A Successful Week

This week, I am happy to report has felt successful for me personally, and for my blog:


For the past few months I have been making a concerted effort with my food intake and exercise. I’ve been doing particularly well with my running, doing regular 5km distances on the treadmill at the gym. I’m feeling the benefits physically: I’m feeling more toned, lighter, and generally better. The number on the scale isn’t going down as quickly as I would like, but slow and steady wins the race for sustainable lifestyle changes. And the main thing is the number is going down!

Sadly my gym is closing next week. It is part of a hotel, and the hotel has decided it is no longer profitable. It is a shame because it is a small, friendly gym with a good community atmosphere – and it is much cheaper than the regular chain gyms. As we are heading in to the better weather, I am going to be exercising outside for the time being. I invested in a Fitbit to keep track of my activity and help keep myself motivated. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a snazzier sort of pedometer that can also record your total active minutes, and your sleep. It can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and it stores your records on the Fitbit app where you can also track your food and fluid intake. It arrived a couple of days ago, and so far so good – the app is really good; I like how the band vibrates and flashes when I’ve reached my activity goal – and it’s bright pink, so it’s pretty!

Bright pink Fitbit

Bright pink Fitbit

I am delighted that my garden is flourishing in the spring sunshine. I was especially pleased to see the forget-me-nots doing so well, after thinking the seeds had been annihilated last year. Many of the wildflowers are sprouting now, and I’m looking forward to even more vibrant colour in the garden.

The Blog

My blog has been an invaluable retreat. However, much as I enjoy writing for the sake of writing, I had to reflect my blogging schedule was becoming rather wearing. There were times that I found I was forcing myself to write through grief fog, even though it took me much longer than it should have, and I didn’t have to write it. As much as blogging is a wonderful therapy, that kind of behaviour isn’t healthy for me.

I came up with few ideas to help sort myself out.  I find I have so much to say about things, and my head is often bursting with inspiration. So, the first is Sunday Thought, which launched this week. It’s a simple concept, where I will write a few lines about what I think about a quote or a saying. Brevity and words from the top of my head is key here, rather than pushing myself too hard.

The second idea, Life After… came about after reflecting everything that I have survived in the past year. In the immediate aftermath of Hugo’s death, I didn’t want to believe people who said things would get not better necessarily, but different, and so they have. I wanted to offer that hope and reassurance to other people. I was pleased to have people getting in touch to take part, and the first guest post will be published next Tuesday. If you would like to feature, or know someone who might (anyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a blogger), please do get in touch. I hope the series helps make a difference to other people’s lives.

The third idea is a bit of fun, and a bit of much-needed regular light relief for me. It will be launched tomorrow…watch this space!

I was proud to achieve one of my ambitions earlier this year by becoming a Huffington Post blogger. Most of my posts for them have appeared on the front page of the relevant section (lifestyle, parenting), and this time I was a featured blogger – and on the front page of the whole site, too. The article was about how I deal with seeing the many pregnancy and baby photos on Facebook; it is not something that is openly talked about. The response I have had shows that it is helpful for other mums in a similar position to be open about these things. It is an excellent boost for the profile of Hugo’s Legacy, too.

Talking of the Huffington Post, it has been a successful week for fellow bloggers. Em from Brummy Mummy of 2 was also a featured blogger alongside me, and Katie, Katy, Aby and Amy have also recently become HuffPost bloggers too. It’s fabulous to see these lovely ladies going for it and enjoying success, too.

Featured Bloggers...I like the Emma Watson quote on the right, too.

Featured Bloggers…I like the Emma Watson quote on the right, too.

Earlier this week I was approached by BBC World Service to appear on a radio programme. I declined because the topic wasn’t right, but I hope they will ask me again with another issue. The producer found me through social media, so it’s fascinating to think who is observing. The request felt like a big success because it’s the kind of PR approaches I wanted – to talk to a wide audience on such a prestigious platform about Hugo’s Legacy would be incredible (thankfully I haven’t had any baby product offers for a while).

The Reading Residence


This week has been about self-care. And about time, too.

Where I live, we have been fortunate to enjoy some beautiful spring sunshine, and it has been very warm indeed. Despite my reservations about spring, I have now been enjoying the array of flowers and blossom, and trying to see them as symbols from Hugo.

Beautiful blossom.

Beautiful blossom.

