Their family room is baby central, with toys, books and a steady stream of movement from one child to another.
Feeding one of the babies or pushing his two year old around in a plastic purple car has become as natural to Mathieu by now as his versatile role on the ice in the NHL.
“I’ve been enjoying being a dad.”
But with the demands of being a professional hockey player and all the travelling that comes with it, Mathieu is quick to point out his wife wears the C in their family.
“She does everything, really.”
“On days off when we don’t have games, I do everything I can to help with the feeding, taking care of my older daughter, trying to be a good dad as much as I can,” Mathieu said.
The couple recently opened their home to Global News to talk about their growing family and their connection to St. Boniface Hospital.
In a span of 19 months, Mathieu and Jennilie welcomed three children into the world; their first born Violette, who recently turned two, followed by twins Hector and Penelope.
“It was definitely two different experiences, but both of them are just amazing,” Mathieu said.
Following a smooth but long labour, Violette was born on Feb. 29, 2016 — leap year day — less than a year and a half after the couple moved to Winnipeg. With French roots and English being their second language, St. Boniface Hospital felt particularly comfortable during the delivery process.
“Just giving birth is so stressful. When you’re able to speak your own language it makes it easier,” Jennilie said.
The family quickly grew to include two more children in September 2017.
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“It was crazy. In less than three hours, I gave birth (to) twins naturally.”
Hector and Penelope were premature, born at 36 weeks. While Jennilie was released from the hospital, the twins stayed behind in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for seven days.
At first Hector had a little bit of trouble breathing. Penelope, the smaller of the twins, weighing a little over five pounds, needed to put on extra weight.
“It was a little bit stressful at first.”
That first week was filled with multiple trips to and from the hospital every day to be with the twins.
“They did a great job letting us know what was going on and we’re just really thankful for them to make sure our babies were safe and healthy,” Mathieu said.
“They were just amazing with my children, my family,” Jennilie said.
PHOTO GALLERY: View images of the Perreault family
Every year more than 5,600 babies are born at St. Boniface Hospital. A little over 10 per cent or approximately 600 sick or premature babies are treated in the NICU.
The Perreaults say they have first-hand experience of the importance of that specialized medical care.
“Once we were in there, you could see other families and other babies going through tougher times,” Mathieu said.
“Seeing all that, I felt it would be great for me to step up and be a spokesperson for this.”
Mathieu and his wife have added their voices to support fundraising for the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation. They are included in the campaign to promote the 2018 Mega Million Choices Lottery.
“They did such a great job. I felt it was a way to say thank you to them,” Mathieu said.
Giving back to the hospital and a community that has become home is important to Mathieu and Jennilie.
It’s part of the values they want to instill in their children.
“I try to raise them as I’ve been raised, you know, as a polite and genuine person as much as I can,” Mathieu said.
“I just want them to be good people, respectful. That’s really all I can wish for.”