They arrived early and difficult circumstances, but the miracle IVF triplets from Brisbane share a precious and unbreakable sibling bond.
Liliana, Charlotte and Isabella Fitzgerald were born via emergency caesarean section seven weeks early after their mum, Leonie, had a seizure and was placed in a medically-induced coma.
“I unexpectedly had a seizure on the ward and was raced to theatre to save all our lives and the girls were urgently delivered.” Leonie said.
Leonie describes the first time she saw the girls in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane, as “very overwhelming”.
“”Nothing can prepare you. They were hooked up to machines and there were tubes everywhere.” She said.
“These girls will grow up in each other’s pockets and for me, I’m just grateful they’ll have the chance to have such a special relationship with another,” she reveals.
“After spending more than a month in intensive care, they are now happy and healthy one-year-olds. They have gone from being tube fed and lying in incubators, to running around cuddling each other and chasing our dog Belle around “.
After six years of trying for a baby and four miscarriages, Leonie and husband Peter got the shock 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, who was 44 at the time, 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.
Leonie 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 to deliver the girls.
Liliana was the smallest of the sisters, weighing 1190 grams, Charlotte weighed 1920 grams and Isabella weighed 1590 grams.
“As soon as the girls were placed on my chest they stopped crying and that was a pretty magical experience between a mumma and a bub,” she said.
The babies were still tiny when they arrived home; the smallest, Liliana, only 2kg and Leonie said she was “scared she’d break them”.
Today, the girls are thriving and Leonie runs the house with military precision.
“With triplets, a flexible routine is key as there is less time than if only have one baby,” she shares. “When the girls first came home they were going through 35 nappies per day, now it’s about 15 to 20. They were drinking about 24 bottles of milk per day and now they only have two bottles and the rest is solids.”
“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 has become very important because there is now more things to do in 24 hours than there’s ever been,” she admits.
“We will forever be grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved all of us ” .