It's been nearly 10 years since Melbourne mum Adriana Condello was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and she can still remember her fear about what it would mean for her future.
"All I knew about it was from a video I'd seen in primary school about a woman who had MS and she was in a wheelchair," the 36-year-old tells Woman's Day.
At the time, the newly qualified accountant hadn't given much thought to motherhood but while MS doesn't affect fertility, Adriana's doctors explained she would have to come off her medication during conception and pregnancy, which could lead to a relapse.
Full of trepidation, Adriana talked this over with her partner Mark.
"It broke my heart to think we might never have a baby," Adriana remembers. "I told him it was my battle and he could leave me if he wanted."
But Mark, 37, who married Adriana in 2014, promised he'd never leave her side.
With medication, the numbness and constant tingling stopped, but Adriana struggled with depression.
Mark's love and support, as well as volunteering for MS Research Australia and throwing herself into fundraising, helped Adriana get through the dark days.
And soon after their wedding, Adriana came off her medication and the couple began trying for a baby.
Although she didn't relapse, Adriana faced the heartbreak of suffering four miscarriages.
Then, after trying IVF and having one failed attempt, a six-week scan showed Adriana was pregnant.
"This baby really was our little miracle," Adriana recalls. "But because I'd been off my medication for so long, I feared I'd relapse and was petrified we'd lose this baby, too."
But an ultrasound at eight weeks showed no issues except, shockingly, there were two babies!
Now mum to her miracle twins, Olivia and Leo, four, there was more joy for Adriana and Mark when they welcomed daughter, Zoe, now 16 months.
After a recent MS relapse, Adriana now has her beautiful family trained up to help whenever she needs extra support.
"When I have bad days, Mark and our families are incredible and step in to take care of me and the kids," she says.
"I'm blessed with three beautiful children, too, and when I'm not well, they'll climb into bed and ask me where it hurts so they can kiss it better."
World MS Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness, support and connect the 2.8 million people living with MS worldwide and their families.
To get involved online, hold or attend events, share experiences of and tips for connecting, or lobby politicians to make positive changes for people affected by MS, visit worldmsday.org
- PuzzlesThe Australian Women's Weekly July Issue Online Entry
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