I am a childless mother. My only child – my son, Hugo, died earlier this year at the age of 35 days.
I am heartbroken. Lost. Disconnected from the rest of the world.
People have been wonderful, but it’s impossible for the majority of them to know how Martin and I feel to have lost a child.
I’m glad the majority can’t understand. The pain is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I was so pleased to have found this post, When Your Only Child Dies, yesterday. It was like the author had looked into my head and wrote down what I have been feeling.
My head is not a happy place. But like the author – and anyone else who has lost a baby or child, whether or not they have other children – I do what I can to get through it.
A couple of weeks after Hugo’s death I started to write. My blog has existed for a couple of years. Previously I’d written about everyday issues, but I’d neglected my blog for about a year – life just got in the way. I’d planned to blog towards the end of my pregnancy about my excitement and anticipation about my impending arrival, and when my baby had arrived about all the things we were doing and marking his developmental milestones. Just like so many mummy bloggers do.
Nothing turned out the way it was supposed to.
I took to my blog to write about everything that had happened. I’d hoped it would be therapeutic and cathartic, and it was. It also gave me a purpose to my day, and a way to sort out my feelings.
I wanted to tell people about HELLP syndrome, the rare pregnancy condition that started it all, so I did. I wanted to share first-hand advice with other neonatal mummies, so I have. I had always planned to show off my new baby to anyone and everyone – under the tragic circumstances I made use of the resources I had available to me to tell Hugo’s Story.
My desire to find a way through the worst-imaginable tragedy for any parent is reflected in my blogging. I’d hoped to share my amazing son with people, to raise awareness about positive pregnancy and neonatal unit parenting. I’d hoped people would read them.
I’m astounded at the reach of my blog. Strangers have offered condolences about Hugo, and agreed what an amazing son I have. I’m a proud mummy. Literally thousands more people have now heard of HELLP syndrome, and are aware of the signs and symptoms of that and preeclampsia. Start a Conversation About Baby Loss has taught untold numbers of people that it’s ok to ask bereaved parents about their baby.
It goes without saying that I would much rather be functioning as a ‘normal’ new mum. Sleep deprived, steeped in nappies and with Hugo latched to my boobs. I’d rather no one read a word I write.
But this has happened. HELLP happened. Hugo fought and Hugo died. This is my coping strategy. It is the path I have been given – finding meaning in something that is so (very rude word) unfair.
My blog is my baby, something to grow and nurture. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.
Helping other people helps me, too. I like knowing my words have touched people, made them feel like they are not alone, or taught them something new about things that they will hopefully never have to experience first-hand.
My blog also helps me to connect with people who ‘get it’. If I was a ‘normal’ mummy with a living baby, I would be probably seeking advice about sleeping patterns, nappy rash and teething. Normal baby stuff. I’d probably be overwhelmed with advice because so many people have had a baby and have things to say about what you should do with them.
So many people have been kind and understanding, but so many don’t know what to do or what to say because they don’t ‘get it’. It’s difficult to help me beyond kind words and hugs. Kind words and hugs are always appreciated, and I appreciate those who say they feel sad because they can’t take away my pain. What I want most is gone and can never be returned to me. It’s our tragic reality.
People who ‘get it’ understand the pain, the anguish, the heartbreak. In the exclusive club that no one wants to join, it helps us to know that we are not alone, that someone else feels it too.
I love that because of my blog so many people know about Hugo, and what a special boy he was. I love that through his legacy, he can help other people and live on through that. His life will not have been in vain. It’s my way of dealing with my reality.
My work has had fantastic support through comments on my blog and on social media. I’ve been privileged to know such kind and generous people.
Some of them have called me ‘brave’. That’s lovely, but I never set out to be brave. I’m just dealing with what is, in the only way I know how. If someone had told me this time last year what would happen to me and how I would deal with it, I would have laughed at them. In these times, you do discover a strength you never knew you had. I wish I hadn’t had to discover mine this way.
I suppose putting it all out there in the way that I have is a bravery of sorts. However I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and I’ve always been without guile. That part of me hasn’t changed.
I’m open and honest. In our culture there is too much sweeping things under the carpet and skirting around the issues that matter most. I can’t help thinking that if more of us were more about things like bereavement and dealing with mental ill health, we’d be a lot better at dealing with them and helping others through it.
I know I can’t hide behind my computer forever. Avoiding panic attacks by avoiding babies and happy families is not an effective long-term strategy. I want to get better, and I want to make the most of my life, for Hugo. For Martin too. For the three of us. For everyone who loves me and who worries about me.
Hugo stole my heart. He has taken it with him.
In time, the pieces will mend, but it will never be the same. A piece with Hugo’s name on will always be missing.
Life will never be the same. I will never be the same.
For better and for worse.
But in the meantime, while I recover, this blog is giving me purpose after Hugo.
Thank you for your love, your kindness, your patience and your understanding towards this childless mother.
And, most importantly, thank you for your support of Hugo’s Legacy. He is my world, and it means the world to me.