Wednesday, March 31, 2010


We can't tell Wally to drink some water and we certainly can't suggest that he hold his breath. We could try holding him upside down but the nurses would lose it... so the only sensible play left was just to listen and smile at this:


Monday, March 29, 2010

Boys will be boys.

Wallace is 11 days old. He's eating, breathing, and growing like a champion! He can't get enough food or air :)

I'm taking too many pictures. I get very excited when he makes a cool hand signal. I'm trying to catch him using setting signals we used on the Queen's volleyball team back in the day. So far he is asking for a lot of 'back quicks'...

.... and the occasional 'metre ball'.

... which makes me think he might be asking to play right side, but it's hard to tell this early. In any case, I think he should start with high sets out to the stick like a proper beginner before we speed up the tempo and get all fancy. But before all that... 'no pass no play' little guy :)

This next one is not a volleyball signal. Mum is looking a bit annoyed at Wally's hint that he might also like to 'rock out'. I'm not surprised. What young mother would want a drum kit or a huge amp in the house?

And here's the lil'champ chillin with pops.

And I'll leave you with our first of many 'fist bumps'. Nicely done Wallaby!

More to come

Friday, March 26, 2010


Thank you for the outpouring of congratulations and support after my email announcement last week. There were many requests for updates and pictures and I will try to use this forum to update our friends and extended family about our little boy. Unlike Kate, who already plays a big part in Wallace’s growth and health, I just drive her around, take pictures, and worry. I will now add this to my routine and maybe it will displace some worry.

Kate and I have become part of a mysterious and secretive world that few think about and nobody ever wishes to join. In Brisbane, this world consists of an entire floor of a massive hospital, with 80 tiny beds. It is where infants go if they are born too early, born sick, or both. Fear of infection restricts access almost exclusively to parents, doctors, and a team of remarkable nurses who are the closest thing to angels that I have ever seen.

Pregnancies are meant to last 40 weeks. The prognosis for a child born at 31 weeks and 3 days gestation is, to a surprising degree, still a mystery. Survival rates are very high but so many other questions are unanswered. Some babies born at 26 (or even earlier) weeks can grow quickly become healthy and happy with just a bit of help and go on to live wonderfully ordinary lives, others born at 35 week (or later) can be very sick with life-long troubles of all sorts. Doctors do not know until the minutes, hours, and days after birth what the consequences of prematurity may be and what interventions will be needed to help a baby survive.

Wallace Kenneth Magolan was born on March 19, 2010 – about two months ahead of schedule and at just 1.415 kg. For Kate and I, the experience was unbearable. Wally was not supposed to eat or breathe until the middle of May and we were asking him to step up and do it in March.

Because our lungs are among the final organs to mature in the womb, pre-mature babies often have breathing troubles. When I was told, hours before the birth of my first son, that near the top of the list of many potential problems for which to prepare was ‘possible severe respiratory disease’, I did not hear word ‘possible’ – just the other three.

But the difficult moments leading up to delivery are behind us now - and as many of you already know, since Wally’s birth we have heard good news and more good news. After about a day of assistance he was asked to try breathing on his own for a little while (without little nose ‘scuba gear’ called CPAP). So he did – and to everyone’s surprise the ‘scuba gear’ was never again required. Next he was asked to eat on his own instead of through an IV drip. So he did. A few drops of mother’s milk through a tube into his belly. When he showed the doctors that he could digest it they gave him more, and more, and more… and by day four he was downing 20 mL of milk every two hours and the IV (with supplemental calories) was removed from his little arm because he no longer needed that either. By day six they were adding a calorie enhancing powder to mom’s milk to help him grow even faster. The temperature of his little incubator home was slowly decreased from 37 to 32 degrees during his first week as he showed everyone that he wanted to try contributing a bit to keeping himself warm.

Today he is 8 days old, growing and looking wonderful. The medical strategy I see being employed - offering Wally challenge after challenge without a chance to get comfortable with ‘assisted-living’ – seems so natural and right to me. But my eyes water whenever I think of the fight that his little body must endure before he is ready to come home with us.

Wallace is taken out of his incubator twice daily and placed on his mom’s chest for a couple of hours - a process called skin-to-skin-care or kangaroo-care. The name has little to do with Australia but everything to do with kangaroos. This skin-to-skin time has been shown to ‘magically’ help pre-mature babies grow faster, resist infection, and develop well.

The hospital keeps him breathing but Kate gives him a reason to breathe. It's beautiful.

More to come.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The making of a Canadian Legend

As Canadian hockey fans go, I’m barely an amateur. I don’t gamble on sport, I don’t even have a ‘team’ I support or know much about. But I do appreciate the game itself. The pace and skill at the highest level is astonishing. I like being impressed. I don't care if it is individal genius, or brilliant team work - I just like seeing impressive sport.

