If We Were Having Coffee – Paying It Forward

Dear Leigh

A few months ago a blogger wrote to me when I was at the lowest point in my life since Squidge was born. She’d read a post entitled ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ and wanted to write her own version and yet she didn’t know who to invite for said coffee until she read my blog and learned how difficult I was finding life.

I did not know this other blogger; I only vaguely recognised her having occasionally read her blog and yet she used her blog to reach out to me and to let me know that I wasn’t alone in the world or in my feelings. She bought tears to my eyes and she helped me to pick myself up and carry on when I didn’t think I had the strength to or even knew how to.

I know that you’re not alone; that you have a partner, family, friends and a whole host of people who visit your blog to support you and for you to lean on. I didn’t know you when you were pregnant, when you were so ill with HELLP syndrome, when Hugo was born or when he died. I didn’t discover your blog until I started writing mine and you were one of the first people outside of my family to read it and tell me your thoughts.

I do not know what it is to lose a child and I’m under no illusions that I could imagine even a fraction of the grief and sadness that you’ve experienced and that you carry with you still. What I do know is what it’s like to stand on the other side; to be the person who has broken that dreadful news, knowing that your words have changed someone’s life in a way that you would not wish upon anyone. I know what it’s like to see love, grief, anger, pain,loss and heartbreak in the expression of one person as they look down at their baby and know that they have to let them go even though every fibre of their being screams at them to do something, anything to save them.

There were so many things that I wanted to say to you when we met but I was shy and scared and rather overwhelmed by being in such a busy, noisy place with so many people that I didn’t know. I wanted to talk to you but I was afraid that you’d think that I was too intrusive or full on; wanting to talk to you about things that must be difficult for you when you barely know me beyond what I write and publish on my blog.

I wanted to hear you talk about Hugo for as long as you wanted; to say his name, show me the photographs you have of him and tell me about what a huge personality he had for such a tiny boy. I wanted you to be able to talk, knowing that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable talking about his life and that he died and that I wouldn’t try to change the subject.

So I’m inviting you to have a (virtual) coffee (or in my case, hot chocolate) with me, somewhere cosy and private, maybe with snuggly blankets and comfy cushions so that I can say all the things that I wanted to say to you, that I still want to say to you but I just didn’t know how to at the time.

I want to tell you that whenever I read your blog, especially when you write about Hugo I can hear your voice inside my head and it stabs me right in the heart. The tears come to my eyes, I feel the lump rising in my throat because I can feel the all-encompassing love that you have for him and that you show that love to others so beautifully that no one could ever doubt it.

I want to tell you what a huge inspiration you are to me, writing such a truthful, honest, emotional, heart-felt blog and throwing yourself heart and soul into conferences and campaigns with the sole purpose of improving maternity and neonatal care for everyone who ever needs it. You had every right to crawl under you duvet and refuse to face the world again and I’m sure that there were days when that was all you wanted to do. Except that you didn’t, and if you didn’t then I can’t and if you somehow found the strength to carry on then I have to as well.

I want to tell you how I look to you to help me be a better nurse; someone who knows what to say and when to say it, who knows how to comfort and support bereaved parents when the worst thing imaginable has happened and the only thing standing between them and the gaping void that their tiny child has left behind is me.

I want to tell you that whenever I see the stars at night or sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ to Squidge I think of you and Hugo. I hold Squidge that little bit closer, cuddle him that little bit tighter and I remind myself that I will tell him all about you and Hugo and all the other babies that I hold in my heart when he’s old enough to understand.

I want to tell you all these things but I also want to tell you that I don’t expect you to be all these things.

I know that you may look positive; that your voice may be animated and that you may have a smile on your face but I know that these things don’t mean than you are ‘fine’. I do not expect you to be ‘noble’ in your grief; to try and hide the emotional mess and turmoil because society expects you to cope, be brave and carry on. Society may expect these things from you but I hope you know that I do not.

Finally, I want you to know that even though I can’t understand how your life must be, I know that you would rather be none of these things if it meant that you had Hugo in your arms.

So I hope you’ll join me for that coffee, virtual for now but maybe in the not too distant future we’ll be able to manage a real one.

Much Love

Louise

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Louise is a full time mum and a part time neonatal nurse who has battled depression for many years but particularly during her pregnancy.

She blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss. 

In 2015 she was shortlisted in the ‘Fresh Voice’ category for the BIB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards and the ‘Bereavement Worker’ category for the Butterfly Awards. She was also one of the keynote speakers at BritMums Live reading ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ which was her account of caring for a premature baby on the day that he died. 

25 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee – Paying It Forward

  1. helloredds says:

    What a kind word, Louise. I don’t know Leigh, but it sounds like she has ministered through her pain to you. What a great friend to have!

    And, your words are sweet. I know what you wrote will mean a great deal to her.

    Thanks for just being kind!

