While I have been actively trying to be positive lately, to keep the anger and dark feelings at bay, I am aware that my reserves of positivity are finite. It’s been a busy week, one full of achievements to acknowledge so I guess the low mood and tiredness I am experiencing today is only to be expected. Balance, and all that.
The positive thing is that I have been doing things to extend my horizons, to reintegrate myself in to ‘normal’ life, whatever that is!
In no particular order of importance or chronology…
You may remember that last autumn I cuddled the first baby since Hugo, which was a hugely emotional experience. The past few months have been a rough road. When I met up with lovely Hannah (Budding Smiles) a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know how I would be with her son Toby. In the event, I didn’t have time to worry because he reached out his arms for a cuddle with me as soon as we met. Toby is a gorgeous baby, happy and great fun; we got on like a house on fire, which boosted my confidence about not having a meltdown around babies. It was wonderful to meet Hannah at last, and have a good natter. Hannah and I bonded immediately too.
Back to this week, my good friend, the mum of the baby I had the emotional cuddle with last autumn has now moved back to our town. Martin and I volunteered to look her son for a couple of hours so she could have a bit of relaxation time. It was a HUGE step for us.
The baby is now more of a little boy – he celebrated his first birthday last week. He is a very active, happy, chilled out little boy and a pleasure to look after. We went to the park – he’s almost walking unaided, but at the moment likes to hold a grown-up’s fingers for support. Pushing his pram felt very strange, yet lovely.
After his nap, we had a cuddle and read some books while he woke up. That was the point that really tugged at my emotions: I could hear my ‘reading voice’ and of course was instantly taken back to the many hours that were spent reading similar books to my Hugo.
We had a lovely afternoon, my friend enjoyed a bit of relaxation time, and I was really proud of myself.
Engaging in some self-compassion, I can acknowledge that is acceptable for me to feel sad that I should be caring for a toddler all day, every day. To feel sad that my friend’s little boy and Hugo should be getting up to all sorts of mischief together.
Returning to Work
Setting a date for returning to work was a huge achievement. I met with my lovely manager yesterday. She is so supportive and happy to accommodate whatever I need to feel as comfortable as ever will be possible.
The complication is I work in a hospital. It is a different hospital to where Hugo and I were cared for, but still any clinical environment provides the source of many of my triggers. Happily, I have been given some projects that I will enjoy, and that I will be able to mostly do from home.
I will be starting on a phased return, the week after next. I shall also be reducing my working hours on an ongoing basis to help gain a reasonable work/life balance, and enable me to have time and energy to further Hugo’s Legacy. I am also able to reflect that nothing, surely, can be as bad as what has already happened.
Maternity Experience (#MatExp)
I am privileged to be involved with the #MatExp campaign. A couple of weeks ago a couple of us were talking about next steps. Most of the #MatExp discussion has to date been on Twitter, which is brilliant because the platform removes hierarchies and enables open discussion and engagement. However, the downside is the character limit, and it moves so fast (there are about 600 #MatExp tweets a day; challenging to keep up with!).
I came up with the idea of a Facebook page for #MatExp, which has now become this group set up as a group effort. Within 24 hours we had more than 200 members. A week later we have more than 300 and an active community of women and professionals alike discussing experiences – and most importantly identifying actions.
Anyone with an interest in maternity experience is welcome to join.
Working with such an inspirational and positive group of people is very rewarding (if tiring!), and it has been a privilege to get to know Flo, Gill, Kath, Emma, Helen, and Susanne (and so many others!) through this work.
I’ve had a book idea in my head for a while, and this week finally completed a draft. As you may have guessed, the book is about Hugo. It needs lots more editing, but I am really proud of it so far. I am a step further towards achieving my dream of becoming a published author, and to help even more people in Hugo’s memory.
A bit of a frivolous one, but I have been kindly gifted a beautiful bag and dress recently. I took inspiration from the fashion session at the recent BlogCamp, and headed out to the street for the photos I need for the post I am writing about the items. Fortunately, Martin is a professional photographer (of dogs, usually!) so I have some excellent quality images for my post. Not feeling self-conscious for my shoot, and having the confidence to approach the brands were big achievements for me. You’ll see the posts soon, but a sneak peek is below.
When I started blogging about Hugo I had no idea about the parenting blogging community, or even that parenting blogging was a ‘thing’. Traffic and rankings are not the reason I blog, but they are important in the context of awareness-raising for Hugo’s Legacy. I hoped to one day break the Tots100 top 200, so sat in shock earlier this week when the latest rankings were released – I was number 92, out of about 8,000 blogs! The ranking was later revised to number 90. A huge thank you to everyone who reads my blog, and for supporting Hugo’s Legacy.
And the side plate of disappointment…
A few weeks ago I was honoured to hear I’d been included in the shortlist in the Inspire category of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. I had allowed myself to get caught up in the awards hubbub, and was disappointed and disheartened yesterday when I learned I had not reached the final.
I put my heart and soul in to this blog, into Hugo’s Legacy, and in to helping others in Hugo’s memory. It has been my purpose, my focus, my reason to get up in the morning.
At first, I took it a bit to heart. A bit like I was being told my work wasn’t good enough. That Hugo was not important enough to be acknowledged.
Rationally, I know that is all nonsense. There are plenty of fabulous, talented bloggers who were not included in the shortlist, or the finals (congratulations to all the finalists). Such is life, it is no reflection on our talent, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, or impact. And, of course, it is the least of the disappointments I have experienced!
I also had to acknowledge to myself that even if I had reached the final, even if I had won, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a winner.
I have this blog because I lost Hugo. There are no winners here, not even with a mantelpiece groaning under the weight of crystal.
As Hayley from Downs Side Up so wisely articulated, the impact a blog has on its audience, and even if it has touched even one person’s life it is a reward. She is so right: I have had plenty of affirmation that Hugo’s Legacy is worthwhile, and I don’t need awards to confirm that (nice as they are).
I know where my emotional energies are better invested.
Word of the week: Achievement