Glenn Prattley's life was finally on track for the first time in years - he had beaten Crohn's disease, met the love of his life and had a baby girl.
But on Tuesday it was ripped away from him.
The last time he saw his partner she was desperately trying to protect their 5-week-old daughter. They are both believed to be buried beneath a building in Christchurch's city centre.
However, as Mr Prattley, 28, lies seriously injured in hospital he still has hope baby Taneysha and her mother, Kelsey Moore, are alive.
"I don't think his hope is fading. I think he's just building up his spirits that they're still out there ... that's probably what's keeping him going at the moment," Mr Prattley's mother, Gail, told the Weekend Herald.
Mrs Prattley does not share her son's hopes that his daughter and partner of 13 months are still alive.
"We don't hold a lot of hope for them, but we're just keeping that to ourselves because nothing's been said to him and they haven't formally been identified.
"But there have been a couple of bodies found in that specific area of a mother and a baby."
When the quake struck Mr Prattley was with baby Taneysha, Miss Moore and his sister at a central city bus stop.
His sister, Rochelle Prattley, 21, was about to catch a 2pm bus to go back to their parents' house in Dunedin.
"But as they were waiting, the quake hit. He pushed his sister out of the way of falling glass of the hairdressing shop on the corner ... he pushed her out of the way so the glass didn't fall on her head which would have killed her."
The siblings were knocked unconscious. When they woke up Taneysha and Miss Moore were gone.
"He saved Rochelle's life, but then he lost his daughter and his partner in the process," Mrs Prattley said.
She said Taneysha was a tiny baby and weighed only 2.6kg when she was born.
"She was gorgeous. Just a wee, wee, wee dot ... but they adored her, absolutely adored her. Kelsey adored the hell out of that little girl."