When Lucy Nicoll gave birth to triplets at 15 weeks' premature, it was touch and go whether they would survive.
Fast forward five years, and Havelock North's Molly, Joshua and Cameron Nicoll have overcome the odds - and thrived.
They're happy, healthy and set to unleash their individual personalities on Te Mata Primary School's teachers on their first day at school on Monday.
Nicoll says lead-up to the births in Auckland Hospital, at 25 weeks, was harrowing.
"I nearly lost Molly, Josh and Cam 19 weeks through my pregnancy," she said.
"Due to an operation, rest and luck I managed to hold on to them until the legal day of resuscitation at 25 weeks' gestation."
The newborn triplets - Molly was a natural birth, Cameron and Joshua C-section - remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for most of their three-and-a-half-month stay in hospital.
They were discharged the day before their due date.
Cameron, the youngest triplet, had a rollercoaster ride in hospital, Nicoll says.
"He contracted bacterial meningitis, necrotising enterocolitis, long-line infections, hernias and battled a few other complications during his stay.
"I will never ever forget the emotional NICU ride where there is a daily threat of life-threatening complications.
"Our family will also never forget the outstanding care from hospital staff at all levels, and amazing facilities provided in NICU and the wider Starship Hospital.
"It felt like we were in the best place we could be. We were very fortunate to have such amazing treatment there."
The trio will on Monday join their older brother, Harry, at primary school. It's a "huge" milestone for the family, Nicoll says.
"You are never quite sure if your babies would ever quite have a regular life after being born so prematurely.
"But they have thrived. They have met all their milestones and we've got the sign-off from extra care.
"They are amazingly happy, healthy and ready for school and we are so grateful for this."
Nicoll moved her family to Hawke's Bay just over two years ago and says she's here to stay.
"It is a fantastic place to live and bring up kids."
And the triplets can't wait to start school with their older brother.
"Because Harry has been attending Te Mata Primary, they have been dropping him off.
"Harry loves being the older brother, loves leading. But now they are growing up they don't let him take the lead much any more. They are pretty excited to start school with him, though."
The three, who are fraternal but not identical triplets, have grown up with vastly different personalities, she says.
"Josh is pretty confident, Cam is very mild, easy-going. He's our 'chilled-out man'. Molly likes her pink, fluffy stuff, but she can beat the boys in a race.
"People describe them as really happy, lovable."
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for Nicoll and her husband.
"You get prepared that it's really hard when they are babies. The first year is really challenging.
"My husband works for police and he does shift work. It's a juggling act.
"But it eases, there is a lot of logistics involved. I am now a lot more chilled out, as long as they are looking half-way decent when they go out the door. None of them are hard work, but they have their moments."
The trio's hospital treatment and their recent fifth birthday have inspired Nicoll to start a Givealittle to fundraise for The Starship Foundation and The Neonatal Trust.
"I was inspired by [their] birthdays to enter the Hawke's Bay Marathon, and commit to raising some money for these amazing charities that do so much for kids all over the country.
"The Neonatal Trust covers Special Care Baby Units such as the one in Hawke's Bay as well as higher-risk NICUs. We are also going to create a story-board for the Auckland NICU entrance corridor."