Blog post by Leigh Kendall
I’m not looking forward to Christmas. In fact, I’m looking forward to December 25 coming and going.
It’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/