'It was our choice whether or not to let our baby boy go'
HEADACHES and fevers during pregnancy can often be caused by a number of run-of-the-mill illnesses.
In Jeanya's case, when she was six months along with her baby boy in October last year, her symptoms pointed at something very concerning.
After number of specialists appointments and emergency room visits, doctors all came back to her with the same response - that it was a virus and she should take some Panadol, rest and increase her iron.
However, one night, after being turned away from the Emergency Room at a south east Queensland hospital for a second time, Jeanya went to her sister's place, where she started having stomach cramps.
Her sister, a mother-of-three, told her the first-time mum she was having contractions and in the first phases of labour.
About to give birth prematurely, Jeanya says her nerves were about more than giving birth.
"I was so scared, not only because I was only six months in but because I was worried they would send me home again and not take me seriously," she says.
On her way to the hospital with partner Levi, the couple timed the contractions to be eight minutes apart.
However, once in hospital, a number of tests suggested Jeanya wasn't in labour.
"The doctors told me that it was more than likely a virus and that the pains were 'fake contractions' that many women experience during pregnancy," she recalls.
While doctors decided to keep the mother-to-be in hospital overnight for observation, Levi went home to get some rest before work the next day.
But then… it all started happening.
"Not long after he had left the hospital I started vomiting.
"A doctor came to check on me and she became instantly concerned as my vomit was jet black."
"Her face looked worried as she told me 'your 1cm dilated, we need to get you to Mater right away' as Mater has the facilities required for premature bubs.
"I was frozen in shock as I rode in the ambulance to the Mater Hospital by myself."
Hours later, after a raft of checks from doctors and midwives, Jeanya was told she was 7cm dilated but with the doctor able to feel a foot, she was rushed into an emergency cesarean section.
"I was rushed to the operating room and was prepped for my epidural injection. Which took 4 painful attempts as I kept having contractions while the needle was in my back," she says.
Not able to see what was going on made Jeanya a little anxious wondering if her son was OK.
"When I heard a nurse announce that he was born I was dying 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."
Summoned to their doctors office the next morning, the new parents were given some devastating news.
"He calmly and empathetically delivered to us the most shattering news we have ever heard to this day… I had tested positive for Listeria.
"It had infected my uterus and also reached Zephaniah's brain.
"He told us that Zephaniah could not live without the machines that aid him 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 be in a comatose state."
Making their pain much harder was the fact their little one's fate was squarely in their hands.
"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."
While their son was on life support, they took their time with their decision.
"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."
Describing her son's last moments, Jeanya says she and Levi were able to hold him till his final breath.
"When he turned cold in my arms it felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest…I will never forget the pure pain of that moment."
The pair are now sharing the story of their loss, eight months on after his passing.
Jeanya says she's being more open and vulnerable than ever before to both honour their son and celebrate their strength in adversity.
"I know that this story is very confronting and some may wonder why I've chosen to share this with the world.
"I am truly proud of how strong I am as a woman and as a mother. This experience has genuinely changed Levi and I.
"We miss Zephaniah every single day as he was so loved and touched the hearts of so many people. It's not just our story, it's his."
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.