But the most impressive thing about hockey (like any other of the world’s top sports played at the highest level) is not the tremendously high sustained skill level - it is the occasional rare ‘moment’ that surpasses all expectation - a moment that borders on magic, and stays in your thoughts for weeks, or months, or a lifetime. These moments require pressure. International contests fit the bill because they come with the pressure generated by the weight of entire nations - millions of passionate people. I think human beings feel a natural admiration, and appreciation for ‘excellence under such pressure’ just as we do about ‘courage under fire’. It is a deep appreciation. These rare moments are the reason that sport holds such a prominent place in our world – why the World Cup, the Superbowl, the Olympics draw more interest from humanity than so many more ‘serious’ things. It's not just a game. Sport can tug on a deep, deep, nerve and dish out a sense of joy and satisfaction unlike any other entertainment that I know of. And for someone who lives only briefly, and just once, like you, or me, these moments beat the heck out of math class.

Here's one such moment that you already know about:

Yesterday, team USA was a few heartbeats away from all but certain defeat with twenty-something seconds remaining in the Olympic gold medal men’s hockey final when they scored to tie the game at 2:2. Already this had been one of the fastest paced, most exciting hockey games in anyone’s memory – it would soon become the most memorable game ever witnessed by an entire generation of Canadians. A tied score meant an extra 20 minutes of overtime played four-on-four. That’s two fewer bodies in play than normal – ‘freedom on ice’ – making defence more difficult and a goal more likely.

About seven thrilling ‘hockey minutes’ later – a 22 year old Canadian kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia brought the puck into the US zone squeezing a stick between two American defencemen, flicking the puck to his left and following it into the side boards. This kid, Sidney Crosby, had no way of knowing just then that he was only few short breaths away from becoming a Legend. He was already famous, recognized by many even as the best player in the world today, a Stanley Cup winner a just a few months earlier – but not a Legend – not yet - not for a few more seconds.

Along the boards, Crosby flicked the puck to his right, into the corner for Jerome Iginla who was followed in to the corner by an American skater. Then Crosby, free of the puck, turned to his right, and for the slightest split second he shot a calm glance at the US defenceman in front of him. This is what it looked like:

The red-dressed fans behind the glass, inches from Crosby, had no way to see what was coming so soon. They were just seconds from being the happiest members of a nation overwhelmed with joy. For the remainder of their lives, these eye witnesses will recall with great emotion the story of their fortunate proximity to the moment that was about to occur.

With a sudden burst of acceleration, Crosby was gone – just like that - headed for the net.

I’m not a hockey coach but ‘pass the puck and head for the net’ sounds like something that Sidney Crosby probably learned long before he learned much else. It was a lesson that now put him alone, and free, in front of the US net in Olympic Gold Medal overtime. Now he just needed that puck back. And Jerome Iginla, in the corner fighting for the puck (and certainly no stranger to this role in the time-tested give-and-go) did not disappoint. Despite the best efforts of two US players, the puck was delivered – back onto Crosby’s stick.

And there it was... a heartbeat, a shot, a brief moment forever stamped onto Canadian culture.

For Sidney Crosby, it was probably fast and natural - and not what he expected becoming a ‘Legend’ might feel like. Later he would say that it didn’t feel real. I suspect that might be the way these things usually go down. Reality is overwhelming; paralysing. But talent makes these moments ‘instinctive’. Crosby was skilled and strong enough ‘not to feel it’ and not to be overwhelmed by the significance of the whole thing before the job was done.

The fans behind the glass in that picture could see the moment materializing right in front of them too. With them, a anxious nation of red-dressed television viewers, along with a good chunk of the rest of the industrialized world all suddenly become aware too - all together, all at once. Canadians in Brisbane Australia saw it live: Crosby, puck, net... a breath held for an instant, and it was over.

The puck slipped under the pads of superstar goalkeeper Ryan Miller - and we were Olympic Champions.

An instant later, with Crosby rounding net, the moment was behind us – gone. And as good as the memories, pictures, replays are - it will never feel the same again. It will never have the pressure and the uncertainty of the real thing. But it was special enough to warrant one heck of a celebration.

After his goal, Crosby tossed his stick and jumped in the air and an entire country jumped with him. NBC should sell a poster of this jump - from this angle - with his stick flying through the air. This image is not really about Sidney Crosby anymore - his job was finished a second or two earlier - this image is about the sea of red behind the glass, the nation represented.

My mother told me on the phone today that in the 25 years since she immigrated to Canada from Poland she had never, ever, seen Canadians act so united and openly happy, on television, in the streets, at work, everybody, everywhere. A lid had been flipped off the top of a calm and reserved nation – we had briefly become Brazilian-like.

And here come two of his gold-medal winning team mates. Thanks Crosby – you’re a legend.

Canada now stands alone with 8 Olympic men’s hockey gold medals, one more than the second best Soviet Union. We also totalled 14 gold medals in Vancouver, the most of any nation in Winter Olympics history. Not bad eh?

As for these images – yes I obviously pinched them from NBC video, with appreciation if not permission, and I hope that because I won’t make any money from them and NBC is getting free advertising, it's all good. In fact, 'thank you', and 'you’re welcome' NBC.