All I want for Christmas – Is for Christmas to be over

Blog post by Leigh Kendall

I’m not looking forward to Christmas. In fact, I’m looking forward to December 25 coming and going.
HugoIt’s not because I’m a miserable humbug. It’s because my baby son Hugo died earlier this year.

Last Christmas, I was pregnant with our first baby. My partner and I thought it would be our last ‘quiet’ Christmas together – this year, we thought we would be deluged by presents for the baby, and by visits from family. Our baby was due in June, so would just be starting weaning – we wondered what the baby would like to eat, and what would make them screw up their face in disgust (we didn’t know the baby’s gender then).

It all went wrong in late February. My midwife sent me to my local hospital, where I was diagnosed with the rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I was just 24 weeks pregnant. I was sent to a specialist hospital two hours away because I was so sick and my unborn baby so premature – Hugo was born by emergency Caesarean section the day after I arrived.

My feisty little baby fought so hard for 35 days. Sadly, Hugo was too small, and premature, with underdeveloped lungs. He died in my arms.

The grief and heartbreak at losing my precious, much-wanted and much-loved baby is indescribable. Christmas is an extra torment: cute little Christmas baby outfits in the shops that I should be buying for Hugo; the Christmas adverts on the TV that promote happy families celebrating together; the lyrics of Christmas songs that now have a painful resonance (“Baby all I want for Christmas is you” in particular). All of these rub salt in to the wound.

It doesn’t matter how many more children we are able to have in the future, Christmas will never be the celebration it should be. Hugo will always be missing. He will never write a Christmas list, go to see Father Christmas, be in a nativity play, or open presents. We will never see his little face light up at the sight of decorations, or chuckle when he screws up his face in disgust at Brussels sprouts. All normal things that so many other parents take for granted.

If you know someone who has lost a baby or child, spare an extra thought for them at Christmas. Make sure you mention their name in cards – they are still a part of their family. Please don’t worry that including the baby’s name will upset them – it’s actually not acknowledging that can cause upset. Understand that the parents might not be enthusiastic about parties and other celebrations. Try not to encourage them to go to ‘help cheer them up’ – however well-meant, recovery from grief is far from that easy.

This Christmas, and every Christmas, my own little star, Hugo, will be missing. Christmas will never be joyful for me again.

You can find out more about Hugo’s Legacy and the work Leigh is doing to raise awareness at – http://headspace-perspective.com/hugos-legacy/

4 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas – Is for Christmas to be over

    1. Robyn Thomas

      I can’t help you but what I can say is 11 years ago my son Emrys was born at 24 weeks and he too lost his battle for life. That was in October and Christmas was hard. I made special candles for all my close family and freinds and asked them to light them on Christmas Day, I bought a little Christmas tree in a pot and decorated it and put it on his grave… Even now that year is hard to think about without tears BUT it has got better over the years and now I have a very exited 10 year old and 6 year old and 2 year old who are emptying my bank account and wanting every gadget under the sun! Keep going don’t give up and the beautiful light that was your baby will be within your heart always shining through your darkest and happiest of times x x x x

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  1. Lucy

    I lost my son at 22 weeks in 2009. Christmas was terrible so I feel your pain. It will get better though. It doesn’t seem that way now trust me, but it eventually will. It will never be the same and he will always be missing but every year I buy him things to put on his Christmas grave. I write him a card and I include him in my Xmas cards to friends and family. I light a candle on Christmas Day and do wonder ‘what if’. I had to wait 5 years after his death for my daughter and she’ll be 3 in March. This is the first Christmas that I’m actually quite looking forward to. He will never be forgotten, trust me, but the pain will manifest itself into something else with time. Lots of love to you all this week x

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