Yes, it’s true! Jenny-May is sporting a new addition – a gorgeous wee baby bump. And what’s more, she’s carrying twins!
The much-loved TVNZ presenter is thrilled and, if she’s entirely honest, a little terrified to announce that she and her husband Dean are expecting a double delivery, due next April.
When the 41-year-old walked down the aisle in September, after a whirlwind romance that melted our hearts, she and Dean had a little secret. She was 11 weeks pregnant, just shy of being ready to share her wonderful news.
They’d let their families know, as well as a few close friends, although not completely out of choice. Jenny-May’s mates smelled a rat during her hens’ party!
“Everybody knows that I like a drink, so when you turn up and you don’t pour yourself a glass, they straight away go, ‘Pregnant!’” she laughs.
Jenny-May and Dean certainly don’t muck around. They were engaged 11 days after they first met and, after they’d so quickly fallen in love with one another, it wasn’t long until they discussed adding to their family. Dean is the father of two daughters, Libby-Jane (10) and Leah (8), from his previous marriage.
“I remember Jenny-May asking me if I’d ever want to have children again, while we were driving,” tells Dean (40), who is visibly bursting with pride about their news.
“And I said, ‘Of course! I’d love to give you children, absolutely, if it’s at all possible.’ So we said a little karakia [prayer] in the hope that it could happen for us – just like we’d each hoped all that time ago that we might meet someone and fall in love.”
And true to form, things all happened pretty fast from there. Thinking it may take many months – perhaps even years – to get pregnant, and with their wedding already firmly locked in place, they began trying for a baby.
While organising their wedding rings to be carved from a block of greenstone (Jenny-May also had a pounamu made for Dean’s 40th from the same block, as well as one for both Libby-Jane and Leah), it occurred to her to get an extra two necklaces made. “Just in case a miracle happened!” she smiles. “But I never thought we’d be getting two at the same time!”
Not long after, Jenny-May was starting to feel a little uncomfortable during the evenings and her suspicions were aroused. She did a couple of pregnancy tests, but nothing showed up. Then one night, Dean’s daughters climbed into their bed during the night.
“We basically got pushed out by them,” recalls Dean, “so we moved to Libby’s room to sleep. But Jenny-May wasn’t sleeping well and I felt her get up at about 5am.”
In fact, she’d snuck back into their room to retrieve another pregnancy test – again, not really expecting much from it.
“I put the stick down on the sink and there was just one line, so I thought, ‘Okay, definitely not pregnant,’” she tells. “I washed my hands and as I was drying them, I turned around and saw the second line forming the cross. I looked at it... and then I just sat down for a little bit... still looking at it.” Consulting the packet to make sure she wasn’t imagining things, she took the test and tip-toed back to Dean.
“I said, ‘Babe, are you awake?’ And he was sleepy and just mumbled, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no – are you awake? Are you awake?!’ I showed him the test and he just cried.”
“That’s not unusual, though. Is it?” laughs Dean.
It was Dean who had an overwhelming feeling they’d soon be parents to twins and starting ribbing Jenny-May about it. “We’d get in her little car and I’d say, ‘Babe, we’re going to need a bigger car. I reckon a seven-seater!’” he chuckles.
Very early on, the couple decided to tell Dean’s girls, bringing them along on this amazing journey.
“We could have waited until the 12-week mark, but we didn’t want them to hear it from someone else,” says Dean. “And we felt it was important to share that time because birth and death are both part of life. As a family, we celebrate and grieve together, so we explained that we were in a time period where anything could happen.”
Anything really could have happened. A week later, they went in for the first scan. Jenny-May had already pinned down a midwife and she wanted to know how far along she was.
“I was pretty naïve,” admits Jenny-May. “I’d never done this before, and the woman said, ‘Okay, so there’s two sacs.’ Nothing registered – I just thought that must be normal.”
The ultrasound continued and the first baby’s heartbeat was found. “She said, ‘Okay, I’ll just go down here a bit. Oh, yes, there’s another little heartbeat.’ There was just silence from me. The penny still hadn’t dropped. I kept looking at the screen until she spelled it out. She said, ‘Soooo, you’re having twins!’ I looked at Dean – he was smiling through his tears, and it was clear he’d worked it out at the beginning of the scan. Meanwhile, I just swore!”
Jenny-May says at first it was a lot to get her head around, and admits there were a few tears, born out of fear and worry. Despite Dean’s predictions, she was completely blindsided by the news.
"Even though there are three sets of twins in my family!” she laughs. “I’d never thought about that, though – two of my brothers and one of my brother’s sons have twins!"
Now that she’s had time to process the news, she says she understands what a blessing she’s been given, but it took her a few weeks to stop – in her words – “freaking out”.
“I feel really bad about that now because I have so many friends trying to have just one, and many of them are going through IVF, which is hard work. And I have two on the way! But I was so thrown. Now I know it’s a beautiful thing – although I’m under no illusions. I know it’s certainly not going to be easy. But at the end of the day, to be blessed with two babies, and at our age, is pretty cool.”
