Stacey Carey, 34, had always dreamed of being a mother, from the time she and her sisters were little girls.
"We always talked about how when we got older, we were going to have kids," Stacey's sister, Ellie, said. "And our kids were all going to be close, and be friends."
After struggling for years with her husband, Brendan, to start a family, Stacey gave birth 11 months ago to premature sextuplets who survived all odds after weighing just around two pounds at birth.
This Mother's Day, "Good Morning America" and chef Emeril Lagasse selected Stacey as a mom to celebrate, one who is a supermom to her older daughter, Julianna, and whose love has kept her magnificent six alive against all the medical odds.
Today on "GMA," Lagasse surprised Stacey at her family's home in the Philadelphia area by showing up at her doorstep and serving her a breakfast of waffles with candied bacon, fresh fruit and a fruit smoothie in a bed on her front lawn.
Also on hand to celebrate Stacey as a mom were the local high school's marching band, her neighbors, her family and the friends who nominated her as a supermom.
"We just love you so much and you've been through so much," friend Colleen DiCandeloro told her. "You're amazing, so Happy Mother's Day."
In addition to breakfast in bed, Lagasse also served Stacey a diaper cake, but a non-edible one she and Brendan can use to help with the hundreds of diapers the family goes through each week.
The Careys also received a $5,000 check and breakfast for a year, all courtesy of the team at Thomas' English Muffins.
"It's unbelievable," Stacey said on "GMA." "I'm a little overwhelmed."
Against All OddsNow that six happy, peaceful little faces brighten up Stacey's life, no one could tell that she was staging a desperate vigil less than a year ago, praying they all would survive.
In her job as a teacher, Stacey was surrounded by kids day in and out. At home, however, she and husband Brendan struggled to start their family.
"It was really important to have kids," Brendan Carey said. "I mean, her theory was there'd be no point in getting married ever, if kids weren't in the situation."
Her family says that Stacey is a very private person, but they saw in her eyes that she was hurting as she struggled for one of the major missing elements of her life.
"Stacey had to go through the showers for Ellie [her sister], buying baby furniture, and I know she would go home and Brendan would say, 'Yeah, she came home crying,' thinking it would never happen [for her]," Stacey's mom, Peggy Malachoski, said.
"I look up to her as someone who is so brave, so courageous, so loving you know, she means everything to me," Ellie said.
Finally, after six long years of trying, the couple's miracle baby, Julianna, came along.
"When she had Julianna, she was just the world to her," Stacey's sister-in-law, Danielle Gronczewski, said.
The couple wanted little Julianna to have a sibling, so within a year Stacey was pregnant again. But this time, there was a surprise.
"She called me and she says, 'I'm pregnant.' And I said, 'Oh my god, that's great.' And she says, 'But with six babies.' And I said, 'Excuse me,'" Ellie recalled.
For Stacey, six babies growing inside of her came with a mixture of joy and fear. Dr. Gerard Cleary, medical director at Abington Hospital's Neonatal ICU, says that six present an "extraordinarily high risk for both mom and the babies."
Stacey, however, was determined.
"What [Stacey] said to me was, 'God wouldn't give me more than I can handle,'" friend Claire Leotta said.
That theory was put to the test when two months before the babies were born Stacey was admitted to the hospital, where her husband says she did not leave her room for 60 days. He compared it to a prison cell for his wife. Her friends describe a woman on the edge.
"I've just never really seen her unglued, and you could just see in her face how difficult it was for her," friend DiCandeloro said.
Finally, on June 1, 2011, there was no more waiting for Stacey and Brendan. The babies came 13 weeks early: Emma, Samantha, Olivia, John, Patrick and Conner. Teeny, tiny bundles of love, all between one and two pounds, arrived at last. For Stacey, her intense worry multiplied by six.
"They only had about a 5 percent chance of everybody being home. So we're not talking about a low risk situation," Dr. Cleary said.
Stacey's family says that everyone around her prayed, while the new mom remained relentlessly upbeat.
"I'd say, 'How's Emma doing today?' and she'd say, 'She'll have a better day tomorrow,'" John Carey, Stacey's father-in-law, remembers. "You know, she kept herself probably calm for Brendan and the family."
"I've never met somebody in my life that was just so able to overcome these things in her life, and she did it like it was a breeze," her sister, Katie Horan, said. "She's someone who I look up to very much and aspire to be like."
Slowly, the fragile babies came home, in what family members describe as a miracle. But they weren't out of the woods yet. During the winter, more hospital visits came, with baby Patrick struggling the most.
"Patrick, he wanted his mommy," Stacey's sister, Ellie, recalled. "He wanted to be held. And when she put him down to leave, she used to get so upset. Because she said that he would struggle more with his breathing when he wasn't being held. So she'd say, 'I just wanted to be there with him all the time.'"
As winter gave way to spring, Brendan and Stacey's sextuplets all started to get stronger. Today they are still defying expectations.
"A lot of how well a premature baby does depends on the home they go to," Dr. Cleary says. "They are doing as well as they are because of how great a mom she is.
With love and support and tears of joy, Stacey's proud family, friends, and loved ones are wishing the joyful mom a very happy Mother's Day as she continues to care for her miracle six.
"You know we all love you and we're just so proud of the mom that you are," Claire says. "I don't know how you do it every day."