At a picnic, Kate Kreider, a registered nurse, meets Jon Gosselin, a network engineer. "Everything clicked," Jon says. "It sort of felt together like it never felt before." On June 12, 1999, the couple marries in a friend's back yard in Wyomissing, Pa.
The newlyweds, desperate to have children, begin fertility treatments due to Kate's polycystic ovary syndrome. Their intrauterine insemination (IUI) results in the birth of their twin daughters, Cara Nicole and Madelyn Kate, on Oct. 8, 2000.
Hoping to add one more baby to their family, the Gosselins begin fertility treatments again. "We figured we would have twins again," Kate tells PEOPLE. But she ends up pregnant with sextuplets. On May 10, 2004, Jon and Kate welcome Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel. "I've fought through a pregnancy where every minute was a battle," Kate says. "I will not fail my kids."
Discovery Health produces a documentary about the Gosselins' family life, and TLC picks up the family for their own show, Jon & Kate Plus 8. "We call it the family job," Kate explains of raising their brood on camera. The Gosselins are a big draw, becoming the network's highest rated series, with 2 million weekly viewers.
The couple have a second wedding ceremony in Maui, Hawaii, with all eight of their kids in attendance. Twins Cara and Mady serve as their parents' best woman and maid of honor, respectively. "Big news: We love each other, and our marriage is not about to crumble," Kate tells PEOPLE after the ceremony. Echoes Jon, "I'm not running away."
Kate writes the book Multiple Bles8ings, detailing her and Jon's journey of having and raising their eight children. It sells more than 272,000 copies, and is followed up with a picture book, Eight Little Faces. Both books make Kate a best-selling author by 2009.
Weeks before their fifth-season premiere, reports surface linking Jon to 23-year-old Deanna Hummel. Although he says, "I did not cheat on Kate," Jon does admit to showing "poor judgment." But the public scandal rocks Kate's world. "I don't know that we're in the same place anymore, that we want the same thing," she says in her first PEOPLE cover story.
The Gosselins file for divorce. "Jon's activities have left me no choice but to file legal procedures in order to protect myself and our children," Kate says in a statement. The mom of eight adds in a telling PEOPLE interview, "I've never quit anything in my life. It feels like I've failed." Weeks later, Jon moves on romantically and is eventually dropped from the show.
Kate competes on season 10 of Dancing with the Stars – and installs a dance floor in her Pennsylvania home to make time for both her kids and dance rehearsals. "My kids will always know where to find me," says the mother of eight. Dance pro Tony Dovolani, who appears on the cover of PEOPLE with Kate, says viewers will connect with his partner because "she represents every woman out there, and every woman deserves to do something for herself."
Gosselin makes a white-hot appearance on the cover of PEOPLE, showing off her smoking new bikini body. "I've worked really hard!" the Kate Plus Eight star tells PEOPLE of her fit figure. "Haven't I earned the right, at this point, to look good?" But the single mom hopes her sexy shape attracts more than media attention. "It would be nice if somebody noticed me, sure!" she says of her search for Mr. Right.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy of The Gosselins; Courtesy of The Gosselins; Courtesy of The Gosselins; Karen Alquist/TLC; TLC; amazon.com; WENN