Leigh's dress story


TODAY’S dress story, should probably come with a little warning.


Because it is emotional.

Emotional and incredibly beautiful, and will more than likely bring tears to your eyes.

But it is a dress story that needs to be told, because it offers something of greater value.

Because besides being beautiful, it also brings a little boy to your attention, Hugo, as well as his courageous Mummy, Leigh.

Leigh Kendall is someone whom I am honoured to call a friend.

Someone whom is using her own personal sorrow to transform the lives of others. Someone who is brave, honest and fearless on her own blog to help people come to terms with birth trauma, premature babies and parental grief.

So please do read.

And after you’ve finished, please do pop over to visit Leigh’s incredible blog Headspace Perspective and find out more about her mission. Thank you.

For #HugosLegacy, here is Leigh and her incredible dress story…



By Leigh Kendall

My wardrobe is full of pretty dresses.

I tend not to follow fashion as such, so dresses tend to stay in there until they wear out, or they no longer fit.

There is one dress, however, that is so very precious to me that it will never, ever be thrown away.

In February 2014, I was 24 weeks’ pregnant. I had been feeling a bit unwell with what I thought were standard pregnancy discomforts.

But after a routine visit to my community midwife, I was sent straight to my local hospital, where I was diagnosed with the rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

Put simply, I was told, my organs were failing.

If my baby was not born soon, I would die and my unborn baby would die anyway.

Hugo was born by emergency Caesarean section while I was under general anaesthetic. He weighed just 420 grams, but my ‘Hugo Boss’ (as his nurses nicknamed him) was a feisty little fighter.

Because everything happened so quickly and we were a long way from home, I had very few clothes with me when I went to hospital. And when I was well enough to see Hugo, I quickly realised that I needed outfits that were comfy (especially around my tummy), cool (the neonatal unit is really hot), and easy to get to my boobs because I was expressing my breast milk for Hugo.

So a couple of days after I was discharged, I ventured to the local high street and emerged from New Look with a couple of t-shirts, and a floral tea dress.

The dress soon became a favourite of mine.

It was perfect for my needs: so comfy and easy to wear. And with a deep v-neck, expressing my breast milk didn’t require lots of faffing about, removing layers of clothing.

When Hugo was four weeks old, we were told his underdeveloped lungs were very poorly, and that he was unlikely to survive. However, a course of steroids could give him a chance.

That week was the most incredible of my life as we were finally able to have cuddles with our son.


He would be placed skin-to-skin on our chests for as long as we were able and the floral tea dress was ideal for this. Hugo would be tucked safely into the v-neck for our snuggles.

The joy I felt during those cuddles, finally being able to touch and smell my son properly, is something I shall never forget.

Hugo loved them too – he would trace my skin with his little hand, boogie to my singing, and kick me with his strong little legs.

Sadly, while the steroids initially seemed to be working, a week later the doctors gave us the worst-possible news. They advised withdrawing his treatment, because there was no hope. To continue would be cruel to him, and to us.


That day, I was able to cuddle Hugo for as long as I wanted. We sat together for more than three precious hours.

I did not want to let him go.

Hugo died peacefully skin-to-skin against me, tucked into the dress, later that day.


After, the dress smelled of him. A gorgeous, rich baby boy smell.

I couldn’t bear to wash it. It would have been like washing him away.

During those awful, raw first days after Hugo died I would sit and smell the dress because it helped me feel close to him again.

Eventually the smell subsided and I felt able to put it in the washing machine. I still wear it regularly, and am even wearing it as I type.


I call it my ‘Hugo dress’.

Because I am wearing it in so many of the photos of our cuddles, it helps me feel close to him even though it no longer bears his smell.

And this is why my ‘Hugo’ dress will always be my most valued garment.


Thank you…


Leigh for sharing your emotive story for #HugosLegacy. He has one hell of a Mummy. x

Share your story?


Have YOU got a dress story worth sharing? Perhaps it’s something emotional like Leigh’s story or something that will make us all chuckle. Whatever it is, please don’t be shy and get in touch!

If you want to share a dress that is important to you (for any reason) here’s all the info you need and how to contact me.

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Oh, Leigh, thank you for sharing your beautiful, terrible story and pictures. I don’t think that anything will ever top THAT dress, your son’s dress.

    God Hugo was gorgeous, wasn’t he. That nose!


  • It is so lovely that you could gain comfort from the Hugo dress, it really does conjure up such a nice memory and although it is heartbreaking that Hugo is no longer here, I am glad you have your dress to wear and remind you of that moment. So brave of you to share your story xx

  • This is such a heartbreaking yet beautiful story. There are no words to express how deeply sorry I am that Hugo died. The way you describe your “Hugo Dress” and the comfort it brings you is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this and I wish you all the peace and happiness in the world.

  • You are so brave to share your story. A beautiful boy for a beautiful mummy so sad he has gone too soon xx

  • This story is so truly sad and so beautifully written. It is lovely that you can wear that dress and remember your beautiful boy, Leigh, Your writing is so brave, thank you for sharing, we will all know it is your ‘Hugo Dress’ now when we see it and think of him xxx

  • What a beautiful and heartbreaking post, I couldn’t help the tears welling up in my eyes,, and what an amazing dress – It so lovely to hear that you have your wonderful Hugo dress that will always remind you of those special cuddles.

  • Crying my eyes out reading this moving and beautiful post Leigh. A stunning dress you’ll always treasure, Hugo was so gorgeous and I’m heartbroken for you all. Thank you for being so brave Leigh and sharing this, and for lovely Kate for the platform x

  • Oh Leigh, what a brave and moving piece. You write so eloquently and this has reduced me to tears. Your dress is beautiful and I’m sure will be cherished forever. It’s amazing how something a simple as a piece of clothing can hold such powerful memories. I’m very sentimental, I have pieces of clothing my grandpa and grandma owned. I can’t throw anything away that has emotional attachment to it. Sending lots of love beautiful lady. Xxx

  • Thank you so much Kate once again for sharing Hugo’s story. It is a sad story but one that is so very important to me. I love talking about Hugo, and sharing how wonderful he was. There are such lovely comments too. Important to talk about baby loss – a vital part of #HugosLegacy. Much love xxxx

    • Leigh – it is an honour to have you and Hugo on my blog. Thank you SO much for sharing your beautiful story. You’re a wonderful, courageous woman and I will always be willing to support you and #HugosLegacy. Much love xxx