May 6, 2010 – Carol Blocker was the central compelling figure in a group of advocates who gathered in Washington DC this morning to celebrate the passage of historic postpartum depression legislation. After nearly a decade of emotionally exhausting advocacy that has taken her from coast to coast and required her to relive the experience of life’s most profound maternal tragedy – the loss of her child – she stood today and claimed her victory on behalf of her daughter Melanie Blocker Stokes.
Here is the video of the entire press conference.
Carol embodies the eternal caretaking and dedication associated with a mother’s love for her child – which crosses the boundaries of life and death, knows no limits and stops at nothing to achieve an end. In this case, Carol’s end is one which will save the lives of thousands of women she will never meet.
As the bill bears her daughter’s name, the legacy of Melanie Blocker Stokes will be one of help and support to mothers struggling with pregancy related mood disorders -that they might be spared and saved from a similar fate.
Standing with Congressman Bobby L. Rush, who drafted the Melanie Blocker Stokes Research and Care Act, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who drafted the The MOTHERS Act based on NJ legislation, she softly and compelling gave thanks for the final version, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which passed in the healthcare reform bill. Combined with the Mikulski amendment, which calls for insurance to cover life saving health screenings for women, this was truly a historic day for America’s mothers.
Senator Menendez noted the ongoing efforts of Mary Jo Codey, Former NJ First Lady, who together with her husband Governor Richard Codey, enacted the first state based PPD legislative effort in this country, calling for screening and education about these common and easily treated illnesses.
Sylvia Lasalandra, author of A Daughter’s Touch was present to support Carol’s victory and add her own words of passion and thanks. Katherine Stone, author of The Postpartum Progress Blog, commented on the lives the legislation will save. Dr. Gwendolyn Keita, director of the American Psychological Association, spoke of the prevalence of these disorders noted by the mental health professionals in her organization. Josef Weissfeld, Government Affairs Representative from ACOG expressed the long standing need for this legislation.
As an advocate and clinical social worker who has treated countless women struggling with these disorders, it was an honor to be included in this group. I am proud to be Chair of Postpartum Support International’s Advisory Council and and a National Board Member of The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition two organizations on the forefront of reaching out to mothers in communities and bringing them the services they need to navigate the challenges of pregnancy and new parenting. I urged our supporters to keep up the drum beat until the bill is funded which is our next challenge.
But the most meaningful moment of the day for me was embracing the very brave mother who never quit… whose connection with her daughter defies a mortal separation and speaks instead to the ongoing life force shared by the two of them and Melanie’s daughter, Sommer Skye. And it was indeed the bluest sky today as this group attracted major press, advocate participants and curious bystanders who found an unexpected education about maternal mental health while strolling through Capitol Hill.
History for women’s mental health was acknowledged and pregnant and delivering mothers who may struggle were offered, at long last, the potential of a safety net for them and their sweet babes. Thank you Carol. Thank you Melanie. And thank you Sommer Skye for being born and sharing your love with both of them.
The next celebration of this legislative milestone will take place with Brooke Shields on Monday, May 10th in New Jersey.