WHEN Southlander Kat Moses went into labour at 30 weeks into her pregnancy, it was one of the most frightening experiences of her life.
Now, 18 months on with a happy, healthy baby boy, she does not know what she would have done without the help of Invercargill’s Ronald McDonald Family Room at Southland Hospital.
Ms Moses said it was November 9, 2018, when she drove herself to Southland Hospital knowing she was not due to give birth for another 10 weeks.
“I met with my midwife at the hospital and within two hours, I had given birth to Bodhi and he weighed just 1.3kg.”
As Southland Hospital could not care for premature babies born earlier than 32 weeks, she was told Bodhi would have to be taken by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital for specialist care.
Determined to be with her baby, she checked herself out, got in the car and drove to Dunedin Hospital where she re-checked herself in again.
It was there she spent two weeks in the neonatal wing while Bodhi lay in an incubator.
“It was hugely isolating, I had no support network and before I had him I had only been to two Plunket classes. I had no idea what I was doing,” she said.
By week 32, mother and baby were able to return to Southland Hospital for the next eight weeks.
“Helen Walker [from Ronald McDonald Family Room] met me at the hospital and just took me in.
“She was always there as the mother hen for whatever I needed. She knew when I was having a bad day or a good day and supported me. I still think of her as family.”
After spending Christmas and her birthday in Ronald McDonald House, other mothers going through the same experience became her support, she said.
“We laughed together, cried together, it was just so good to be with people who understood.”
She said it was “so special to wake up on Christmas morning and smell a ham cooking in the next room for all the mothers staying there”.
One of the biggest benefits of being in the family room was having the ability to stay in a room next to where her son was receiving treatment.
“The nurse called me one night and said Bodhi was doing a sucking movement with his mouth, which is really unusual at 34 weeks,” she said.
“Because I was only 20 metres away, I was able to go and breastfeed him for a few minutes. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was at home and away from him.”
Ms Moses said most people did not realise how incredible the Ronald McDonald Family Room was.
Although her time at the family room was in the past, she still wanted to give back.
“On Bodhi’s first birthday, instead of him getting presents, I just asked people to donate food and vouchers and that for the mothers at the Family Room.
“We ended up giving them five bags of food and $150 worth of vouchers.”
An employee at SBS Bank, which sponsored the organisation, Ms Moses remained dedicated to being an advocate for the organisation and its staff.
During the month of July, Ronald McDonald House South Island would run its fundraising event, Host a Roast, to raise funds for its Christchurch House and Invercargill Family Room.
In an effort to raise more than $50,000 to support Kiwi families who needed the organisation’s help, families, friends and colleagues were encouraged to host a roast for $20 per person.
To register for Host a Roast, go to www.hostaroast.kiwi.