. I won’t say ‘going strong’, because I don’t feel that. Considering there were times that felt like the crap was going to beat me, me still going is an achievement.
I really will be sorry to see you go. I feel like I’m just getting a handle on your ways. I know it’s silly, really: there is no actual difference between 23:59 on December 31 and 00:01 on January 1. Our culture likes to measure time in this way. Other cultures celebrate their new year at a different time.
Other don’t track time at all. That sounds quite liberating.
It sounds liberating because I am dreading the end of 2014. 2014 is the year of Hugo, the year in which he lived. 2015 is unknown. It will also bring the worst firsts of all: the anniversaries of Hugo’s birth, and his death.
What I ask from the next 12 months is a year of better emotional stability, where the lows do not steep to such terrifying depths.
Now, in 2016, it is different rather than easier. I am better prepared for new year, so the pain will not take me by surprise, but knowing another year without Hugo is passing, and it will be three years since I held him in my arms hurts more than I can describe.
If Leigh's words have resonated with you and you want to hear, you can read Leigh's blog, Headspace Perspective, here.
Leigh has also launched a new blog dedicated to lifestyle, wellbeing and creativity. Her positive posts are very uplifting and her insightful advice and body positive commentary could be just what you need this New Year. Take a look at Leigh's new blog, Looking for a Bright Side, here.
If you want to connect with Leigh, you can follow her Instagram account for more reflections on baby loss and how she is finding a way to tackle life positively, constructively and creatively.
We want to wish of our incredible supporters all the best moving into 2017. We hope this year brings you all you are hoping for.
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