STEVE IRWIN'S CHRISTMAS CRACKER
News Source: Womens Day, January, 2004
By: Warren Gibbs
Crikey. Isn’t he a little Christmas cracker!” roared Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin at the magical moment he helped deliver his son. With tears streaming down his face, super-dad Steve says that assisting wife Terri in the birth of Robert Clarence was by far the most memorable and exhilarating experience of his life. “I’m still shaking,” says Steve, holding out his big hands, which are more used to man-eating reptiles than delicate tots.
With Robert asleep and snuggled up inside his khaki-coloured shirt, just like a joey, Steve 41, plants a delicate kiss on the tiny bub’s forehead. “Mate, it doesn’t get any better than this,” he proclaims. A tired but happy Terri, 39, agrees. “We’re the happiest family in the world,” she says from her room at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, which is packed with flowers, gifts and cards from well-wishes all over the world. “Bindi (Steve and Terri’s five-year-old daughter) is so excited to have a little brother to play with. Santa arranged the best Christmas gift.”
Among those passing on their best wishes are parents-to-be Russell Crowe, a long-time mate of Steve, and his wife Danielle Spencer, whose first baby is due in January. They sent a bouquet of more than 100 white roses. “They needed a prime loader to deliver them,” Steve quips. “I caught up with Russ a couple of weeks ago and he’s tickled pink about impending fatherhood.”
Steve – who along with Terri went to extraordinary lengths to conceive a boy – is still on cloud nice after the dramatic birth. He missed daughter Bindi’s arrival in July 1998, so it was extra-special that he was with Terri this time.
He also played a key role at the delivery. “The little kid was in such a hurry to get out that he got hooked up near Terri’s pelvic bone,” Steve reveals. “She was totally exhausted, so the doctor used a suction cap to free his tiny head, which all of a sudden just popped out. “His shoulder got jammed, so I just moved my hands up to help him on his way… It was amazing. He was given a bit of oxygen and then I placed him on Terri’s chest. “He started the sucking motion – he was looking for his tucker straight away. It was so overwhelming I couldn’t stop crying.
Bindi smiles as her father finishes telling the story. “He’s a big softie,” she says. “It’s the greatest gift in the world,” continues Steve, cuddling his 3.2kg bundle of joy, named after his dad Robert and Terri’s father Clarence. The baby, wearing a specially made khaki babygro, may only be a few days old, but he already bares a striking resemblance to his dad, with his tuft of blond hair and similar facial features. “If Steve ended up a sperm doner we wouldn’t have a problem spotting which kids belonged to him!” jokes Terri.
Although still tender after the birth – “stitches, and lots of them”, as she puts it – Terri says they’re already discussing the likelihood of more children. “Right at this moment in time, I feel the biggest reason I was put on this earth was so I could reproduce,” Steve says. “There’s no better feeing than knowing in my heart that Bindi and Bob will follow on with our important wildlife crusade. I can depart this life a happy man. “Taking two children to distant and remove countries is going to be a tough call. Terri and I firmly believe that whatever we do, we do it together.
“Bindi’s only five, but already she’s had a great education – hanging off the tails of three-meter crocodiles and learning first-hand the struggles people and animals confront every day.”
“I really take my hat off to Mel Gibson,” Terri says. “He’s got seven children, two nannies and a wife, and they travel all over the world filming. That’s the secret of a successful family – they stick together, no matter what.
“While we’d love to have more children, filming documentaries is going to be much harder. We wouldn’t be staying in a motel… We’re more likely to be on a boat or sleeping under the stars in the African jungle.”
One thing’s for sure. Terri and Steve are unlikely to go to the same lengths to help determine the sex of their next baby. While the formula worked with Bob, it was tough going for Terri. She stuck to a strict diet of no dairy, eggs, shellfish, nuts or chocolate. And instead of cereal in the morning, she ate smoked salmon and capers to make her boy chemistry more receptive to “boy sperm”. And Steve had to keep his “nether regions” cool at all times. That meant plenty of icy baths during Terri’s ovulation time – and months going underpants-free. “It was just as stressful for me,” he laughs. “Doing documentaries in the wild, everything was going up my shorts!” “But getting bitten by bugs of all shapes and sizes was a small price to pay to have Bob. We didn’t know the sex until he popped out, so it was a wonderful surprise for everyone.”
Bob’s birth has capped of a remarkable 12 months. Steve was recently named Queenslander of the Year, putting him in the running for Australian of the Year. He’s also tipped to receive an international bravery award after his recent rescue of a scuba diver off the coast of Mexico.
The next 12 months are also shaping up well. Steve plans to build a new Zoo complex near Brisbane, and, next March, 10 constantants will star in a real-life Survivor-like series at his Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
But fatherhood is his top priority “Being a dad is something I treasure more and more each day,” says Steve, “It’s a sheer joy.”