TANYA Holland was pregnant with their third child when her partner Michael started disappearing and ignoring her calls while he was out.
Raising two young lads and battling post-natal depression, the 42-year-old, from Hackney, East London, struggled to cope with Michael's increasing absence – and visits to his son with another woman.
And she was horrified when Michael revealed the truth – he had been cheating with his ex, who was also pregnant with his baby and due just a month after Tanya.
Here, speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, Tanya tells her story…
When Michael and I found out I was pregnant with our third child, I was desperate for a little girl.
“You know it won’t be though,” Michael said. “I only father boys.”
It was true. We had been together for seven years and had two sons together. Michael already had three kids when we got together – and they were all boys too.
I loved Michael, but life had been difficult over the past few years.
After our first son was born five years ago, I got post-natal depression.
Our relationship struggled as a result and Michael would often disappear – not answering his phone.
I was starting to get jealous. It was great Michael was being a dad to his son, but at the same time I wanted him to be home with our boys
When I got pregnant with our second son, now two, I had hoped it would lift the gloom.
But it didn't – my depression got worse, leaving things even more strained between the two of us.
I knew I was struggling, but it was hard seeing Michael go out so much. He'd either be out with mates or visiting a son from one of his previous relationships.
I'd really encouraged him to get to know the boys, but he was spending more and more time with one of his sons.
I was starting to get jealous. It was great he was being a dad to his son, but at the same time I wanted him to be home with our boys.
We started rowing more, I didn't know what to do. I blamed myself for driving him away, not being more understanding.
Six months after our second son was born, at the beginning of last year, I found out I was pregnant again.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry – I was struggling to cope already, with the two little ones and my depression.
I loved being a mum, but it wasn't easy.
'I've got some news too,' he told me. 'My ex is pregnant and it's mine. I'm so sorry'
But Michael seemed thrilled. "That's great!" he said.
When he was home, Michael was a doting dad. But I wished he was around more to help out.
By the time of our 12-week scan, Michael was still visiting his older son several times a week.
I had to bite my lip, I just wanted him home with us. I felt like I never saw him – how was I going to cope with a third child?
One day, I read an article in a magazine which claimed you could cure PND by having a girl.
I looked up hopefully at Michael. "You know we won't be having a girl," he said. "It would be lovely but this will be my sixth, and it will be another boy. Sorry."
I would have loved a little girl to make our family complete, and curing my PND would be amazing – I would give anything for that.
But I thought Michael was right – until our five-month scan.
All those times he said he was going to spend quality time with his son, he'd actually been sleeping with another woman
Michael didn't come with me, he was laying a new floor for us with a friend. We needed it done before the baby arrived, so I was happy to go off without him.
At the hospital, my hopes were confirmed. I phoned Michael immediately. "We're having a girl!" I screamed down the phone.
When I got home, the men were still hard at work, but Michael took me upstairs to chat.
He was crying with excitement and kept saying: "I can't believe it", but then he stopped smiling.
Post-natal depression: the facts
Post-natal depression is a common problem, affecting more than 10% of mums in the first year of having a baby.
It can also affect dads and partners.
It's different from the 'baby blues' – feeling down, tearful and anxious – which affects most mums and should not last for more than two weeks.
If your symptoms last for longer than two weeks, you could have PND and should seek help from your GP or midwife.
- A persistent feeling of sadness/low mood
- Lack of energy
- Trouble sleeping at night
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Lack of enjoyment/interest in the wider world
- Withdrawing contact from friends
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Frightening thoughts – e.g. about harming your baby.
There's no evidence having a girl can cure PND.
"I've got some news too," he told me. "My ex is pregnant and it's mine. I'm so sorry."
Everything stopped. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"I'm so sorry," Michael repeated. "I slept with her and now she's pregnant, there's two months between the babies."
I sat down, I couldn't take it in. I'd gone from being over the moon to devastated.
I put my hand on my belly. What was going to happen now?
I told Michael he couldn't have any contact with his son, not until I was ready
"What made you tell me now?" I asked him.
"She told a friend who said she would tell you if I didn't. I didn't want it coming from anyone else," he replied.
The truth hurt even more – if she hadn't threatened him, he would have never told me.
He admitted it had been going on for a few months. All those times he said he was going to spend quality time with his son, he'd actually been sleeping with another woman.
I thought he was doing the right thing by going to see his boy. But instead he'd been lying and cheating.
It was too much, I couldn't see us having a future, not after he'd lied to me like that.
I told him it was over, in my mind it was. But Michael wouldn't give up, he kept begging for another chance.
I didn't know what to do. I was heavily pregnant and still loved him, but he'd betrayed me.
Eventually, we talked and I gave him an ultimatum. "If you want to make this work, you have to change your ways.
"No more disappearing off with your mates and not answering my phone calls.
"You need to pull your weight around the house, helping out and with the kids.
"And I’m sorry but you can’t have contact with your son or your new baby. Not until I’m ready for it."
I thought he was doing the right thing by going to see his boy. But instead he'd been lying and cheating
It was a lot to ask, but it was the least I deserved after what he'd done.
Michael agreed, said he'd do anything to save our relationship.
It wasn't easy, but Michael was by my side when Storm was born on November 14 last year.
Even more amazingly, I felt the depression lift off my shoulders when she was born.
"The depression has gone," I told Michael the next day. "That article was right, having a daughter has cured it."
He couldn't believe it, but we didn't care. I felt like the old me again.
Michael, 43, says:
“I just wanted to be there for my ex and son – I had a baby with her seven years ago and then this one.
“Tanya says she wants me to have nothing to do with this kid for a couple of years but I’m hoping she’ll come around.
“To be quite honest I didn’t mean to do any of this stuff. It just happened and this is what I’ve got at the end.”
Since then, Michael has been a changed man. He helps around the house and I always know where he is these days. In fact, he hardly ever goes out.
He really makes an effort. I’m changed too, I’m back to being me again and the kids are amazing. Our family really is complete with our gorgeous baby girl.
His ex gave birth to a son a month after me. Michael hasn’t had contact yet.
I’m still not ready. I know it's not the boy's fault and I will let them meet, but not just yet.
Meanwhile, me and Michael are better than we’ve ever been.
He betrayed me and lied to me, then turned what should have been my happiest day into my worst.
But we have come through it. It’s not been easy, but he’s worked hard to make it up to me.
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