Chris Corbett was on holiday in South Africa when Shimon Bobbout first saw him. "I was with a group of friends," recalled Shimon, "and as soon as he walked in, all of us literally looked at each other and said, 'Who's the dish?'" The two clicked right away.
Chris, who was based in Sydney, was in South Africa visiting his mom. Shimon and Chris enjoyed a holiday romance that resulted in a very special simultaneous connection. "I had mentioned to Chris that I was looking to start a family, thinking at the back of my mind that he would run for the hills," said Shimon. "However, he totally surprised me with such support and shared that he had the exact same intensions."
Their relationship started off long distance. Shimon then moved to Koh Samui, Thailand, to work as General Manager on his family's resort. Chris used to fly to Singapore regularly for work, and it made it much easier for the two of them to see each other. "Singapore to Koh Samui is only a 1hr 20mins flight," explained Shimon. "We saw each other for a week every month and in the background we were in the process of our surrogacy journey in South Africa."
Chris and Shimon's surrogacy journey started off hopeful and exciting. The couple selected their egg donor, found their surrogate, and were pregnant with twins the very first transfer. "It was impossible to control our emotions and with all the excitement, we told all of our friends we were pregnant," said Shimon.
Unfortunately, not long after the news, their surrogate had a miscarriage. "It was devastating for us," said Shimon. "When you are so high with emotions, knowing you have a set of twins on the way, it is cemented in your mind that it is happening. So when you receive the news they are gone, it is not something you want to process."
The couple then had to explain to everyone they told that they had lost the twins; they were devastated. "Each element of the process was sound," continued Shimon. "The surrogate's uterus was healthy, the egg quality was healthy and the sperm was, too … but the combination of all these elements simply did not gel."
Chris and Shimon were determined to continue along their path and were optimistic that the next time it would work out. They continued with the same surrogate but changed egg donors, and attempted their second round of IVF. Nothing happened. So they tried their third. Again, nothing happened.
"At this point, fast forward one year, we were emotionally exhausted and financially stressed," said Shimon. "There were all sorts of theories going through our minds, such as maybe this is not meant to be? Maybe it's a sign? Can we afford to do it again? Will the 4th attempt break our confidence?"
But they moved ahead with their 4th attempt. And their surrogate became pregnant.
The dads were thrilled. Their surrogate did a blood test and the dads waited until the next morning for confirmation of the positive pregnancy test.
When they phoned the next day and asked for the results of the blood test, the dads started to become anxious when the nurse said they had to come in and speak with the clinical psychologist. "At this point my heart dropped because I assumed the very worst," said Shimon.
When they arrived for their appointment, the clinical psychologist sat them down to say that normal HCG levels at 4 weeks pregnancy is around 60-120mlU/mL and hers were... over 2000! She then proceeded to tell Shimon (Chris was in Sydney during this appointment): "Please don't freak out. Although this does indicate a multiple birth, it could just mean a very hyperactive baby too."
It wasn't until their first scan that Shimon found out they were expecting triplets.
"I went pale and silent for a few minutes, and could not get a word out," recalled Shimon. "It was a lot to process. I was happy, I was excited, I was sad, I was nervous." He was re-assured by the clinic that they would support him with anything I need to understand how to cope with triplets. By that time, Shimon was already living in Thailand as he had committed to working there, so there was a bit of flying back and forth throughout the process.
Fast forward 33 weeks, at 2am one morning, Shimon's brother calls him to say that his surrogate's water had broken and she was on her way to hospital. He and Chris jumped on the next plane home and made it there just in time. They were in the operating theatre for the entire process.
"It was a 'Full House' as the doctor put it," said Chris. "There was literally no space to move. Inside was the two of us, the surrogate and her partner, the gynecologist and his two assistants, the pediatrician and his three assistants - he needed three assistants as you have to have one per child." The surgeon said it was the most amount of people he had ever seen in an operating room for a childbirth.
As each child came out, they were handed over to the pediatrician to be checked. Shimon and Chris anxiously observed to get the all clear that each newborn was healthy. "There were tears, there was laughter and there was the relief that our three little bundles of joy were finally here."
Over the next 8 years, the family of five went through tens of thousands of diapers, a purchase of 7-seater car, and many – many – sleepless nights. "In the beginning it's like a rollercoaster ride at Disney Land that just doesn't end," explained Shimon. "But then all of a sudden, you adjust to the turbulence, you find your rhythm and everything stabilizes."
Today the family lives in Melbourne, Australia, which they love for it's incredibly diverse and accepting community. "And having a family gave me that extra diversity in my life," added Shimon. "Certainly turned it upside down for a while, but has bought us so much joy."
Be sure to follow this family's adventures on Instagram: @the_real_dads_of_australia