Hugo’s First Birthday, Survived

Hugo’s first birthday, one of the most difficult ‘firsts’ has come and gone. It was not a date I was looking forward to. But I have survived.

Really, my survival was not in doubt. Hugo’s first birthday could never be as bad as the day he died, or as bad as the day of his funeral. As with many such things, the anticipation was possibly worse than the day itself.


A friend whose son died last year in similar circumstances to Hugo messaged me to say that she found her son’s first birthday no better or no worse than any other day since he died. While she was sad that her son could not be there to celebrate his birthday with them, it didn’t make the pain any worse than it already was. That neatly sums up how the day felt for me.

The dread started on the previous evening. I could not help but remember that was the last night I was pregnant. I was haunted by the thought that the pain in my chest was actually my liver in trouble, and that I had cheerfully responded with a “Yes, whatever,” to the midwives’ insistence that I tell them immediately if I developed a headache or flashing lights in my vision. I had no idea at the time exactly how seriously ill I was.

Reflecting on that night, and the following morning when Hugo was born is terrifying.

Hugo’s birthday started on a sombre note. I had been troubled by nightmares, and both Martin and I had a cry. We were both thinking how different that day should have been.

We were provided with much comfort by kind friends – both real-life and people whom we have got to know online. We were sent messages from people saying they were thinking of us and of Hugo. Some sent resonant song lyrics, and symbolic pictures. All these were sent as an expression of love for our little boy. It really did mean so much, and helped us through the day.

The week before Hugo’s birthday I had come up with a hair-brained idea to get #HugosLegacy trending on Twitter to mark the anniversary of his birth. In all honesty, I thought I might get a few people joining in and at best we might achieve a lower-ranking trend.

But – to my emotional astonishment – #HugosLegacy was for a time top trending!

This achievement is thanks mainly to a group of very special friends who took a lot of time to tweet, share on Facebook, write dedicated blog posts, and get in touch with all sorts of people to ask them to join in. You all know who you are – I’m not going to list you for fear of omitting someone – I am so very grateful.

Martin and I tweeted photos and little anecdotes about Hugo, while others tweeted my posts, and reasons why #HugosLegacy is important. It was like a virtual birthday party for my super champion boy. I was so very proud.

There were so many I was unable to keep up, and at times my laptop froze. I tried my best to respond to everyone and say thank you. There may be tweets that I missed – if so, I’m sorry. There is much more to this story, and I shall write a separate post.

We achieved the top trending rank at the same time as we reached our fundraising target. I was so overwhelmed, I took off my glasses, put my head in my hands and had a cry.


The fundraising target (which I had doubled from our original target because it had been achieved so quickly) has been surpassed. So many people have been incredibly generous – thank you. The page is still open, and will be ongoing so more babies can be helped in Hugo’s memory.

The online activity celebrating Hugo’s arrival in the world, and the impact he has had on it exceeded my wildest expectations.

Martin and I visited Hugo’s garden. We took him some balloons and flowers. We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ – one of Hugo’s lovely nurses had messaged me that morning encouraging me to do so, imagining him boogying to it. That image helped put a smile on my face, although a sad one.

Hugo's garden.

Hugo’s garden.

We were spoilt with gifts for Hugo. The gifts are so wonderful they deserve a post of their own. All the gifts are symbolic of Hugo, and are very special indeed. Martin and I commissioned a special piece of artwork for Hugo, which is so beautiful.

The artwork we commissioned for Hugo.

The artwork we commissioned for Hugo.

The evening was spent in the company of good friends who helped us celebrate the arrival of our son.

We are now getting through the period from today until March 27, the day Hugo died. We are taking each day at a time.

Each day may bring its own challenges, but we know with the love and support of so many people, we will survive them.

21 thoughts on “Hugo’s First Birthday, Survived

  1. Tim says:

    Leigh (and Martin), your openness, determination and quiet strength in circumstances I can only imagine are an example to us all. So pleased that #HugosLegacy gained the momentum and recognition it deserved – it was a lovely idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mummyshambles says:

    I’m so glad to see that #HugosLegacy trended. You are going through the unimaginable but are spreading awareness and helping others amidst your own pain. That takes bravery and like everybody else, I am humbled. We need to talk about baby loss and you are helping to break down the taboo. You are truly amazing and inspirational and I send much love to you and Martin. xXx


  3. Kylie (@kykaree) says:

    When I saw your tweet about #hugoslegacy trending I knew it had to happen. And I am so glad it did. More than the buzz of seeing his name on my trending list was seeing people talk about him, and about neonatal care and HELLP and baby loss.

    You have made the nation talk about babyloss, to face this taboo, to talk about things people would rather forget, through your beautiful boy.

    You and Martin are very special people who have done something extraordinary out of great sadness.


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I know I’ve said the word ‘humbled’ a lot, but I really am humbled by the people who got involved on Friday. Thank you for everything you did, Kylie.

      Absolutely, while it was wonderful to see people talk about Hugo, it was an incredible opportunity to raise awareness of HELLP, NNU, and baby loss, and get people talking about them.

      Thank you so much for your support of #HugosLegacy xxx


  4. Casey Bottono says:

    Dear Leigh (and Martin),

    I am in awe reading this. You have both shown such courage in stepping forward and building #HugosLegacy, when many might have shrunk back. Although it was of course a sad day, it is a blessing to hear that you were able to find and create moments of joy.

    I’ll continue to hold you in my thoughts until the 27th of March, and beyond.



    Liked by 1 person

  5. downssideup says:

    Darling Leigh, I thought of you all day with tears in my eyes. I was attending my uncle’s funeral on Friday at the exact time of your Twitter trend and I mentioned to the minister how fragile life is and how we were remembering little Hugo that day too. You are an amazing family and your post has reduced me to tears again, but how proud I am of what you have achieved. I’m off to make a small donation now. Hayley x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Oh lovely Hayley, I’m sorry for your loss of your uncle. It is so kind of you to remember Hugo on that day too. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, it really does mean so much xxx


  6. Katie / Pouting In Heels says:

    You’re amazing Leigh. Truly you are and I’m so glad that amongst the pain, there were moments of happiness for you to savour on Hugo’s first birthday. I bet he was dancing amongst the stars on Friday, so proud of you both and filled with love. Thinking of you and wishing you peaceful days ahead. With love XXX

    P.S The artwork you commissioned is absolutely beautiful x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      There were wonderful moments of pride and happiness on Friday, amongst the sadness. It was an amazing day in so many ways. I hope Hugo is as proud of us as we are of him.

      I love the artwork – I keep looking at it in wonder xxx


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