The Tommy’s Awards is an annual event, held to celebrate those working to make a difference in the lives of families across the UK. This year Seraphine maternity was incredibly proud to sponsor the Mum’s Voice Award – a prize to honour one special mum with the courage to share her story, bringing hope and reassurance to others going through similar experiences. Allow us to introduce Leigh Kendall – blogger at www.headspace-perspective.com, health communication advocate and winner of the Mum’s Voice Award 2016….
1) First off, congratulations! How does it feel to have won the Seraphine Maternity Mum’s Voice Award?
Thank you! Winning the Seraphine Mum’s Voice Award was a proud but bittersweet moment. I am proud that my writing and campaigning is making a difference, and that people are paying attention to it – but I would give it all back in an instant to have Hugo back in my arms.
2) Tell us about Hugo and Hugo’s legacy.
Hugo was born in February 2014, 16 weeks prematurely. He had to be born then because I had the rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. The only cure is for the baby to be born, otherwise both mum and baby are likely to die. Hugo was a gorgeous, perfectly-formed little boy. He fought so hard and was pretty feisty, which earned him the nickname ‘Hugo Boss’ from his nurses. Sadly he died aged 35 days – he was too small, and premature. I am utterly heartbroken.
I started Hugo’s Legacy as a way of channelling my grief, and celebrating Hugo’s life. Hugo’s legacy focuses on raising awareness of HELLP syndrome (few people have heard of it; I didn’t know it existed until I was diagnosed); support for parents of premature babies, and for bereaved parents.
While nothing could have been done differently in terms of the care Hugo and I were given – nothing would have changed the outcome – there were many times when communication was insensitive or lacking, making a difficult time even more stressful. Helping health professionals understand the importance of effective communication is another key part of Hugo’s legacy.
Hugo weighed only 420 grams when he was born (about the same as a tin of baked beans). He shows that there is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on the world.
3) We love your blog Headspace Perspective. Do you feel that blogging has helped you? How?
Thank you so much! Blogging became my release after Hugo died. I was angry with the world, that this had happened to me, that I didn’t have Hugo. Writing about HELLP syndrome, about Hugo, and about life after his death was cathartic, especially as it was difficult to find support. As a proud though heartbroken mummy, I also use the blog to tell the world about my beautiful boy.
Headspace Perspective gave me a focus, a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. It has also introduced me to wonderful, kind, supportive people from all over the world.
4) The style section of your blog is fantastic – how important is it to you to maintain your sense of style?
That’s brilliant, thank you! I’ve always loved clothes and style, but for many years lacked the confidence to wear the outfits I admired. After Hugo died (and my own close call with death) I realised life is too short and that I should just wear what I like and rock the outfits! For me, my style is about celebrating the beauty of life through wearing bright colour, and celebrating who I am. Maintaining my sense of style in my grief has also been about an act of self-care, telling myself I am worth the effort.
5) A little bird told us that you have a favourite Seraphine maternity dress…
Yes that’s right! When I was pregnant I bought myself the knot front maternity dress in fuschia. It’s the one made famous by Kate Middleton in the first photo with Prince George. I love pink, and the cut and colour of the dress are so flattering. I loved wearing it, and admiring my growing bump in it. The dress got a lot of wear during Hugo’s life – it was easy to express my breast milk for Hugo while wearing it, and the bright colour brought a bit of joy to my day. I also wore the dress to Hugo’s funeral – we had asked our guests to wear bright colours in celebration of his life.
6) Can you sum up your signature look in 3 words?
Colourful, classic, and curvy!
7) We are confiscating your makeup bag – you’re allowed to keep 3 essential cosmetics. What do you choose?
Ooh that’s scary, I love my make-up! I think my three most essential items would be a tinted moisturiser, mascara, and lip balm.
8) Who inspires you?
Besides Hugo, my favourite inspirational person is Rosa Parks. She is the woman who defied segregation by refusing to let a white man take her seat on the bus. Rosa championed what she believed in with a quiet, dignified confidence.
9) You look great in our Just for Love charity tee – what do you think of the campaign?
Thank you, the Just for Love charity tee is gorgeous. The campaign is invaluable because it is fundraising for a new medical research centre that will help prevent miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth. There surely can be no better cause than saving babies’ lives. Losing your much-wanted, much-loved baby is utterly devastating, it is something I would not wish on anyone.
10) What advice would you like to pass on to other mums?
Be aware of your body while you are pregnant and don’t hesitate to seek help if you are ever worried – you are better safe than sorry. Being a mum is not always easy, whether or not your baby is in your arms – but do your best to celebrate and enjoy every moment.
To find out more check out Leigh’s blog Headspace-perspective and follow her on Instagram @leighakendall