On Monday evening, I found myself thinking on that day twelve months earlier I had last held Hugo, last sung to him, last read to him. I had last looked at his beautiful face, last stroked his lovely soft hair. It was the last time I had seen my gorgeous baby.

I miss Hugo so very much.

Tuesday marked the first anniversary of Hugo’s funeral. The last of the first anniversaries. Tuesday’s glorious sunshine mirrored the weather of the same day last year. I visited Hugo’s garden, and found it hard to believe that my baby had already been there for a whole year. The windmills and solar-powered butterfly were spinning away in the strong breeze, and combined with the toys, stars and vibrant flowers made his garden seem full of life and activity. The new little stones in the hexagonal planter were sparkling in the sunshine, but the camera doesn’t really pick it up.

Hugo's garden - I captured the shadow of the solar-powered butterfly on the wall of the planter.

Hugo’s garden – I captured the shadow of the solar-powered butterfly on the wall of the planter.

Hugo's toys, and the sparkly stones.

Hugo’s toys, and the sparkly stones.

The day of Hugo’s funeral was a celebration of life, and love. Hugo’s first birthday was spent at the laptop getting #HugosLegacy trending (with the help of so many wonderful people); the first anniversary of his death was spent sprucing up his garden.

This anniversary was about love for me. Self-care. As well as visiting Hugo in his garden on Tuesday, I tried to keep myself busy with various things. I went to the gym and had my nails done with pretty new sunshine colours. I sat in the garden with my book, which to be honest I found difficult to get in to – and ended up falling asleep.

New nail colour.

New nail colour.

A sleep in the sunshine is restorative. A bit like being that solar-powered butterfly in Hugo’s garden.

Self-care doesn’t solve everything, nor does it make things better. But feeling revived and a bit more full of life, even if only for a while is good, so I’m aiming to do more of it.


The Reading Residence

I Am The Mother of All Mothers

The Mother of All Mothers.

A message of hope for the grieving heart.

This beautiful book, by fellow bereaved mama Angela Miller delivers on its promise.

You Are The Mother of All Mothers, by Angela Miller

You Are The Mother of All Mothers, by Angela Miller

While a year on from Hugo’s death the grief is not as acute or raw as it once was, the pain remains. While, a year on, the feelings of guilt: that I did not do enough to protect Hugo, or to stop him dying, or that my illness and his death were in some way a punishment for misdeeds have diminished, those feelings remain.

I had bought spot for Hugo on the memorial page (with a copy of the book) at the end of last year, and eagerly awaited its arrival.

Almost as if it knew when it was most needed, the book arrived on a day shortly after the first anniversary of Hugo’s death, on a day when the presence of this ever-lasting grief and the knowledge that the life of a bereaved mother is forever was a heavy, exhausting weight. As Angela says in the book, “It is the heaviest, most torturous burden there is.”

Me and Hugo, on the day he died.

Me and Hugo, on the day he died.

The book is simple, yet profound. Simple is good for a brain steeped in grief-fog. Too many books about child loss waffle on and on, and are overly sentimental (‘unicorns farting rainbows’, as I like to call it) meaning I gained little benefit from them.

Angela’s short but so sweet nuggets of wisdom act, as promised, as a balm against the feelings of guilt, and the seemingly bottomless pit of pain.

The profundity of her words cut through my heartbreak, fought through myexhaustion to soothe the very facets of what hurts the most. Words that can come only from a mother who has also lost a child, who understands the depth of the hurt, the pain, the eternal torment.

Every page is meaningful, but I would like to share with you pages that I found particularly resonant:

To choose the pain all over again.

To choose the pain all over again.

Keep breathing, keep fighting.

Keep breathing, keep fighting, keep believing.

Superhero Mama.

Superhero Mama.


Angela’s words of reassurance: that Hugo’s death is not my fault, it is no punishment for misdeeds, that I could not possibly have done more were words I very badly needed to read. While I have been told similar words countless times since Hugo’s death, they reached those parts of my heart, my soul, my mind like the biggest, most comforting hug.

Short, simple, succinct, pulling no punches – from someone who truly gets it.

Every page is beautifully illustrated with calming colours.

It is a book to sit and read in the future for comfort and hope, when such words are most needed. For this journey of grief is forever.

I am proud that Hugo’s name features on the ‘In Loving Memory of…’ among other much-loved, much-missed children from all around the world.

