A devoted father, who covered his back with a giant tattoo to commemorate five tragic babies he lost, is now planning to give his son, who had Down syndrome and only lived 27 days, a special tribute to his tombstone Honoring grandmother.
While David Bennett, 54, had only the pleasure of holding his son William, who was born from Downs with bowel and heart complications, once in his short life he will never be forgotten thanks to the beautiful ink that took 45 tedious hours to complete become complete.
David – known as Benny – helped tattoo artist Kayley Henderson create the image in which his family looks up to William. Four babies that he and his wife Kath lost to a miscarriage are also portrayed as stars.
And when the 43-year-old full-time mother Katherine, who came up with the tattoo idea for Benny’s 50th birthday, published a picture of the ink on Facebook on the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 of this year, the response was overwhelming .
Katherine of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear said, “People said it was a stunning piece of art. It was great to get nice feedback.
“William is buried nearby with my mother Mary Cowey, who died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 45. I immediately said, ‘I want William with my mother’ – there he had to be.”
Katherine added, “We kept moving the engraving of his name on the headstone. We are going to have to do it this year after the reaction to the tattoo and with Covid which is causing so much heartache to people. “
Ironically, the fuel company driver Benny, who has two grown children, Kayleigh, 33, a travel agent and chef Daniel, 29, had a vasectomy at 25 and thought he didn’t want any more children.
Then he met Katherine in 2003 and had it undone a year later.
Despite being told he had only a 15 percent chance of fathering another child, he and Katherine had four surviving children – twins Josh and Steph, 15, Cameron, 13, Hannah (11), and Alexander ( four) together tragic William and four miscarriages.
And, according to Katherine, you couldn’t find a more loving father who came up with the 50th birthday tattoo because he was still finding it so difficult to cope with all the loss – especially when it came to William.
She said, “He wanted something so that he could feel close to William forever.”
Katherine added, “We have a small memorial in our garden and a cherub statue, but he wanted something different.
“We went for the tattoo – but it took an awful long time to get done because we would run out of money and have to stop, save, and then Kayley would get on with it when we could afford a little more.
“But she was very nice because when she heard our story about our losses, she agreed to do so at a discounted rate of £ 2,600 when she normally charges £ 500 a day. He had quite a few long sessions. It also needs to heal between sessions so it took about six months from start to finish. “
Katherine had also had four miscarriages before William died on November 30, 2015.
While they are represented by stars on the tattoo, it also shows their cradling “rainbow baby” Alexander, who was born after their losses, and their four older children, who look up to William as angels in the sky at sunset, as well as Benny’s two oldest children.
When William was born, the couple viewed him as their “miracle baby” after miscarriages for unknown reasons.
But he suffered from a “double bladder,” where his intestines did not enter his stomach and had a hole in his heart.
Katherine said, “I was 35 weeks pregnant when a routine scan first caught the double bladder, but even then, no one mentioned Down’s syndrome.
“I googled it and saw the two things come together a lot, so I had a test and the downs were confirmed.”
Katherine continued, “The doctors offered to terminate the pregnancy and said I could do it until the birth. I was obviously devastated and cried for days because I didn’t know anything about Down syndrome.
“But then people with Down kids started contacting me and when I met one of them I realized it didn’t matter. I wanted William and it wouldn’t make any difference how much I loved him and took care of him. “
Despite being induced a week earlier than 40 weeks, he was Katherine’s largest baby weighing 9 pounds 8 ounces.
But when William was a day old he had to undergo bowel surgery. Then, four days later, when a problem with a heart valve developed, he had emergency heart surgery.
Five days later he was transferred from the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle to the Leeds General Infirmary – while Benny had to stay in Newcastle to look after the other children.
Soon after, William had to operate on the hole in his heart again, but he died just three days before his operation when his organs were closed. His poor parents had to register his birth and death on the same day.
Despite having so many children together, Katherine and Benny initially couldn’t get pregnant.
She said, “To our delight, after 18 months of trying and six weeks after we got married, I became pregnant with twins Josh and Steph, who we had in 2006. After that we had Cameron and Hannah in 2009.
“I didn’t get pregnant again even though we weren’t using contraception, but we knew there was a complication when Benny reversed his vasectomy, so we figured that was it.”
Katherine continued, “Then I suddenly got pregnant out of the blue, which resulted in my first miscarriage in 18 weeks. Then I lost twins at 13 and 15 weeks and a fourth baby at 12 weeks. All had appeared healthy on the 12 week scans.
“Although I didn’t want to have more than four children with each miscarriage, I was more determined to have another healthy baby.
“Then William came seven years after my fourth child, Hannah.”
After suffering grief after his death, William vowed to find another child and was blessed with Alexander 13 months later in December 2016.
Katherine said, “We’re one big happy family now.
“We’re vacationing with Benny’s oldest daughter, Kayleigh, and her children, who are 13 and 13 months old. We were even pregnant at the same time.”
Katherine continued, “But William is on our mind forever.
“We have a patch in our garden dedicated to him with a cherub statue and a plaque that says” William’s Garden “.
“He is also buried with another cherub with my mother, but we are now planning to have the tombstone engraved with a special message for him.”
Katherine continued, “Benny’s tattoo sums up our family and we love it, but due to the UK weather, hardly anyone can see it as they don’t take their shirt off.
“I’m getting more comments for my tattoo of just a fairy, mushrooms, and a butterfly that goes from my arm to my back.
“But when Benny shows it occasionally, people just go ‘wow’.”
Meanwhile, Benny will never forget the son he loved and lost and forever cherish the tattoo he has as a permanent memory.
He said, “People have been so nice to us. One Christmas we had 16 motorcycles with the bikers dressed as Santa Clauses bringing dozens of presents for our four children after hearing what had happened to William after one of my family friends told his friends in the Easy Riders North-East Group had told about it.
“I would cry on my own after losing him and I wondered what he would be like.
“But now I hope he’s looking at my back and thinking, ‘Daddy did this for me.'”