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Belly Report – Happy Days

By Gordon
Woo hoo! We made it. The bun is baked and we’re off to have a baby.
Due to the complicated delivery last time, it was recommended we press the eject button on this pregnancy at 37 weeks and that, my friends, is next week. So, this is the last belly report.
Cybele kept pestering me to do a post on how our previous pregnancy was for me, you know, the dad’s perspective on having a prem baby and here it is.
I liken the times that Heckle was in the NCC (Newborn Care Centre) to living in the twilight-zone. It’s a parallel universe where you’d step from the seeming normality of a hard negotiation around a boardroom table, and enter the beeps and buzzes, hissing of ventilators, hushed whispers and plethora of alarms that surround these little people. Suddenly everything that you may have been focused on, or worrying about during the day seems as important  as “What sort of jam the Queen had on her toast that morning”.
When Heckle was the same age as the baby we’re about to have, we’d already had well over 80 days in the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit), rolling through the full gamut of emotions and myriad of fears, tears, disappointments, little victories, stumbles, U-turns, glimpses of hope and of course, some heart wrenching scenes with other very small people that just turn your guts to stone.
To cope and normalise the situation, you find yourself creating your little routines to try and make some of ‘that’ as mundane and normal as possible. You also find yourself asking funny little requests of the universe.
Every day, I’d leave the office and jump in the car, drive to gym and rock climb (thank god my climbing gym was around the corner) for an hour to steady the nerves after a day of wrangling any number of crap situations that work can throw at you. I’d wash myself down and then make the short trip round the corner to the doors of the NCC to do the evening shift with Heckle.
The usual decontamination followed, scrubbing your arms and hands like a madman to ensure that the chances of carrying nasties into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) would be as minimised as possible.  The sign overhead indicated to the three sections of the NCC: hard left to the Special Care Unit (for babies nearly ready to be discharged home), down the corridor and right to the High Dependency Unit and then straight ahead for the NICU.
23 paces to the entrance of the HDU and  12 more paces to the doors into the NICU. As I took those steps. Every. Single. Day…all I would ask…’Is today the day I get to turn left into HDU or go straight ahead???’ Just 90 degrees would mean such a difference. We’d be in the High Dependency ward, and heaven forbid hoping, I’d get the opportunity in the foreseeable future to turn left into Special Care.
I would enter the NICU, smile and wave at the nurses and registrars (these wonderful people…I could write a small dissertation on the love, regard and admiration that I have for them) and say hello to Heckle. By now he was out of a humidicrib and in an open cot, a great sign that he was regulating his body temp and getting stronger, so I’d walk over and kiss his forehead, and whisper, ‘Daddy’s here. I’m so proud and happy to see you’.
The charts and blood work results would follow, poring over the details, looking for the nuances and signs that the last 24 hours had been an improvement, and if X-rays of his lungs had been done recently, I’d stare and discuss them ad nauseam with whichever registrar was on hand to put up with me. Then I’d sing songs to Harry. See, just routine…
At 38 weeks, Heckle made it into High Dependency. 86 days in the NICU…time that now seems shrouded in a cloak of mist, and lived through by another person. The move into HDU was a watershed moment, where I realised that I could exhale a breath that I’d been holding for months, and take some deep fresh ones. We could relish the fact that through some amazing, incredible, quirk of fate and luck, that we were going to make it through ‘this’ and live the dream of coming home in the not too distant future. Sure, there were a lot of hurdles and tests, another 50+ days and a hospital change to face, but how incredibly lucky were we???

We’re doing these fortnightly Belly Reports to remind everyone who can donate blood to do so. Wherever you are, your country needs your blood!

Heckle and I would not be here today without the generosity of the people who donate blood and we are not alone. One in three people will need a blood product some time in their life.

This is the Australian blood bank link, but every country has one.


About Gordon Eckel

Gordon Eckel, a foodie and (rock) wall climber extraordinaire. He worked in some of Sydney’s top restaurants, but decided that he liked cooking for his friends more, so ran away and joined the circus (aka managing Sydney nightclubs). Six years ago and after a few too many creamy pastas he weighed 105 kg with a ridiculously high cholesterol. He changed his eating ways, wore out a treadmill and dropped 25 kilos in three months. Now he is renown for cooking deceptively healthy food and for proselytizing about the marvels of the great Australian red.

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  1. I thought it was Cybele’s posts that made me weep at my desk, and now YOU’VE made me cry as well. Neither of you ever gave any indication of the strain you were under. And i think Heckles is the gorgeous ball of happiness he is simply because of his parents. Can’t wait to see how boisterous the next guy is.

  2. Yep, I has tears at my desk too! So glad this time around has been smoother for you both. Best of luck for the new arrival next week!

  3. Thankyou ladies, and I hate making a girl cry!! It’s meant to be a happy post as it was quite the turning point!! Just feeling very lucky this time round…so far…

  4. Gordo I had no idea the struggle you’d all been through. Huge hugs to you and Belle (and the gorgeous Harry, who’s your spitting image!).

    I used to donate blood all the time but my stupid veins resent it. I’d given up over winter, but after reading this today I’ve booked in again. It’s a tiny inconvenience with a huge impact, so how can a girl say no?! Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us all what’s important.

  5. Lovely Gordon. Very touching. Look forward to seeing Pop and Heckle continue their courtship on Saturday.

    P.S. 105kg? Well I never.

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