Hugo's name on the 'In Loving Memory' page.

Hugo’s name on the ‘In Loving Memory’ page.

I first became aware of Angela and her work at last year’s Butterfly Awards (I was honoured to be shortlisted in the author/blogger category). Angela won the online support category for A Bed For My Heart, and her acceptance speech (read by a toastmaster; Angela lives in the US) was utterly beautiful. Paraphrased from memory, it read “There are no winners in baby loss. Each of us has to watch other children exceed the age of our lost babies, and other children doing things our babies will never do.

Following the event, I checked out Angela’s Facebook page – anyone suffering the heartbreak of child loss may find the words of comfort and range of other plentiful resources helpful.

While nothing can ever take away the pain of not having Hugo in my arms, this book is something that eases that pain, just a tiny bit. Anything that eases pain of this magnitude is a great gift, a comfort, a balm for my broken heart.

It gives stokes my reserves of inner strength, will help rekindle my fighting spirit, encourage me to be more kind to myself.

For I fought for my child, I fight still.

I love Hugo in death as I did during his life.

I am a superhero Mama.

I am the mother of all mothers.

Pretty Things

This week has been another challenging one. If you have read the posts I have published this week, you will get an idea of how it is has been challenging. Rather than rehash why the week has been horrible, I have chosen for this post to focus on the pretty things that have featured in my week.

Last Saturday I got a lovely surprise, with some beautiful flowers from two amazing friends. I have not yet met Vicki from Honest Mum, or Katie from Pouting in Heels, but I feel honoured to have got to know them through blogging. Vicki and Katie sent the flowers to say they were thinking of me. The flowers meant so much; I was genuinely incredibly touched. This is another example of the beauty of the blogging world: I am in touch with so many wonderful, kind people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have met otherwise.

The flowers are a collection of pink, red and yellow roses, and white, purple and yellow freesias. The freesias have been flowering during the course of the week, and have the most divine scent. I enjoy looking at them and taking a moment to smell them every time I pass my dining table.

The flowers on the day they arrived.

The flowers on the day they arrived.

Freesias in full bloom.

Freesias in full bloom.

I enjoy getting my nails done; having gel nails is my little treat to myself. I used to paint my nails myself, but I am pretty rubbish, usually applying the polish too thickly, getting it all over my fingers, and even when applying a quick-dry top coat doing other things too quickly and smudging it. Very frustrating. Gel nails are wonderful because they are dry immediately (that took a couple of goes to get used to!) and they don’t chip. They last about three weeks or so, as they grow out. I see a lovely lady who does gel nails from home. We always have a bit of a giggle too, which is fab.

This week I got a pretty purple with purple sparkle over, with an accent grey with silver sparkle over on both my ring fingers. I do like a bit of sparkle! The purple is a lovely bright spring shade (feeling optimistic), while the silver is sparkly like a glitter ball – they set each other off perfectly.

New nails, with my pretty fingerless gloves I wear to protect my chilly hands while typing.

New nails, with my pretty fingerless gloves I wear to protect my chilly hands while typing.

Yesterday saw a trip to the opticians for me. It was a regular two year check up. I have astigmatism, which is a fairly common problem that means the cornea is an irregular shape (curved more like a rugby ball than a football). It means that without my glasses, the world is a bit blurry and out of focus. With glasses, it is like seeing the world in super-duper HD.

The check-up revealed that I needed a much stronger prescription, because the astigmatism has worsened significantly. The issue tends to worsen as we age. The optician recommended I wear glasses all the time, to help prevent straining my eyes further. I’ve been booked in for a free contact lens trial next week, which will be interesting!

I don’t mind wearing glasses; I’ve been wearing them since I was about 12. Luckily, frames have come on in leaps and bounds since my original late ’80s standard NHS issue ones, and there are lots of pretty ones to choose from.

The sweet assistant (probably in her early 20s) who helped me choose made me laugh: I rejected a pair she suggested as ‘too ’80s’, and she said she thought retro was fashionable. “Not if you remember it the first time around”, I replied – goodness I feel old!

I spent ages choosing – if I am going to be wearing them all the time, and in public, they have to be right! So many pairs were tried on, and my final selection was tried on with hair up and hair down, to be sure they looked right. I was tempted by a couple of designer pairs, but in the end chose Boots ones. I figured the lenses are going to be the same quality, and with the designer frames you are paying lots more money for the name. It also meant I could get a second pair (there was an offer on too) so I can change my look. One pair is a deep purple, while the other is brown tortoiseshell. They are both a cat’s eye shape.

