Brisbane mum of 'miracle' triplets reveals strict routine: 'Everything is in bulk'

Photo: Leonie only buys in bulk
Photo: Leonie only buys in bulk 

Leonie Fitzgerald spent six years longing for a baby.

Now, she has nine-month-old triplets and the 46-year-old mum from Brisbane runs her home with military precision.

The days are planned out to the hour on a whiteboard with every feed and sleep time recorded.

Photo: Dad helping to feed the girls just after they were born
Photo: Dad helping to feed the girls just after they were born 

"We are really strict with their routine," she tells Essential Baby. "We don't mess around with that stuff, but it makes you very anxious trying to stick to it. Sometimes I have just three minutes to get them all dressed and into bed for their scheduled sleep.

"I love routine but some days I just want to sit there for a moment and do nothing."

After six years of trying for a baby and four miscarriages, Leonie and Pete got the shock of their lives when their first scan revealed one of the two embryos transplanted had split and they were expecting triplets.

The pregnancy wasn't easy, and Leonie spent about six months on bed rest, needing help just to go to the toilet.

A caesarean was scheduled for 33-weeks but the day before Leonie said she had a gut feeling that she should go to hospital.

A few hours later while having a heartbeat scan she began to have a seizure and immediately passed out. 

Advertisement

"Pete thought I was being electrocuted," she said. "I remember saying to my husband something's not right. He shouted at the nurse, 'why aren't you doing something?', and that was the last I knew."

Leonie had suffered pre-eclampsia, a rare, but serious condition where high blood pressure results in seizures and she was immediately put into a drug-induced coma and rushed in for an emergency caesarean.

The tiny girls were born at 32 weeks weighing between 1190g and 1940g. Their little hands so small they would wrap around Leonie's smallest fingernail.

Photo: Leonie had been trying to have a baby for six years before conceiving her three beautiful girls. Supplied
Photo: Leonie had been trying to have a baby for six years before conceiving her three beautiful girls. Supplied 

The babies spent seven weeks in hospital where Leonie said she and Pete tried to learn as much as they could from the nurses.

Neither of them had had any experience of babies and said they were completely unprepared.

"It was surreal, when we first came home, we didn't even have their beds set up and didn't know what we were supposed to be doing," she explains. "We both looked at each other and said, 'what are we supposed to do now'. I am usually very strategic in life, but when they came home, I had nothing prepared.

Photo: Leonie relies on donated breast milk and a strict schedule
Photo: Leonie relies on donated breast milk and a strict schedule 

"We didn't even have enough bottles to feed them and had to rely on the disposable bottles from the hospital. That made me anxious because I didn't know what I was supposed to do other than feed them every four hours."

The babies were still tiny when they arrived home; the smallest – Liliana, only 2kg and Leonie said she was scared she'd break them.

Leonie was still recovering from the trauma of the birth, so they hired a nanny who still comes to help five days a week and rely on friends and family who come regularly.

Photo: Getting car seats fitted
Photo: Getting car seats fitted 

She said they were told with multiples it was essential to have them in a routine, so the whiteboard helps with this and "creates a process where everyone is on the same page that comes to help," she said.

Leonie jokes that they all survive on frozen meals, often brought over by friends and family.

"A friend bought us a freezer and filled it with food."

Photo: Hands and hearts full. Supplied
Photo: Hands and hearts full. Supplied 

She said everything is bought in bulk and she scours the internet for specials then dashes into the shops to buy out the stock.

"Everything is en masse," she laughs. "You just don't buy one of something you have to buy for three. When I go shopping for nappies, I fill the trolley. I look for things on sale and go back with two trolleys. I completely wipe out the shelf and tell the lady at the register that I've cleared the shelf, can they restock it and I'll be back from the car to get more,

Time is very precious to Leonie, who is sharing their journey on Instagram and also runs her own business. She even bought a pram that would hold three babies but wouldn't allow people to see she had triplets and want to stop and spend 10 minutes talking to her about life with triplets.

Photo: Leonie is sharing their journey on Instagram @thebusinessoftriplets. Supplied
Photo: Leonie is sharing their journey on Instagram @thebusinessoftriplets. Supplied 

When not running their businesses or caring for the babies, Leonie and Pete take it in turns to drive all over Brisbane and the Gold Coast picking up donated milk from generous mums.

"One day I drove for three hours in a storm picking up breast milk from all over Brisbane and I was panicking thinking I wouldn't make it home to see the girls."

She said by the time she arrived at the last house she burst into tears and her partner offered her a bottle of wine.

Another day Pete drove to Toowoomba to collect milk from a mother who then offered him her chest freezer. 

"These women are so selfless," she gushes. "They are amazing. Some are pumping just to give our girls milk"

It makes me feel incredibly grateful. I've got regular donors and we chat every week."