It is estimated that postpartum depression (PPD) affects from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. The cause of PPD isn’t known but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, and a family history of depression are considered possible factors.
Postpartum depression. It is something that is spoken about, if at all, in hushed tones. Who could possibly be depressed after going through the miracle of birth and holding a precious baby in your arms? Well, plenty apparently. It is a reality for thousands of women every year. That is someone you know. Or it could even be YOU.
A Father's Story of Losing my Daughter to Postpartum Depression
I experienced the best meal of my life the other day. That’s saying a lot from a man who is just shy of 60, and has spent his entire life in the restaurant business. Since my 6th birthday, when my parents opened up La Bella’s, a little mom and pop Italian restaurant, I have had the opportunity to travel and enjoy delicious meals prepared by some the world’s finest chefs.
Even after my wife left, and I was faced the prospect of raising two energetic children on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and Hamburger Helper, I never lost my appetite for fine dining.
In the early 90’s I met my current wife Mary, a beautiful single mom of two. Her parents had passed, so I asked her eldest teenage daughter, Crystal, for permission to take her mom to dinner. It’s funny - looking back now, I can’t tell you what Mary was wearing, but the restaurant was a perfect combination of cozy atmosphere and scrumptious food.
As 2000 rolled around, our kids now grown, Mary and I discovered cruise ships. We realized, if we carefully picked our departure dates, we could cruise for about $200.00 a day with the all important, MEALS INCLUDED!
On a cruise ship, nothing surpasses the experience of a savory dinner of two hours, your meal prepared by top chefs, while enjoying an unhurried conversation with your spouse. A brochure on one of our cruises informed us that, for an extra $25.00, we could have the “Ultimate Dining Experience”. We could not believe our meals could get any tastier but we gave it a try. Words cannot explain the evening. The service was impeccable and the food was to die for. Gazing at Mary across the table with the moon rising behind her made my diner all the more unforgettable.
We have been on about ten cruises now and I never thought we could top those culinary delights, until the other day, when I experienced the best meal of my life.
Crystal, the oldest of our four children, was always the more serious. She was the one to whom we entrusted our most important papers and house keys when we left town. Crystal gave birth to Hannah in 2003 and baby Max in 2007. When Max was born, things just seemed to bother Crystal more. She seemed to worry about everything. We tried to reassure her, but that was Crystal, the worrier.
On Feb 25, 2008, we got together with her and her husband, Chris, for lunch. Everything seemed fine. On Feb 27, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Mary received a call from the police concerning a family emergency at Crystal’s house. As we raced the few blocks to her house, I feared the worse. Did baby Max, not yet four months old, die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? I begged: God please let Max be OK!
As we rounded the corner and their house came into view, there were police cars in the streets and driveway. A detective who was polite, but uninformative, stopped Mary and I from entering the house. As I turned back to the street, I noticed Chris holding baby Max. Knowing that Hannah was in school, I asked him what was going on. With a dazed look in his eyes he told us that Crystal had shot and killed herself.
She had seemed unusually worried the past few days, always fussing about Max, unable to get a good night’s sleep. Attempting to breast feed as long as possible, she was concerned that her milk was drying up. We didn’t notice the symptoms of what we later learned was, Postpartum Depression. We just thought that was Crystal, always worrying.
Over a year has now passed. We have all pulled together and gotten into the routine of helping Chris raise Hannah, his precocious first grade daughter, and Max, a handsome boy of sixteen months. I have volunteered to give Max his 06:00 AM feeding five days a week. This occupied my time and kept my mind off of Crystal. Mary would come over at 07:15 and get Hannah ready for school. In the morning commotion, Chris would wolf down some cereal, and if the kids were up, give them a kiss, and out the door he’d go, grateful for us being there.
It is amazing how we live assumptive lives. Every day, we assume our family will always be there. It’s not that we have taken them for granted it is just that no one ever expects to outlive their own child. I now appreciate the little things in life more. I love Max’s happy giggle every morning as I sing to him while changing his diaper. The joy experienced viewing Hannah’s beautiful sleepy face, when she rolls out of bed is unexplainable.
Mary and I took all four grand kids to a matinee the other day. After the movie, we stopped at Target to get them a snack. “We want the Kids $2.00 Hot Dog & Soda Special,” they yelled. Mary and I sat at a table across from them. As we ate, we enjoyed the view of our grandkids just being kids. I savored every second of hearing them laugh and watching them play as I finished my salad and hot dog. It was the best meal of my life.
Joseph A. Raso
So, what can we do to help women combat Postpartum Depression? We can actually take action and do something. Today. Let's do it! We know how powerful the power of the blogging community is, so let's rise up and help. Let's take action.
Please see press release below, and then links where you can go to help this very worthy cause for women.
Menendez, Author of Legislation to Combat Postpartum Depression, Applauds Grassroots Show of Force on Blog Day
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2009
CONTACTS: Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744
Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act has broad support in Congress, needs public pressure to overcome procedural obstacles
WASHINGTON – As bloggers around the country today advocate for passage of federal legislation to combat postpartum depression, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate sponsor of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, applauded the effort as necessary to enact the bill into law.
The legislation has broad support in Congress and was able to pass the House of Representatives earlier this year, but has been stalled in the Senate because of objections by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Senator Coburn commonly uses senatorial “holds” to stall disease-specific legislation, and indications are that he would do so with the MOTHERS Act.
“Postpartum depression is a condition that is not only more widespread than most realize but also more debilitating than most realize,” said Menendez. “We need to make sure these mothers are fully supported and informed, rather than scared and alone. Working together with a nationwide community of mothers, we are so close to enacting this important legislation into law. What we need is an intense dose of public pressure. This Blog Day helps reinforce the type of grassroots movement that will create the pressure that is needed, and I commend the participants.
I invite mothers, fathers and anyone else who believes we need to better support those with postpartum depression to contact their Senators and urge them to vocally support S.324”
The legislation would increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:
Encouraging Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions.
Encouraging a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.
Requiring the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions.
Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.
What YOU can do to help!!
1. Contact your senator today and call or email with your request for their support for S 324, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.
2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to give your permission to be listed in the state by state constituent petition which will be presented to U.S. Senators the week of MOTHERS Day. See the listings here.
Thank you to Senator Robert Menendez for his steadfast advocacy on behalf of America’s current and future mothers, infants and families!! We will do everything we can to support you and show Congress how critical it is that the bill pass THIS YEAR!!
Thank you for your help.