    Came over on the Twinkly Tuesday Link, and I’m glad to find your site.
    Blessings,
    Melanie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thenthefunbegan says:

    This is such a lovely thing to write to Leigh Louise. Doing your job – well, I just can’t imagine. It takes a special kind of person to not only be strong enough to be the breaker of such unthinkably awful news, but also to want to reach out further, beyond those four walls and have that virtual coffee. I’m so sorry I didn’t even realise that you were at BML and unfortunately I missed the keynotes but I went back to read the post you read out and again it made me cry – it must have been incredibly emotional in that room for the time it took you to read it. Xx #thetruthabout

    Liked by 1 person

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      It was much harder to read than I thought it would be; I didn’t realise quite so many people would tear up and then seeing them all set me off. It would have been lovely to meet you at BritMums but there’s always next year 🙂

      Like

  3. Hannah says:

    What a beautifully written Post. I hope you both get your real coffee date some time soon because I can see you would have such a wonderful time and I reckon become very good friends. Leigh is also inspiration to me and I enjoy her blog and her talk of Hugo very much. I too could happily listen to her talk of her baby boy and see his photos without a single thought for changing the topic of conversation. You are also a wonderful person and I hope you are feeling brighter xx #twinklytuesday

    Liked by 1 person

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you so much Hannah 🙂 Leigh and I are working on meeting up soon, it’s just so difficult being in two different places with work and all sorts of other commitments. We will manage it though, I’m determined!!

      Like

  4. Leigh Kendall says:

    My lovely Louise…I first read this yesterday on the train on the way home from my holiday. I was flabbergasted – in a good way by the beauty and kindness of your words. I wanted to let the post sink in a bit before commenting to make sure I had the words to do it justice. That Hugo helps inform the way you care for your families is wonderful and humbling.

    I remember quite clearly when I first read Twinkle Twinkle. At last, I thought, someone else who really gets it.

    I loved meeting you at BML, and I’m sorry we weren’t able to talk for longer – it’s so hectic it’s not really the place for deep conversation anyway I’d love to have a real hot chocolate with you and talk about Hugo and all sorts of other things too – let’s make it happen. Much love xxxx

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      You are so very very welcome Leigh 🙂
      We will definitely have that hot chocolate, I’m determined that I’m going to make it happen.
      You and Hugo are both an inspiration and I always think back to your writing when I look at how I can be a better nurse. It’s yet another way that you share his legacy and that his memory lives on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hannah Budding Smiles says:

    I think that this is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. Hugo was due a month and a day before my son Toby. By the time Toby arrived, Hugo had been born and had died but I didn’t know him or Leigh at that point.
    In the year since Toby arrived I have been honoured to spend time with Leigh and talk about Hugo as she played with Toby. It was beautiful and heartbreak simultaneously but I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for her.
    Sorry, I’m rambling but basically I love this post, I love how you’ve been inspired by Leigh and I’ll bet you’re an amazing nurse xx

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you Hannah; it’s one of the posts that I’ve taken the most time over and that I’ve gone back and changed things over and over until I was happy with they way they sounded.
      I’m not sure about the amazing nurse bit; I do my best but at the end of the day I’m only me.

      Like

  6. Lucy Bishop says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful blog post! It bought a lump to my throat, and was everything I wish I could say to Leigh as well, just much more eloquently put than I’ve ever managed. She is an incredible woman, mother and friend, I’ve only recently started getting to know her, but she is an inspiration to me too & a beautiful person through & through. Lucy xxx (Mrs Bishop’s Bakes & Banter)

    Like

  7. mummascribbles says:

    This is such an absolutely beautiful post. It is so lovely to think that Hugo lives on in so many ways, and especially in the way that he helps you to do an even better job than you already do. If anything as dreadful like this happened to me, I would so wish to have a lovely person like you to help me through it. You are such a wonderful person, I’m so glad I got to give you a massive hug at BML xxx Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you so much and it was lovely to meet you at BritMums live too. Sadly I didn’t get to meet everyone on my list as I found the whole thing rather overwhelming but hopefully I’ll manage to see everyone next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Caro | The Twinkles Mama says:

    Aaah this is SO beautiful. Leigh is one of the loveliest women I’ve met in a long time. Her story is so heartbreaking but sadly — as you well know — it’s not isolated. I’ve said it before but I think you do the hardest job in the world — you’re amazing. I wish I’d met you at BML. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      I really wish I’d met you too; there were a few people I didn’t manage to meet and by the time the keynotes had finished I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I just needed to go home. Hopefully I’ll manage to meet you next year though 🙂

      Like

  9. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) says:

    What a beautiful post and such heartfelt caring words from the heart of someone who sounds like she is an amazing NICU nurse, sent directly to the heart of a bereaved mother. I read Leigh’s blog often and have been blessed to meet her a couple of times in person – she is a wonderful, amazing lady who does so much to give a voice to other bereaved mothers and her little Hugo was a beautiful little boy who lives on in the hearts of many who never met him. I sobbed the whole way through your keynote speech and was in awe of how you managed to read it without doing so yourself. It brought back my own memories of being with my daughter in PICU and made my heart break for those whose journeys ended in loss. You do an amazing job supporting parents in those situations. I hope you and Leigh get to meet for a real coffee (or hot chocolate!) very soon! xx

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you so much Louise (from one Louise to another).
      I find it so much easier to write to people than I do to actually talk to them; it makes me feel a bit guilty but then I think that so long as they receive the message one way or another it can’t be too awful.
      I was exhausted after reading my keynote speech and my voice got all wobbly halfway through; I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish it without sobbing.
      Leigh and I are indeed planning to meet up and we’re determined we’re going to make it happen.

      Like

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