Real Life

Twin joy turns to tragedy

After her wish for a family came true, this mum’s dream was soon shattered.

We all have some years that are more eventful than others, but an Auckland mum has had more life-changing moments recently than most. In less than 12 months Julie Nohe found and married her soulmate, gave birth to twins and then tragically had to farewell one.

Julie (40), of Auckland, will remember 2011 as the most bittersweet year of her life. From New Year’s Eve, when she fell in love with her now-husband, Pete, to their engagement later that month and their wedding in March, the year could not have got off to a better start.

Both members of Destiny’s Church, the pair were merely acquaintances and Julie, who has a son, Damion (21), from a previous relationship, had been praying to meet her match. When she went on a date with another man, she remembers thinking, “I wish he was Pete,” and when they played touch rugby together she could feel her feelings for him grow.

Pete (39) admits he fancied Julie for a while – allowing her to score tries at touch rugby and working out harder at the gym when he saw her on the treadmill. “But she walked straight past me! Didn’t even recognise me.”

When they found themselves celebrating New Year’s Eve together, they finally shared their true feelings after Julie asked Pete to go for a walk. Although he had been single for 15 years, it was only a matter of weeks before Pete felt ready to commit to Julie and he asked her to marry him in January, organising a picnic where he would propose.

“I got some candles, petals, and grape juice, and the ring. Music was playing and there was a romantic sunset,” he says. And it was all caught on camera by Pete’s nephew who’d been hiding in the bushes to capture the happy event. They were married in March and before their big day Julie and her bridesmaids all prayed for Julie to conceive twins.

“We had this big prayer session about wanting to conceive twins,” Julie explains. “We’ve always wanted two, so we could have our little family after nine months,” says Pete. They were delighted when their prayer was answered just three weeks after their wedding day. But they didn’t count on the heartache and grief which came when their two identical babies were born prematurely at 26 weeks gestation.

Zion was the healthiest and weighed 1.18kg, but it was touch and go with Israel from the start. He weighed just 740g and had two holes in his heart. Israel endured hundreds of medical treatments before he died at only 79 days old. “He had 200 blood tests. He had two lumbar punctures, suppositories, dye put through his body, jaundice,” says Julie.

”They put him on steroids and then a drug to slow down his heart rate, and six shots of adrenalin at one stage. They tried drugs on Israel that they’d never tried in the neonatal intensive care unit before. “He died four times before he went the fifth time. I only got to hold him on three different occasions,” Julie says quietly.

Israel passed away two days after his brother Zion was allowed to go home. “Some people have said they think Israel was waiting for Zion to go home,” says Julie. “At his tangi, Pete did a haka as his son was laid to rest. He was so emotional, he broke the spade that was meant to fill the grave.

“We’ll always keep Israel alive. We will be giving all his photos to Zion for his 21st present. “The boys are identical so I’ll never have to wonder what he would have looked like. We’re so thankful for the time we had with him.”

After the most trying period of their lives, Julie says she and Pete would love to have another child. “I want a daughter and I’ve already got her name picked out: Desire – because I’ve desired her all my life.”

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