How these triplets are a family’s big reward
MOTHERHOOD was nothing new to Jessie McFadden when she discovered she was pregnant last year. But doctors had more than their usual share of good tidings for the Cairns mum.
She was having triplets.
Jessie and husband, Danny, were blessed with an early Christmas gift on December 16 when Nixon, Benji and Lennie arrived at two-minute intervals in Cairns Hospital, the city's first triplets since 2016.
Born by caesarean section at 34 weeks and three days, 15-20 medical staff were on hand as Nixon (2400g) arrived at 10.42am, Benji (2060g) at 10.44am and Lennie (2040g) at 10.46am.
Brothers for six-year-old Havana and five-year-old Patterson, their birth was a welcome relief for Jessie's family after a tough couple of years in which both she and her dad had battled cancer.
"We feel like this is our reward, big time," says Jessie, who's just turned 34.
Now back home as a mother of five, she says life in the McFadden household has undergone huge change.
"I would say it has certainly amped up to next level. There is chaos, but it's most definitely all good.
"It was a massive shock to the system, but equally rewarding. Everything is more time consuming, but that's it really."
Jessie says their Earlville home suddenly seems quite crowded.
"There's three of everything - three rockers, three cots - and everything is in bulk. We have an awful lot of nappy boxes. We stocked up last year while we were both earning an income."
Jessie says she and Danny have adjusted to the busy schedule, which includes taking two children to school. In another big milestone for the family, Patterson started Prep this week, while Havana is in Year 2.
With Danny running his own building business and leaving for work early in the morning, Jessie does the school runs - no simple task when prepping three newborns for a car journey.
"It's certainly quite the event getting into the car," she says.
"I do the pick-up at school, only because I want to, not because no one is willing to help," she says.
Friends and family have been quick to lend a hand with everything from nappy changes to cooking meals.
"We have a real little village here supporting us. We've got people providing dinners, feeding the babies, helping with babysitting and giving moral support.
"Some of our immediate family are providing an immense amount of hands-on help with the boys, including at night time, in between their own work, carer and family obligations," Jessie says.
"I cannot imagine making it this far without that help."
Jessie prefers to do her own housework during quiet times of the day and says their 15kg washing machine is earning its keep.
"I do the washing every day and I'm staying on top of the household. I need that sense of accomplishment myself and I'm a bit of a control freak," she says.
At six weeks, the bonny McFadden bubs have already passed one major milestone.
"Getting them home was a big one," jokes Jessie.
"They were in hospital one day short of three weeks. They were born at 34 weeks and three days and left at 37 weeks. That was considered full term."
Firstborn Nixon now weighs 3.6kg, Benji is 3kg and Lennie is 3.1kg.
"They're very settled boys. It's very much feed and sleep - basically, that's it.
"I'm working towards self-settling, but I follow their sleep cues. When I notice they're ready to go to sleep, I put them down, hopefully before they're too worked up. When one wakes up, we feed him and then do the next and then the next.
"We don't get much sleep - a lot less than before - but we're surviving."
In the mornings, Jessie is up at the crack of dawn to prepare for the pre-school rush.
"I've always been an early bird anyway, but in the mornings it feels like there's a feeding frenzy," she says.
"There's an hour of bottles, then a couple of hours when I can get myself sorted and then off we go again.
"There's not a routine as such; more like a cycle every 3-4 hours."
While she says it's a little too early to determine their personalities, she is noticing some individual behaviour patterns.
"I'm learning who's patient and who's not, but that's about all. Lennie's rather patient. Nixon is not. Benji's somewhere in between," Jessie says.
As the sole director of his own company, Danny's short baby break over Christmas coincided with an industry shutdown.
"He's self-employed, so if he doesn't work, there is no money. He's very busy again now and usually leaves home early. But he's a very hands-on dad and he's certainly had to take on extra."
Jessie says the Far North Queensland Multiple Birth Association and other parents have been very supportive.
"I've got such a great network around me. We've been given a lot of items. I guess it works in a cycle. I was giving friends things like clothes as my children grew up, now we've got their change table."
Jessie says it has been surprisingly smooth sailing since the triplets arrived.
"I went into the pregnancy in my best health, so I was determined to come out on top. I was coping emotionally, physically."
She says she was up for the challenge.
"We've been dealt some challenges before, but this one has some big rewards attached to it.
"We've taken this as a blessing because it has such a positive light to it."