by Briar Allen
Snip, snip .. Threatening to cut Scott Bennett (holding 4-month-old Raiden) and Levi Watson’s locks are (back, from left) Benjie (11) and Ash Bennett (9). PHOTO: BRIAR ALLEN
A Timaru couple are giving back to those who supported them during the first weeks of their newborn son’s life.
Levi Watson and Scott Bennett plan to shave their heads as a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House, after having to use the foundation’s services themselves when their son Raiden Bennett was taken to Christchurch Hospital soon after he was born.
Miss Watson had to have an emergency Cesarean delivery which was “a surprise to start with”.
They spent five days at home, then back at the hospital as she fell unwell, another six days at home and then Raiden became sick.
“We took him into the hospital after talking on the phone with them and within 20 minutes they told us it was likely that he would be going to Christchurch Hospital.”
Raiden had not been eating and had lost a lot of weight, and had to undergo many tests.
He was found to have an inguinal hernia of the contents of the abdomen through a weak area in the lower abdominal wall.
The hernia can also lead to the bowel twisting and dying.
Miss Watson and Mr Bennett were expecting an ambulance to take them to Christchurch Hospital but were told the helicopter was on the way.
“It was scary. We thought we were going to lose him,” Miss Watson said.
She was not allowed to travel with Raiden in the helicopter. It was her first time being separated from her baby.
“I just remember standing at the helicopter and as it took off I lost it.”
Raiden has since had surgery and is much healthier now, four and a-half months on and back at home with his older brothers Benjie and Ash Bennett.
When Miss Watson is not on maternity leave she is an activities co-ordinator for dementia patients and Mr Bennett is a labourer at a joinery firm.
Even though life is back to normal neither of them will forget that night.
“The first few hours or handful of hours not knowing was pretty scary,” Mr Bennett said.
“For the first few weeks I felt like we couldn’t enjoy Raiden because it was just between being in and out of hospital, and the first three weeks we had spent more time in hospital than at home,” Miss Watson said.
While Raiden was in Christchurch Hospital, they were lucky to be able to use the services of Ronald McDonald House.
“I remember just looking around as they were giving us the tour and I burst into tears because it was like ‘you guys are so great’,” Miss Watson said.
The foundation provides facilities where parents can stay and eat within walking distance of the hospital.
“It was a huge load off of your mind not having to stress about accommodation, food, and stuff like that,” Mr Bennett said.
They encountered other families there. One family had been there for 80 days and another had been there for four weeks and had spent more than 200 days one year in hospital.
They spent a total of three days in Christchurch and were thankful the services were available to them.
“We were surrounded by such great people throughout the whole experience,” Miss Watson said.
After seeing what these services meant to families like theirs they decided to give back to the cause.
Both are going to shave their heads and Mr Bennett is going to shave the beard he has had for about four years.
Miss Watson has had her dreadlocks for two and a-half years and is nervous about losing them as she has used them as a mobile to help calm Raiden down when he gets fussy.
“I won’t be able to do that anymore. Maybe I will have to use a feather duster or something,” she joked.
The idea came from Miss Watson who was surprised Mr Bennett decided he would do it too.
“Because I have always said that if I was going to get rid of my dreads, I would shave them off but it would have to be like, do it for a cause, and I really didn’t expect him to chirp up and go
Miss Watson thought he was joking until they received their first donations and he said “I guess we really do have to do it now”.
The pair have already raised $1300 on their Givealittle page.
Miss Watson said the amount already raised would cover the costs of many meals for people using the services of the foundation.
They are shaving their heads on June 23 at 4pm. If you would like to support them you can donate to their page at fundraise.rmhc.org.nz/fundraisers/leviwatson.
If you would like to support them on the day contact Miss Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org