It's fair to say 2014 was a big year for Pip and Bryan Donnelly. The couple had their first child Archie in January, were married in May and welcomed triplets Frankie, Georgina and Isabelle in November.
And while the thought of caring for four children under the age of one seems like a daunting prospect, the couple believe they can survive anything after the emotional rollercoaster that has been their past 12 months.
Pip and Bryan were overjoyed when Mercy Hospital for Women doctors confirmed they were having triplets at 12 weeks. However five weeks later tension grew when they were told the babies were battling an extremely rare condition that meant they were sharing vascular connections within the placenta.
The couple was consequently faced with the tough decision of going ahead with a Victorian-first intrauterine surgery, which involved a fetoscope being inserted into the womb so that a laser could close off the blood flow between the triplets.
The procedure was conducted by the Victorian Fetal Therapy Service (VFTS), which includes experts from Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Medical Centre and the Royal Women's Hospital.
To the family's relief, the high-risk procedure was successful with the girls born by caesarean at just under 29 weeks. They will remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before going home in January or February.
Now that all is well, friends and family are asking Pip and Bryan how they are going to cope with four children under the age of one. The response is simply "nothing can be as stressful as what we've gone through".
"The fact that they are alive really does mean the world to us, there are simply no words to describe how happy we are," Pip said.
"We are just so thrilled to have them come home soon,'' Bryan said. "It's just magic, like winning the lottery three times over."
Dr Alison Fung, who has been with the family every step of the way, said it was a fantastic result, given that it was the first time the procedure had been performed on triplets in Victoria. She paid special tribute to other members of the VFTS, especially leading fetal surgeon Dr Mark Teoh, who contributed to the health of the girls.
"It's a really amazing and a huge success for the family and the team," Alison said.
For more information on the VFTS go to vfts.com.au.