Happy first birthday to our miracle triplets
THEY have one of the hardest jobs as parents, but wouldn't swap it for the world.
Kerry and Mark Shakesby are proud mum and dad to three beautiful babies – Olivia, Oscar and Phoebe.
The triplets celebrated their first birthday on Sunday, a day their parents had spent years dreaming of.
The little ones were born on December 16 last year, after nine years of trying, five cycles of IVF treatment, £20,000 spent and five weeks away from home while they were in hospital.
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"They were a long time coming," said Mark, 39. "At some points, I thought it would never happen.
"But all the heartache, stress and pain that we went through is just a distant memory now."
The triplets came along after three private stints of IVF and two on the NHS.
Kerry, 33, did manage to get pregnant on one of the treatments, but unfortunately miscarried.
Mark said: "Obviously, the babies were worth it. But the problem with IVF is, you never know when it will work.
"If someone said 'If you lay down £100,000 and will have this amazing baby to treasure forever at the end of it, then obviously we would have found a way to pay it. But you don't know when to draw the line. Do you say you will pay for another round or do you give up?
"It is hard to know when to stop. At some points, we thought we would never get lucky."
The triplets were born ten weeks prematurely, all within four minutes of each other. They weighed between 2lb 10oz and 3lb 10oz and were delivered by Caesarian.
They are now healthy one-year-olds and, like all babies, are causing all sorts of challenges for their parents.
"They're definitely showing their different personalities," said Mark.
"Oscar is a typical boy, he can fall asleep any time, anywhere.
"The girls like their own space to sleep and like to be in their cot.
"They are a bit of a handful. If you have one baby, you can feed them and change them and then sit and have a cuddle with them. When you have three, as soon as you've finished feeding one, another one needs changing."
But the sleepless nights and stress of coping with a trio of little mouths to feed are all worth it for the sight that greets Kerry and Mark each morning.
"When I look down in their cot before breakfast, if they're awake, they're always smiling," said Mark.
"I'm never greeted with a crying baby, they seem to not cry a huge amount.
"But I've probably jinxed myself by saying that."
Earlier this month, the babies were baptised at St Aidan's Church, off Southcoates Avenue. Afterwards, there was a huge party for family and friends to celebrate the occasion.
While Mark and Kerry were pushing the pram from the church to the party, a familiar phrase often heard by the couple was uttered.
Mark said: "Whenever we go anywhere someone always says, 'Ooh, I bet they're hard work aren't they?'
"I know their comments are only meant in a nice way, but we hear it all the time.
"I'm thinking of getting a special T-shirt made. It'll say: Yes, they are hard work, but they're lovely and I wouldn't swap them for the world."