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Reality stars' silent struggle before their biggest joy

By Victoria Owens|

Love Island star Courtney Stubbs and her partner, MAFS star Jack Millar are enjoying being on cloud nine after welcoming their baby girl, Penelope, last week.

But while the pair are loving every minute of their newborn bubble, they admit it was a struggle to get to the finish line of the pregnancy.

The reality TV couple are sharing their story in the hope they can help other couples avoid the tough time they faced both together and alone.?

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Courtney & Jack welcomed baby Penelope last week. (Supplied)

Stubbs suffered prenatal anxiety and depression from the moment she started getting morning sickness at six weeks, which lasted throughout her pregnancy.

"I don't know why anyone calls it morning sickness. I don't even know if that exists. Because when I spoke up about it, everyone's like, 'no, it's like an all-day sickness'."

She told 9Honey Parenting she struggled with feeling sick all the time which quickly sent her spiralling, "I mentally just felt like a vessel to a baby, I didn't feel like myself, I felt like I didn't even have a personality anymore and I was just so exhausted and so tired that it was like an out-of-body experience.

"Like I wasn't even a part of my body. That was really hard."

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Courtney admits she felt "lonely & down" throughout her pregnancy. (Instagram)

The new mum says instead of feeling excited throughout her pregnancy, she constantly felt down.

"I felt so alone from seeing how perfect everyone seemed to make it online, so I just thought I was the only one going through the struggles, until I opened up about it online and then had such an amazing response."

Stubbs was bombarded with support from women with similar stories, which made her realise she was not the only one feeling duped by the misconceptions surrounding pregnancy.?

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"I'd imagined pregnancy from a young age C I've always wanted to be a mum and I envisioned it to be just super magical and easy and your body knowing what it's doing and it's just gonna be the best thing ever. So it was a really harsh reality check from the get-go."

Millar, her partner of more than a year, says he could instantly tell she wasn't ok.

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"Courtney just slowly crawled into a shell - from the outside looking in, little cues would be, she wasn't as conversational, bigger cues would be, some days she never left the bed and I could tell straight away because it wasn't the fun, bubbly Courtney that I'm so used to C and then I think from there it led to our first conversations about it."

Jack supported Courtney throughout the pregnancy (Instagram)

Stubbs says Millar pushed her to talk about what she was going through and gushes how supportive he's been over the past nine testing months.

"He's so great, he'd always call me throughout the day and check on me and see how I'm doing."

Millar says he knew he had to do whatever he could to help Stubbs through it.

Jack encouraged Courtney to come out for walks to help her through the pregnancy (Instagram)

"I took the real approach of just asking and listening - it was [about] understanding and learning what she needed. A lot of the readings that I did from Gidget said to just 'sit back and listen'. So that's what I did C but the hardest part of it was the fact that I couldn't physically take the pain away."

Millar and Stubbs are now ambassadors for The Gidget Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation supporting the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents.

Perinatal depression and anxiety affects almost 100,000 people in Australia each year.

Jack tried to ensure Courtney as as stress-free as possible during her pregnancy (Supplied)

Millar & Stubbs admit they didn't know about Gidget until late into their pregnancy and are hoping their new role can help to spread the word to other couples who find themselves in a similar situation.

Stubbs says, " I need to talk about this because if this can reach one person that's feeling the exact same way [as I did] that's gonna make me feel like I'm at least trying to make a difference by being honest about what I'm going through".

But she says all those negative feelings have since disappeared, from the moment little Penelope was born.

Proud dad Jack says everything changed after their daughter arrived. (Supplied)

"Since the moment she came out, it's been pure happiness, pure magic seeing her and I feel like I got reborn, like the person I was supposed to be my whole life has finally arrived, I can feel like a whole other person."

Now the couple are busy in a love bubble with their baby daughter.?

Courtney says the second Penelope was in her arms she felt better. (Supplied)

Millar says of his newborn, "she was just perfect from the second she popped out. You don't realise the love you can feel until it happens, I really don't have words for that".

A huge congratulations to Courtney & Jack, we can't wait to see Penelope grow with both of you.

Perinatal Mental Health Week is November 12 to November 18. If you're pregnant or a new mum and you feel like you need help, reach out to The Gidget Foundation on 1300 851 758.

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