Claire Robinson, 26, Drouin, Vic
Ever since I was a little girl, I've pictured myself being a mum. With eight brothers and sisters, I longed to replicate the warm and loving home I grew up in.
So when I met my husband Michael, 30, I was thrilled when he shared my dream. With four siblings of his own, he couldn't imagine life any other way.
When we got married six years ago, we wanted to start a family right away. But 18 months later, when I hadn't fallen pregnant, we went to see a fertility doctor.
We both had a series of tests and eventually received the devastating news that both of us had fertility issues. 'It's extremely unlikely you'll conceive naturally,' the doctor told us. We were heartbroken.
As devout Catholics, we felt IVF wasn't right for us so we did our best to accept we might never have kids. Still, we never lost hope.
In early 2012, I asked my doctor about a fertility drug that I'd heard could help women who were struggling to conceive. He agreed that I could try a year's course, but told me my chances were extremely low.
'Don't get your hopes up,' he warned. Three attempts went by, but each month we were disappointed.
Then, in June 2012, I noticed my period was a day late. I was feeling nervous, so took a pregnancy test. I couldn't believe my eyes when it came up positive.
As I rang Michael to tell him, my hands shook with excitement. 'I'm pregnant!' I cried. We were both over the moon.
Our doctor was just as amazed. 'This is a one in a million baby!' he told us. At my eight-week scan, it felt like a dream as I saw our bub appear on the screen.
Unfortunately, I suffered terrible morning sickness for the whole nine months. The only thing that made the constant vomiting bearable was the thought that I would soon be holding our baby in my arms.
In March 2013, our beautiful boy Matthew came into the world. When I heard him cry for the first time, I felt a huge rush of relief and love.
He's absolutely perfect! I thought, cuddling him.
Michael and I adored being parents, and we decided to try again when Matthew was a year old. We thought it would take up to a year for me to fall pregnant.
But after just one round of treatment, I realised I was late again. Taking the test felt like deja vu.
Surely lightning couldn't strike twice, I thought, waiting for the result. But it had!
Soon I was having my eight-week scan.
I peered at the screen while Michael sat on the other side holding Matthew, who was then 14 months old. 'I think I can see two,' I said. 'Is it twins?'
The sonographer stayed quiet, concentrating on the screen. After what felt like an eternity, he turned to us. 'Actually, I can see three babies. You're having triplets!'
We were both stunned.
I knew the fertility drug increased the chance of having twins, but I never imagined this happening!
I burst into tears and laughed at the same time. 'We were told we couldn't have kids, and now we'll have four!' I cried.
My mum Therese, 56, didn't believe me when I tearfully called to break the news. 'You're joking!' she gasped.
But the news was daunting too. My pregnancy was now classed as high-risk and we were told that only 33 per cent of triplet pregnancies end successfully.
My extreme sickness returned with a vengeance and I could barely keep down any food. In fact, despite my huge bump, I gained just six kilos throughout the whole pregnancy.
Because of how sick I was, Michael and I moved back in with Mum and my dad, Bernard, 58.
At our 24-week scan, we asked the doctor to write down our babies' genders on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope.
Then we organised a gender reveal party for our close family and friends.
Meanwhile, Michael's dad Phillip opened the envelope and secretly placed three little singlets - either pink or blue - in three boxes for us to open on the day.
Two weeks later, it was time for the big reveal!
When I pulled out the first blue singlet, everyone smiled. Matthew was going to have a brother! Then came the second. We all burst out laughing.
'Surely the last one has to be pink?' I said.
'It's a boy!' I cried, opening the final box. The room erupted with cheers and laughter. 'We'll have four boys under two!' I said, giving Michael a big hug.
Although we were surprised, I couldn't believe how lucky we were.
We just prayed the three would all arrive safely.
At 34 weeks, it was time for my caesarean. Michael held my hand as we waited to meet our little trio.
Timothy and identical twins, Oliver and Nicholas, soon arrived.
All three were healthy but they spent three weeks side by side in hospital until they were big enough to come home.
Looking at them together, I couldn't believe they were really ours. The first six months were a blur of feeds and nappies.
Friends volunteered to do three-hour shifts to help us care for all four boys, and Mum was always on hand.
Now back in our own home, we've settled into a routine. Matthew has just turned three and loves playing dinosaurs with the triplets, who are one.
Tim has started taking a few steps, Oliver loves crawling everywhere and Nick has just discovered he can click his tongue, which makes him giggle!
It might be hard work, but the boys really have lit up our lives. In fact, we're hoping to have more kids in the future.
Call us crazy, but there's nothing better than being one big happy family.
Originally published in that’s life! Issue 12 – March 17, 2016