Above: Jeanya and her partner Levi with their baby Zephaniah.
Jeanya, aged 20, was almost 6 months pregnant when she started to experience excruciating headaches and high fevers. After weeks of seeing doctors, hospital visits and blood tests, the Brisbane woman was told she was fine and just needed some Panadol, rest and to increase her iron intake.
The day after coming home from the hospital for the second time, she came down with a fever and severe stomach pain. After being told by her sister she was probably having contractions, she was rushed back to the hospital by her partner Levi.
Doctors informed her it was likely a virus and that the pains were fake contractions that many women experience during pregnancy. Not long after she left the hospital she started vomiting jet black liquid. She returned to the hospital, was examined again then rushed to another hospital with the facilities to care for premature babies.
After a series of contractions, she was told she was 7cm dilated, and needed to undergo a caesarean. “It was all happening so fast. I was panicking,” Jeanya said.
“When I heard a nurse announce my son was born I was eager to see him but sadly I didn't get to hold him, he was rushed off to an incubator where he could be monitored by specialists and aided with breathing tubes. I cried for what felt like hours,” she said.
The next day Jeanya gathered enough strength and asked Levi to put her in a wheel chair to go see their son. “He looked so tiny and precious, I knew in that moment I had never loved someone as much as I loved our son,” she said. Later that day they officially named their son Zephaniah.
The next morning the doctor delivered the news that would change their lives forever. Jeanya had tested positive for Listeria, an illness caused by eating contaminated foods by the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. It had infected her uterus and also reached Zephaniah's brain.
“He told us that Zephaniah could not live without the machines and if he were to survive he would be severely disabled for the rest of his life. He would show no emotion or understanding. He would be basically in a comatose state. And worst of all, it was our choice whether or not to let him go. Levi and I were broken. Nothing could ever describe the pain we felt in that moment,” she said.
“But we both knew what we had to do and eventually Levi and I came to a decision and it was the hardest one we have ever had to make. We chose to let Zephaniah go and relieve him of his pain and suffering,” she said.
After the funeral Jeanya was admitted straight into the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition and was lucky to survive after contracting the life-threatening illness.
For further information on Listeria during pregnancy, and what foods to avoid, go to the Food Authority website.