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News Every Day |

I didn’t want to be here after my baby was born, depression took away all my new-mum happiness, says Jess Wright

WHEN you look at Jess Wright’s Instagram, you would be forgiven for thinking she was living in a fairy tale.

In May, the 36 year old gave birth to a baby boy, Presley, after discovering she was pregnant days after tying the knot with business owner husband William Lee-Kemp, 34, last September.

Jess Wright has opened up about her post-natal depression for the first time
Mark Hayman
Instagram/Jess Wright
Jess welcomed baby boy Presley with business owner husband William Lee-Kemp last September[/caption]

She has shared picture-perfect posts since with her 1.5m Instagram followers, but behind the scenes, the new mum felt so bad that at one point her husband found her collapsed at their home, crying inconsolably, saying: “I don’t want to be here.”

That was when they both knew they needed to ask for help. 

Speaking for the first time about how low she was, Jess says she felt paralysed with fear about whether or not she was a good mum, and terrified she would be criticised by the public for doing things wrong.

“Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. I knew it was going to be tough, but unless you’re living it 24/7, no one can describe it… it’s a rollercoaster.

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“It’s not all rainbows and magic – it’s f**king tough.

“It’s the reality of looking after another human being and wanting the best for that child in every single way – and judging yourself.”

Now that she’s come through the toughest of times, she is clear she wants to be as open as she can about how being a new mum can be one of the hardest points in a woman’s life.

“I really wanted to get to the point where I was happy and to speak to Fabulous to spread the word and say to any mum in my position that you do come through it.

“Something just clicks and you just feel it’s second nature,” she says.

Right from the start, Jess’ journey to becoming a mother was not straightforward.

When we spoke to her last year, she opened up about freezing her embryos several months earlier, as she’d been afraid of going through early menopause.

“[TV presenter] Zoe Hardman did a story about how her menopause came on at 37, after her mum’s had at 42.

“I’m 36 now and my mum went through it at 42. My Nanny Pat was young, too. Alarm bells were ringing in my head.

“I was 34 at the time and the pandemic was going on. William and I didn’t know when we were going to get married, but we were adamant we wanted that before having a child.

“So, six months before the wedding, we froze five embryos. It sounds really dramatic, but it meant that we’d got a safety net.” 

In the end, they didn’t need that safety net to get pregnant. 

“I said to my husband that I didn’t think we needed to be careful, because we were getting married in three weeks and the chances of falling pregnant straight away are so slim.

“Little did I know, I was pregnant at my wedding! And that was from not being careful once or twice.

‘I FELT GUILTY’

“When we found out, it was the biggest shock of our lives. We were obviously over the moon, but we knew things were going to change.”

When it came, the birth was traumatic.

The former TOWIE star had to have her baby boy delivered by emergency caesarean section five days before her due date, after concerns that he was struggling.

“I felt so much less movement from him the week before and I was so uncomfortable and breathless all the time. I was adamant that I wanted a natural birth.

“The doctor said they would induce me, but after 48 hours, I had barely slept and still hadn’t dilated half a centimetre.

“Then the baby’s heart rate started dropping, so I needed an emergency C-section.

“After he was born, he stopped breathing and his oxygen went really low.

“Then the following morning, his heart rate dropped again and he was doing this grunting thing, so he had to go into NICU [newborn intensive care unit].”

Having her newborn baby taken into a high-dependency ward was a million miles away from what Jess had dreamed about for the early days of motherhood.

“I remember crying: ‘Please give me my baby.’ He was on antibiotics, so I was panicking, thinking: ‘Will I be judged for that?’ I was really all over the place.

“I was breastfeeding, but I couldn’t really do it from NICU, so they put him on a bit of formula – and I felt guilty about that.

“Then seeing him in an incubator, he was so tiny and with all the stuff on him, it was horrible.”

After five long nights in hospital, Jess thought her troubles were behind her when she finally got to bring her baby back to her Essex home, but in fact, they had only just begun, as the depression she’d privately battled for over a decade returned.

I’m not debilitated, I have medication that controls it. I’ve sought help – I’ve done counselling and learned how to manage it.

Jess Wright

“When we got through the door, my mum [Carol, 62] and sister [Natayla, 21] had put up all these big gorgeous balloons with Presley’s name and birth weight on, and I just burst into tears.

“Will was like: ‘Are you OK?’ And I was like: ‘No.’ The only way I could describe it was like depression, because I’ve had that before and that’s exactly what it felt like. My home felt like a different place.”

While the family tried to find their feet, Jess struggled to adjust as her depression took grip.

“My dog Bella was there and I didn’t want Will to give the baby attention – I wanted him to give Bella attention, because I was devastated that she felt neglected.

“It gets me upset thinking about it now, which is ridiculous. [But] I’ll never have the feeling of coming home from the hospital and being happy because… depression took it away.”

Jess, who has been on antidepressants since she was prescribed them 10 years ago, when she was diagnosed with anxiety and mild depression, lessened her dosage while pregnant.

“I’m not debilitated, I have medication that controls it. I’ve sought help – I’ve done counselling and learned how to manage it.