They even managed to sneak a reference to their babies into their wedding – subtly, of course – in Jenny-May’s vows. Although she became stepmum that day to Libby-Jane and Leah, it had added meaning when she said, tearfully, to Dean, “Thank you for giving me the family I’ve always wanted,” prompting him to squeeze her hand. “That was my undercover nod to it all,” smiles a radiant Jenny-May.
Yes, it all really does sound like the stuff of fairytales. But, unfortunately, there’s another side to this story, which doesn’t quite follow the storybook script.
In recent months, both have faced health battles. Just three nights after their laid-back but emotionally charged wedding, Dean was admitted to hospital for, among other symptoms, chest pains. Jenny-May was particularly worried because she knew this was coming off the back of some worrying test results.
“Months earlier, Dean had been having some trouble with his back, but then the pain went away,” tells Jenny-May. “I said to him, ‘That doesn’t sound like your back, that’s your kidneys.’” She got in touch with her trusted doctor, who had seen her through her days as a Silver Fern, and encouraged Dean to get tested.
“He was a bit reluctant, but I felt it was important,” says Jenny-May. “Here I was, having found the man of my dreams and wanting to spend as much time as I possibly can with him. But I knew something wasn’t quite right.”
At the doctor’s insistence, Dean had a raft of tests – kidneys, liver, cholesterol, the works. Says Jenny-May quietly, “The numbers came back and the results were, ‘Dean, you’re in trouble.’”
It was just as he was due for his three-month follow-up when he landed in hospital with the chest pains. And that wasn’t good news. “My liver is pretty much stuffed,” says Dean with characteristic practicality.
“As an adult male, my alanine aminotransferase (ALT) score should be no more than 57. Jenny-May’s is 15. Mine is 141.
“The doctor said, ‘You’ve got two months to make significant changes, otherwise you won’t make it past 50 – and you might not last that long.’ She didn’t need to tell me that I wouldn’t be around to enjoy my twins, my daughters or my wife.”
Immediately, Dean made a commitment to embark on a two-month life makeover. It’s hard, but the couple are approaching it, like most things, with love and humour.
“I’m gonna have to backtrack on what I said at the wedding about not doing CrossFit!” laughs Dean, who has begun a healthy diet and exercise routine. As a truck driver, he says he’s got a few laughs out of it already.
“People do a bit of a double-take when they see you’re eating a salad, not a pie!”
As if Dean’s health concerns weren’t enough cause for worry, at the same time, the couple were also coming to terms with the news that Jenny-May has a “massive lump” on her breast.
She underwent a biopsy last week and much to their relief, the results – which she received shortly after our photos were taken – showed it was a benign fibroadenoma they will continue to monitor. Although they are optimistic, the scare did mean the newlyweds had to give some thought to what would happen if it was not a happy result.
“Last week, we talked about it, just checking in with each other to see how we were feeling about it,” tells Dean. “And Jenny-May said, ‘Whatever happens, the twins come first. If it’s the worst-case scenario, I’m not doing anything that might cause harm to them.’ There were a lot of tears that night and we prayed together again. That’s just another example of what kind of woman she is. She always puts everyone else before herself.”
Dean says it wouldn’t be fair to say these things have brought them closer together – their bond is unbreakable. But the drama has reinforced the reasons why he truly loves his wife. “I have no doubt in my mind, because of the love that we share, that we’ll conquer anything. We’ve confronted this together and rather than pulling us apart, these things are deepening our love.”
And if Jenny-May needed any extra reminder about the kind of man she’s married, he’s certainly proved his might in recent weeks. He’s taken the day off work for every doctor’s appointment – including her biopsy.
Dean says, “I want to blow that stereotype out of the water about males being useless at supporting their wives. I’ll be at every appointment because we committed to this journey, together. Together doesn’t mean me asking her, ‘How did it go?’ It means going on the journey with her and being by her side. When I say, ‘I’ve got your back’ to another person, this is what I mean.”
It’s a lot to lay out on the table – sharing their baby news, as well as their deeply personal health battles – but this couple say it’s what matters to them. They shared their wedding story to give people hope that true love is real and can happen if you open yourself to it. Now they’re sharing the next chapter of the story for similar reasons.
The couple are hoping for a long, happy life together, but they now know that like true love, you sometimes have to get off your butt and do something about your health, to ensure that long, happy life can happen.
“I’ve been telling all my mates to get themselves checked,” says Dean. “There are various reasons as to why I’ve got to this point and why my body is so messed up, but I’m talking to everyone saying, if it’s one blood test to find out, it’s better to know now. I would have kept living this way – eating badly, not exercising, drinking... but now I know I can turn this around.”
Jenny-May nods. “It’s been a wake-up call. Yes, it’s hard that you finally start to think you’ve got there, you’re 40 and you’ve found your soulmate, you’re starting a family and life is going to be amazing, and then this hits. But it reminds us to live in the moment, appreciating the small things and every day we’re here together. It’s about being grateful. Life can take so many twists and turns, but we’ve got this, so long as we’re strong together.”
“Yep,” says Dean, smiling at his wife. “As much as our last story was beautiful, this next chapter doesn’t take anything away from it. We’re embracing it the same way we did the first one – with love – because that’s how we’ve chosen to embrace it. It’s who we are.”
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