I collect them next week – let’s hope I still like them!

Fortunately, besides the increased prescription my overall eye health is fine. This was a relief because I have read of other women who had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome as severely as me, who have been left with permanent eye problems, particularly concerning the retina.

In that context, I won’t complain about the astigmatism, particularly as it is easily remedied with glasses.

The 20 minute walk to my appointment yesterday took place amidst heavy snowfall – I couldn’t believe it when I looked out of the window. I wrapped up to brave it. The snow was blowing in my face, but it was actually quite pretty, especially as they were big flakes, swirling around.

Snow that has fallen overnight has settled, and the garden looks pretty, all sparkling white.


 Word of the Week – Pretty

The Reading Residence

Writing My Grief


I started writing about my grief for Hugo about a month after he died. While I have been open about my grief in my posts on this blog, I have held back an awful lot, too.

For most of last year, I felt very disconnected from my grief. I felt like I couldn’t indulge my grief for a variety of reasons: that doing so would mean ‘wasting’ valuable days of my life; and that if I truly felt my grief, I would collapse, fall apart and never be able to be put together again.

My grief was kept shut away tightly in a box. Not dealing with grief doesn’t make it go away, of course.

I was pleased to be invited to take part in Megan Devine’s creative grief writing course, Writing Your Grief. Megan is a licensed psychotherapist, writer, and grief advocate, who was widowed.

Megan regularly writes on the topic of grief, with many articles published in the Huffington Post that I have found very helpful.

Writing Your Grief is a 30 day online course. Every day during the course, you are emailed a prompt designed to help you connect your grief, explore ways to be kind to yourself, and engage with how you are loved. Participants publish their responses to the prompts in a private Facebook group.

The course is challenging emotionally. For me, it involved engaging with parts of my grief I did not want to think about. On several days, I would read the prompt and think I just don’t want to go there. However, the prompt would niggle at me, and eventually I would sit down and just write.

‘Just write’ – that was so liberating. I earn my living as a writer, and I am used to structured writing: a coherent beginning, middle, and end. I am used to thinking about the nuance of the words I use, and their impact on the reader. For the first time, I was able to write for me. When writing my responses to the prompts, I let my fingers find the right keys to type the words my heart wanted to write. No self-censorship, no self-editing. Just let the feelings flow.

Through writing the prompts, I discovered parts of my grief that I had not realised were there. Looking at things from a different angle, as well as allowing my heart to write what it felt, rather than what my brain thought it ‘should’, helped me explore my feelings. My anger that this happened to me, and to Hugo; that I have to live without my son forever, that I am going to be carrying my grief around forever.

Conversely, I also discovered love through the prompts: love for myself, a need for kindness towards myself, and what Hugo would want for me. Those are going to take a while to implement, but connecting with those feelings is important progress for me.

Only the participants of that month’s course have access to the private Facebook group. The love and support I received from the others, and that we all gave each other was wonderful. To be able to spill out all my feelings – raw, angry, visceral – and not have any judgement, no one trying to make it better, no one saying I ‘should’ do something – was so valuable. It helped me feel a little less alone in my grief. Everyone is very giving, understanding, and respectful – they all ‘get it’.

There were a few days where I didn’t do the prompt – I just couldn’t get my mind in the right place to engage with it. That was ok – there is no pressure to participate, or to submit a response to a prompt on the same day. It’s not the kind of course where you get a certificate at the end, or good or bad marks (or any marks at all). It is your grief. There is no right or wrong. You can work at your own pace.

After the course, you are invited to join the private alumni Facebook group, which is an incredible source of ongoing mutual support.

Writing Your Grief is not a cure for grief, and nor is it intended to be. Indeed, now I am connected with my grief for Hugo I feel in greater emotional pain than before – but I know it is part of the process of grief. It cannot be avoided.

The course is a way of connecting with your grief, giving your grief a voice, writing about the love for the person you are grieving for, and love for yourself. There were times when it was exhausting, but I am glad to have done it.

I am grateful to Megan and to all the writers in my group.  I highly recommend the course to anyone who would like to explore their grief through writing and creative practise.