Today, March 30th, 2009, a letter appeared in The Chicago Sun Times. The letter was from Carol Blocker, mother of Melanie Blocker Stokes. Melanie was the beautiful, intelligent, successful, warm, and lovely mother of Sommer Skye the precious baby girl to whom she had recently given birth.
But Melanie did not live to raise her beloved child. She never saw the first step, the first word, the first grade, the first birthday. After fighting a valiant battle to overcome a postpartum psychosis that would not remit, Melanie Blocker Stokes leapt to her death from the twelfth floor of a Chicago building.
Somehow, Carol Blocker survived the unimaginable. She survived because there was a sweet baby to be loved and raised. She survived because her capacity to love was greater than the unremitting pain with which she lived. She survived because someone had to be there to tell Sommer Skye all about her mommy when she was ready to ask those questions. And gradually, with each sweet smile and gentle exchange between grandchild and grandmother, her pain worked its way to outrage that a life could be lost because of IGNORANCE.
She contacted Congressman Bobby L Rush as his constituent, beseeching him to help bring about more awareness of these disorders, more research into how to assess, treat and make the public aware! Congressman Rush had read the tragic story and was deeply moved by the loss of Melanie’s life. A respected and renowned figure in Chicago and in national politics, Congressman Rush took up the fight beside Carol Blocker and neither has ever looked back.
After 8 long years of a tireless battle that has yet to become federal law, Carol is angry. Hundreds of thousands of women and their families join her in the disbelief that our nation has not yet been moved to action. Our nation and most states are still without mandated strategies to combat these common illnesses. When one considers that some countries have recognized the devastation of these disorders legally since 1922 (England), how did the world’s most powerful and wealthy country allow these lethal disorders to stay under the radar for decades? Only New Jersey currently has a state law in place, thanks to the efforts of ppd survivor, advocate and Former NJ First Lady Mary Jo Codey.
The statistics are there and they are frightening. Up to 20% of mothers will experience a diagnosable pregnancy related mood disorder…that translates into 800,000 women this year if you use national stats on live births. But if you take the condition of pregnancy as the initiating vulnerability to these disorders, then it may be that the thousands of mothers who miscarry or whose babies are stillborn are also susceptible to these disorders.
For the mother, the effects of untreated postpartum mood disorders range from chronic disability to death. For the child, behavioral and learning disabilities can result when mothers cannot bond effectively with their infant.
You can do something. Right this minute, support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in the House and the Senate by adding your name to the list of those in your state who support the legislation. Visit http://www.perinatalpro.com/ppdlegislation/listingofsupporters.html where you can also read a copy of the legislation. The bill requests funding for education, research, public awareness campaigns and programs supportive to mothers struggling with these disorders. It requests research into the potential benefits of screening.
As Carol says… “Please. Someone help these mothers. Don’t let other birth mothers, like my Melanie, die in vain”.
Hasn’t Carol and countless other mothers, families and infants, suffered long enough?
Read Carol’s letter here http://www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/letters/1501629,CST-EDT-vox30.article