Moment mum finally gets to hug her 3-month-old triplets
Adelaide's tiniest trio of battlers have been embraced in a single hug by their mum for the very first time, three months after they were born.
Identical twins Harrison and Lincoln and their brother Benjamin Shillabeer were born 14 weeks premature, thousands of kilometres from home.
Mum Madeline Hewitt, 31, flew to Brisbane when she was 25 weeks pregnant in the hope doctors in that state could perform surgery to help baby Harrison, who was suffering from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and failing to thrive.
The procedure wasn't possible but the triplets were born at 26 weeks before Ms Hewitt was able to get back to Adelaide, Lincoln arriving first weighing 770g, Harrison next at 650g and Benjamin last at 975g.
A series of complications delayed the triplets' transfer by air to the Women's and Children's until late last month.
Two of the siblings are now being cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit while baby Harrison is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Ms Hewitt has hugged her three boys at once for the first time for a Sunday Mail photo shoot, in what she describes as an incredibly special moment.
"I do get my cuddles with Harrison but it isn't easy as he has so many lines in his arms and is still on oxygen … I've never, ever got to hug him and his brothers at the same time before," she said.
"Even though the boys are so small they've each their own personalities and little quirks - Lincoln loves the attention, Benjamin is the quiet one and Harry is full of charm and has the nurses wrapped around his little finger."
While statistics vary, it is estimated conceiving triplets naturally occurs one in every 9000 births.
The kitchen hand, who also has a two-year-old daughter, Saphire, with her former partner and father of the triplets, has paid tribute to the staff who have looked after her and her babies, here and interstate and those at Ronald McDonald house, describing the charity that provided her a place to stay to be close to her babies "a lifesaver".
Ms Hewitt says she doesn't know what the future holds for her young family and what, if any, developmental and ongoing health problems her beloved boys will have.
"It is tough because all you want to do is make them all better … but they've come this far and I am taking one day at a time - they are strong boys, I just think how much they have been through and that keeps me together," she said.
It's hoped baby Lincoln may be released today or tomorrow with Benjamin, recovering from eye laser surgery, allowed out during the week.
Harrison is due to undergo surgery on Tuesday and will likely remain hospital for a month after that.
The young family, now living with Ms Hewitt's mum, is seeking a suitable home to rent in Elizabeth South.