Bittersweet Success

Writing is something I have enjoyed since I was a little girl. For years, I wished for the success I have recently achieved – but I wish I could trade it all in.

During my childhood, it was stories I would make up, with pictures to go with them. As I grew up, my writing ability was praised, but I lacked the confidence to actively develop my skill.

It was only in my thirties that I started to seriously explore writing. With a career in PR and a distinction in a feature writing diploma under my belt, my confidence slowly grew and I started my first blog.

Besides my family and friends, only about five other people ever read the blog. That was not a reflection of the quality of my writing: while my growing confidence enabled me to put my writing on the internet for the whole world to read and seeing it live gave me a great boost, I didn’t have the self-belief to actively promote my work.

What a difference a year makes. In 2013 I started this blog, but took a hiatus that got longer and longer for one reason and another.

After Hugo’s death, I took to my blog as a form of therapy. I wanted to use my blog to tell the world how wonderful my son was and how much I love him. I wanted people to know about HELLP syndrome, the rare pregnancy condition that nearly took my life, necessitated Hugo’s very premature birth and, ultimately his death. I wanted to tell people how it feels to be an empty-armed mother.

I wanted my blog, and the awareness I raised through it, to be Hugo’s legacy. To ensure the 35 days of his life had meaning. To give meaning to my second chance at life. To give me a purpose to my empty days.

Any awareness-raising campaign needs people to take notice of it, to read about it, and to tell their friends in order to be successful. Hugo’s legacy has taken off in a way I could never have imagined.

Last year, I was pretty happy with the couple of hundred or so monthly views my blog would receive, and the odd comment I received. People enjoyed my writing, and it made them think. That made me happy.

This year, zeros have been added to those monthly page views. Last month, I got more than 10,000 views on one particular post within about six hours.

Many bloggers, and, indeed people running all sorts of other websites would have been over the moon at that kind of result.

While I was stunned at the reach of that post, I could not feel happy about it. The post was about baby bereavement photography, and about my regret at not having a photo of Hugo’s face, without the medical paraphernalia.

As a result of that post, doctors and nurses who work with babies have said they will review their practice.

Awareness has been raised, other families helped as a result of this, and other posts on related issues.

I am not afraid to challenge, to say what I think.

My confidence has blossomed as a result of nearly dying. Of being able to put things in a better perspective. Of being able to say ‘f*ck it’ to what other people think.

My passion has flourished as a result of my precious son’s death. Of my sense of guilt over his death. Of my need to create Hugo’s legacy, to have made his life, so tragically short, worthwhile.

I would not hesitate to exchange my success for having my baby back with me. For the anonymous life we should have had. For having nothing more than normal motherhood to write about.

But that is not possible.

How many people who have endured trauma and tragedy wish they had never discovered their inner strength in such a way? Too many to count, probably.

Thank you to you all for helping make Hugo’s legacy so successful. For sharing my posts, sharing your own stories, and helping other parents in a similar situation.

This is not a situation I want to be in. Membership of the exclusive club no one wants to be in.

My writing success is so bittersweet.



8 thoughts on “Bittersweet Success

  1. Misplaced Brit (@Misplaced_Brit) says:

    You write about things that people don’t know how to talk about. You shout from the rooftops that nobody in this situation is alone. Yours is the voice calling out to stop, listen and understand. Sharing and teaching us how to support each other.
    Yours is the voice calling for change …You’ve reached the NHS. And 10.000 views in less than a day is because what you’re writing about is important.
    Thank you.


  2. Claire says:

    As a fellow bereaved parent, I admire your efforts in writing this blog and creating a legacy for Hugo. (He sounds such a character by the way, and your blog captures his unique personality and your love for him).

    “How many people who have endured trauma and tragedy wish they had never discovered their inner strength in such a way? Too many to count, probably.” – I read Doreen Lawrence’s autobiography and she says very similar. It’s obvious I know, but there is no compensation, no ‘at least…’ just the desperate wish to have your child back.


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting – and I love that Hugo comes over so well. Those words from Doreen Lawrence are very resonant – thank you. You’re so right, there is never an ‘at least’. Love to you xxx


  3. Kylie says:

    Without the death of Hugo I wouldn’t have you in my life, your writing to inform and inspire my practice.

    And that makes me sad, because as much as I love and value you in my life, I wish you weren’t in it.

    I wish you were too tied up in your little boy, too busy pushing prams, and going to baby groups, and learning to be the best mum you can be to even write a word.

    Thank you for giving us the gift of your grief. They gift of your son. The light of your life that means so much to us all.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Bless you, Kylie. I love having you in my life too, but it’s not at all personal when I say I wish I had never met you, because if Hugo was still with me our paths would not have crossed. I am glad, though, that Hugo can help other babies and families through me and through you. xxx


  4. Tim says:

    You have so much to be proud of, Leigh: Hugo, your blog and the way the two have come together to become something meaningful and with a real clarity of purpose. While stats represent a marker of sorts, I think it’s clear to anyone who has read your posts for any length of time that (a) you are an able, expressive and passionate writer and (b) you make a real difference to other people – not just those who have had to deal with bereavement but also touching a wider audience (like me) and raising awareness. Bittersweet, yes, but also something to be rightly proud of.


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