‘Can you buy a box?’ I asked my hubby, Simon, 34, as he headed out to get groceries.
‘A box?’ he frowned.
‘Sorry,’ I said, racking my brain. ‘I don’t mean that...’
‘Bananas!’ I said at last.
It wasn’t the first time I’d struggled to find the right word. A busy mum of four, I was pregnant with our fifth. So when I stumbled over a sentence, everyone thought I had ‘baby brain’.
It wasn’t like this with the others, I thought, anxiously.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’d loved to cuddle babies. At school, I won a writing competition with a story about my future. I’m a mum of 10, I wrote. As I got older, I downsized my dream a little but I still longed to be a mother.
Simon and I met through The Scouts when we both volunteered at a camp for disabled children. When I was 16 we started dating. Kind, funny and sharing my love of the outdoors, he was my perfect match.
When I was 19, Simon proposed at our anniversary picnic on the beach. And, when I was 21, we married at a church by the ocean. Becoming a midwife, it wasn’t long before I welcomed our own bub.
Our good-natured son, Alexander, now eight, was followed by our happy-go-lucky girls, Gracie, six, and Sophia, four, and then full-of-beans Charlie, two. Then, last year, we lost our much wanted fifth baby due to an ectopic pregnancy.
Doctors said I might not be able to have another child. It was heartbreaking. We felt grateful and lucky to have our four wonderful kids, but we longed for one more to complete our family.
Then last October, Simon took a job in the NT so we moved our brood from Adelaide to Nhulunbuy, a 90-minute flight from Darwin. We loved being surrounded by nature and settled into outback life.
Our lost baby had been due on December 1, and when the day came around, the grief was still raw. But I’d been feeling a bit odd, and I was late. Could I be pregnant? I wondered.
Taking a test, I couldn’t believe my eyes when it turned positive. We’d been sent a miracle baby! When I excitedly shared the news with Simon, he was over the moon.
We were cautious, but couldn’t wait to meet our bub. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and low iron but, as a midwife, I knew how to take care of myself.
Then, at around 23 weeks, I noticed something strange. When I was talking, I’d say the wrong thing. At a dinner party, I even forgot my friend’s name. I felt absolutely drained, too.
‘It’s probably the pregnancy,’ people said. ‘Or the heat.’
Am I just being a hypochondriac? I wondered.
At 28 weeks, I saw a GP, and two weeks later I saw a specialist via Skype. They agreed something was wrong, but suggested I have more tests after the birth.
‘I can’t wait,’ I cried to Simon. After pushing, I was given a date two weeks later for an MRI scan in Darwin.
Then, I blacked out one morning when I was home alone with Charlie. ‘This really isn’t normal,’ I fretted. Leaving for my scan, I hugged the kids goodbye.
‘Mummy will be back in two days,’ I told them. Waiting for the scan, I didn’t feel nervous. I assumed I had a complication from the diabetes. So when they rushed me to a hospital bed afterwards, I was stunned.
A consultant came to me with devastating news. ‘You have a 5.5cm tumour in your brain,’ he said.
‘There’s a high risk you could have a seizure, so we need to fly you to Adelaide to deliver the baby.’
My baby’s life is at risk, I thought, horrified. As the news sunk in, I broke down. When I told Simon, he was beside himself and arranged to meet me in Adelaide with the kids.
Arriving a day after me, they came straight to see me in hospital. I’m not going to leave you, I thought, hugging each of them tight.
A few days later, at 33 weeks, my bub was delivered by caesarean. When I woke up, I learned he was a boy, and he was doing well.
When my tiny son was placed on my chest, it was a magical moment. We’d already chosen the name Jesse for a girl, after a special family friend, but hadn’t yet settled on a boy’s name.
‘Let’s keep Jesse,’ Simon said. ‘It means gift, and that’s what he is.’
Two weeks later, I was well enough for surgery. When they opened my skull, they found the tumour had already grown to 7cm.
Eighty per cent of it was removed, but the rest couldn’t be operated on without damaging my brain. Tests showed the growth was a stage four glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer, and it was incurable.
It was the most devastating thing I could have heard.
‘I can’t leave Simon and the kids,’ I sobbed, terrified. I had way too much to live for.
I’m now undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy to manage the tumour.
My older children know mummy is sick, but we have some difficult conversations ahead. It’s unthinkable that I might not see my beautiful kids grow up.
When I hold Jesse, I know he’s proof miracles do happen. There’s no way I’ll give up without a fight.
To follow Felicity's story and to help with medical bills visit gofundme.com/felicity-simon-fight-brain-cancer