A former Newshub reporter has spoken of her anguish after losing her unborn baby - and nearly her life - to listeria.
Brigitte Purcell, her husband and five-and-a-half-month unborn child were flying home from a holiday in Europe when her health quickly started to deteriorate. Soon after arriving back in New Zealand she couldn't move from the fetal position and could barely open her eyes.
The next day, things got so bad an ambulance was called and she was hospitalised.
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"At this stage I was having difficulty breathing so he checked my lungs with an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok," Purcell wrote in a Facebook post republished by Newshub with her permission.
"From there he asked if we wanted to see our baby boy. We elatedly said yes but our excitement quickly turned to terror as we saw our five-and-a-half-month-old baby boy motionless on the screen."
A dedicated team of doctors and nurses began conducting tests to find out what had killed the baby. Then they found a possible cause - Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were found in her blood.
Listeria is a foodborne bacteria, most likely to be found in processed meats, pre-prepared salads and soft cheese. It can cause miscarriage, premature labour or stillbirth in pregnant women. Research has found about half of very young infants infected with listeria will not survive.
Purcell herself is vegan, so avoids animal products including meats and cheese.
The doctors decided she needed to birth the baby quickly due to sepsis infection risk, and Purcell was given misoprostol to induce labour.
"They believed I was going to die"
"After 10 minutes of taking the medication I started to shake uncontrollably, I could hardly breathe, I felt freezing cold, and my body was starting to shut down," she wrote.
"I could barely breathe, leading to my heart rate peaking at 230bpm, my blood oxygen levels dropping to 65 percent, my blood pressure plummeting to a level that was immeasurable and my temperature soared from 38 to 40.7C."
Both her nurse and her midwife thought she was going to die - but by some miracle she managed to survive. However Purcell says this seemed small compared to what was about to come.
"About an hour after nearly losing my life my uterus started contracting, preparing to deliver my son, Jude," she wrote on Facebook.
"Before I knew it, my darling boy had been delivered. His eyes closed, a tiny little nose and mouth, sweet little nails at the end of his tiny fingers. Perfect in every way possible.
"He was the boy I had grown in my body for nearly six months and longingly loved his entire life. But his feet are never going to walk this earth, my arms are never going to get to hold him tight, I'll never be able to read him bedtime stories and I'll never hear him giggle."
"The grief is unbearable and utterly consuming"
Purcell says the grief is "unbearable and utterly consuming".
"I have so many questions and so many 'what if's'," she writes.
"How did this happen? Why us? Questions are slowly being answered, but many we will never find the answer to.
"For now, we are all trying to conceive what has happened and grieve through losing a son, brother, nephew, and grandson. This is going to take a lot of time and some wounds will never heal. But the support of our friends and family has been so crucial in moving forward.
"Please take a moment to send your thoughts and prayers to our darling Jude. A boy who I know has a beautiful energy that's probably too powerful for earth. Maybe one day he will join us on this earth but for now his precious soul is needed elsewhere.
"We will love you always, sweetheart xxx Mum and Dad xxx"