Bringing up triplets is not the biggest challenge for Sharon and Stephen Smith – it’s dealing with hurtful comments from strangers.
The Albion Park couple, who are this week celebrating Multiple Birth Awareness Week with other families across the region, said people often expressed ‘‘shock or horror’’ when they saw the trio of toddlers.
‘‘I understand people don’t see triplets every day but every time we’re out and about, people will stare and many come up to us and say things like ‘I couldn’t cope with that’ or ‘you poor thing, you’ve got your hands full’,’’ Mrs Smith said.
‘‘They see having triplets as some kind of punishment, but when you try for as long as we did to have a family, then three children is an absolute blessing.’’
The couple had spent six years trying for a baby and were overjoyed when Mrs Smith fell pregnant on the second full cycle of IVF.
‘‘We asked for two eggs to be implanted and initially thought we were having fraternal twins,’’ she said. ‘‘Then at my 11-week scan we could clearly see one baby in one sac, and two in the other.’’
The babies - identical twins Sapphire and Brianna and brother Cooper - were born eight weeks premature and had to spend time in the neo-natal units and special care nursery at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick.
Teamwork is the key to coping with triplets according to the pair, who said life was becoming even more interesting as their children reached the ‘‘terrible twos’’.
‘‘They’ve all got their own unique personalities - Sapphire is the diva, our little spitfire; Brianna is so sweet and like a mother hen to them all; and Cooper, who is developmentally delayed, is quiet and lovable,’’ Mr Smith said.
The Smiths have gained advice, support and comfort from the Wollongong Multiple Birth Association which offers them practical tips, information and resources and runs social events with other parents of multiples.