“But when someone says: ‘How can someone  take their life? It’s so selfish…’

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been close [to taking my own life], but unless you’re going through it, you can’t understand it. It’s not selfish – it’s just that they physically can’t live feeling like that any more.”

She was completely overwhelmed with motherhood and her own mum was the first to realise something was wrong.

“I was so scared that I wasn’t doing it right. If I was changing him right, if I was burping him right.

“Obviously I was – I’m his mum, so my instincts were there. But my hormones were completely all over the place. I was a bit of a wreck. 

“I would worry that he would cry and I couldn’t stop him. I’d worry that he wasn’t going to poo, that he wasn’t falling asleep.

“I was terrified of the night feeds and felt that I’d lost my freedom. I was terrified that I didn’t know when I was going to ever sleep through the night again.

“At the beginning, that feeling was so daunting. I would just look at this baby, who was just so precious, and think: ‘My life is never going to be the same, because I want to go out and I can’t. Will I ever be able to work again?’ 

“My mum said: ‘I think when you have a baby later in life, it’s harder because you’ve had so much freedom for so long.

“To give that up is hard.’ I am that independent girl – I’ve travelled on my own and partied. To know I was giving that up [even though it was] for the best reason ever.”

Jess remembers trying to keep it all together when her family were there. “I wasn’t myself and they could tell.

“I couldn’t work the bottle machine and I was panicking about sterilisation. I was crying over everything.

“My dad [Mark, 65] was like: ‘What’s wrong with her?’ And then he said: ‘Remember, the baby feeds off of your mood,’ and that’s the worst thing you can say to a mother who’s low, because it made me feel worse.” 

She knew herself and recognised that the negative feelings she had experienced before had returned.

But faced with the challenges of new motherhood, knowing how to ask for help was far from easy.

“I’m not ashamed to admit I needed help, I wanted help, but I also was a shell of myself.

“I was trying to keep this baby alive and keep myself alive. That’s the only way to describe it.”

To make things worse, she then began to feel bad about feeling bad, and worried about those around her.

“I felt so awful for Will, because I wanted this time to be really special, but I couldn’t get myself out of this depression.

“There’s no feeling like it. It’s the loneliest feeling in the world. I’m not gonna say it was postnatal depression, because I think it was hormones. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the baby – I did.

“I wanted to be with him the whole time, but I just didn’t feel right. This lasted for about a month, which is intense.”

All the way through, her husband stood firm beside her.

‘I FELT STRONG AGAIN’

“Will would be messaging people, saying: ‘This is her state of mind today…’ He’s just the most amazing man in the whole world.

“I couldn’t have got through it without him. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Things finally came to a head after her family all went to her cousin’s wedding in the Bahamas in May without her.

“I felt so alone. I hated the thought that they were going across the world. I felt left out and that they were all going to be having fun on this amazing holiday while I was at home with a newborn. I was terrified, not knowing how I was going to get through it.”

After this, she hit rock bottom. “I haven’t really spoken about this in depth since it happened,” Jess says, as she starts to cry.

“Presley had troubles with his stomach and reflux, so he’d been crying a lot of the time because he was in pain, which makes you feel so helpless as a mum.

“And one night, Will found me collapsed on the stairs, inconsolable. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“I didn’t want to be there, to be honest. I didn’t want to be in the world at that point. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to sleep for a bit and then wake up feeling better.

“All I could think about was how low I felt and when the baby was gonna wake up and how I was gonna get through it.

“Will just cuddled me, because what could he say? I felt so bad, because he felt helpless. 

“My best friend said to me: ‘Jess, the only way you get through it is to make sure that this child survives and you survive.

“If you do that, then you’re fine.’ And I was like, that sounds so dramatic, but it’s true.” 

Jess consulted health visitors and doctors and, with their support and that of her family and friends, after a month, she began to feel more like her old self.

“During the fourth week, it just went. All of a sudden, those feelings just completely went away.

“The depression completely subsided and I felt strong again. I feel so grateful that it went after a few weeks.

“If I was still feeling like that now, I just don’t know what I would do, because it ruins the amazing journey that you’re supposed to experience.”

Despite this, Jess had been posting a “perfect” image on her Instagram of family life through some of her hardest times.

But she’s now adamant she’ll be more open about her true feelings in future. 

“I’m not going to paint that perfect picture any more. I’m glad it’s coming out now and I will discuss it on my social media.

“The most important thing I can say is you’re not alone. Try to get support. There are so many people out there and social media is great for that.”

And despite the difficult start with Presley, Jess is keen to have more babies in the future.

She says: “At first I was like: ‘Absolutely not. Forget it.’ 

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But I said to my husband last week: ‘Oh, maybe I could,’ and he was like: ‘Let’s just wait a while!’ I’m not gonna rule out more kids.

“I’d love a little girl – but I don’t think we’d have any more than that. However, we have got five embryos in the freezer, so never say never!” 

  • Jess is working with Dorothy Perkins, and Jess Wright Beauty is available from Poundland.
Instagram/Jess Wright
Jess says she felt paralysed with fear about whether or not she was a good mum[/caption]
Instagram/Jess Wright
Jess describes husband Will as ‘just the most amazing man in the whole world’[/caption]
Jess is now adamant she’ll be more open about her true feelings in future
Mark Hayman








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