Leigh Kendall delivered her son Hugo at just 24 weeks’ gestation due to the rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Hugo fought hard for 35 days but sadly he was too small, and premature.
Since Hugo’s death, Leigh has been using her blog, Headspace Perspective to raise awareness of baby loss, positive pregnancy, and related issues.
Leigh has also used her years of NHS communications experience to set up an organisation, Bright in Mind and Spirit, aimed at improving healthcare communication, with a specific focus on neonatal care and information for bereaved parents.
She has recently given talks at hospitals about what went well, and what could be improved to help staff learn how to make sure other parents’ experiences are as good as they can be.
Describe a typical day for you?
At the moment, I’m on maternity leave. Most days start with a cup of tea while I check emails and social media etc. I will usually hit the laptop and write some posts. Depending on how I am feeling that day, I might go to the gym, or meet a friend for a chat.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
My little boy, Hugo. Despite his small size, Hugo inspired so many people with his strength, fight and determination.
Linked to that, while I feel uncomfortable about the success my blog has had this year (I’ve blogged for years, but it is only since Hugo’s death that people other than my family and friends have read it), I feel proud that my posts have helped so many other people.
Fellow bereaved parents have got in touch to thank me for putting in to words what they could not articulate, while people have not lost a baby feel they now know the better things to say to a bereaved parent.
I also feel a sense of pride that doctors and nurses have said they will review their practise as a result of my hospital talks.
What’s in your handbag?
The usual things: purse, phone, keys, hairbrush, lip balm, pen. One of Hugo’s little knitted hats always goes with me in my handbag wherever I go, too.
What are your ambitions in life?
To use my writing talents and my NHS communications background to make a positive difference to the lives of families who have a premature baby, especially those whose babies die. I would also like to raise awareness of pregnancy conditions such as preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome so expectant mums are more aware of the signs and symptoms – it’s vital, because mums and babies can and do die from these illnesses.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Hmm, that is a difficult one because if there is one thing I have learnt this year, you never know what is around the corner.
However, if I have my way I would like to have a little brother or sister for Hugo.
I would also like to be actively working on achieving my ambitions – although at this point in time I don’t know what form that will take.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Write, write, and then write some more. It’s the best way to improve your writing. If you are able to, invest in a writing course – it is an excellent way to hone your skills and get a professionals’ feedback. There are good distance-learning courses available online.
Be curious, inquisitive, ask questions – why are things that way? Can they be done better? How can I use my skills to make a difference?
Finally, happiness is…
Without wanting to conclude on a damp note, happiness is rather elusive at the moment. However, things that put a smile on my face are people complimenting me on how gorgeous Hugo is, or saying that a post I have written has helped them in some way.
Oh, and pretty dresses, wine and chocolate!