Mrs. Shields Goes to Washington

Now that we know she’s got a great sense of a humor, on a more serious note, actress Brooke Shields went to Capitol Hill this week, pushing Congress to pass the “Mother’s Act,” legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that would provide funding for education, screening, treatment, and research for postpartum depression.

What do you think? Is it the government’s role to step in and help fund education about postpartum depression? If not, whose role is it? Why can’t the medical community focus as much on new parents’ mental health as they do newborn care? I mean sure, you’ll be the best parent on the block if you know how to operate one of those plastic bulb snot suckers they send home with, but what about advice for transitioning into your new role as a parent? What about some frank affirmation that you might not really love being a parent the first few weeks? I certainly don’t remember any child birth class material or nurses telling me to take all the help we could get and run with it like it was the last pack of newborn Pampers on the planet.

Thankfully I was advised during the final weeks of my first pregnancy that being a “mommy martyr” was a bad idea and that despite all the commercials I’d seen on TV through the years, babies weren’t all sunshine, lullabies, and cooing. There were long dark nights of marathon pacing and bouncing, making up incoherent lullabies because I’d run out of words, and serious critical analysis of bowel movements. Like so many mothers before me, I relied on the sage advice of my mother, my mother-in-law, my sisters, and girlfriends who were already mothers. But what about mothers who don’t have family or who are isolated from friends and family? Maybe they’re a single mom or maybe their spouse is in the military and stationed abroad? I realize how fortunate we are to have a support system and both sets of grandparents nearby.

I don’t really think I had true post-partum depression, but for someone who is a former anal retentive planner and perfectionist, motherhood slam dunked me into a guessing game that made me doubt my parenting abilities. You can have everything in your baby’s nursery color coordinated, but you can’t really anticipate what those early weeks of parenthood will really be like. Will your baby sleep all day and stay up all night? Will they chill out in their bouncy seat or freak out? Will they find soft classical music soothing, or will they prefer the white noise of the vacuum cleaner? Or, like Caitlin and Amelia, will they love the sound of the hair dryer? Yes, even as babies the girls loved anything remotely related to primping.

I had an unexpected emergency c-section with Caitlin. I was physically wiped out and was anemic due to losing so much blood, my incision was very painful the first two weeks or so, and my body was like a freak show game of hormone Russian Roulette. Things got easier and easier and before I knew it I’d mastered taking Caitlin to the grocery store all by myself. Oh sure, you can laugh, but if you’ve ever been a rookie parent, you know what I’m talking about. By the time Amelia came along I was more prepared, relaxed, and I didn’t pack a 20-pound diaper bag stocked with every infant remedy from our medicine cabinet every time we left the house.

Life in the motherhood is great, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.


  1. Anne says:

    I don’t think the government needs more tasks. They can’t accomplish much of anything as it is. It seems like postpartum info should come from the hospitals and clinics performing the deliveries. Based on my out of pocket bills, the freaking hospitals can afford it.

  2. Michelle says:

    I wouldn’t wish post-partum depression on anyone, I’m sure it’s a debilitating thing to deal with. However, it seems a little off to send a movie star to ask the government for more money.

    I mean, who–besides Tom Cruise–doesn’t think it’s a real disease anyway? Uncle Sam already knows about it, and it doesn’t seem to be something that requires tons of more research.

    Besides, I’m afraid there are so many worse diseases and conditions that are available to the human body and most that we know so little about–some that could really benefit from those research dollars–it seems a little whacked to me.

    But then what do I know?

  3. Blonde Mom says:

    I tend to agree with ya’ll. I think it’s great to see a celebrity doing “good,” rather than being a Paris Hilton, cough, but I’m not sure this is the solution. It does bring awareness to PPD, though.

  4. malia says:

    I think Shields’ efforts would be better “spent” by starting a non-profit type organization and hitting up her rich, celebrity friends/mothers for funding. (And maybe Zoloft as a corporate sponsor! I heart Zoloft!) This is really a very good example of how we push stuff on our government that our government has no business dealing with. I think it would be so much more effective to have an organization that worked with hospitals, pediatricians offices, ob-gyns, even places like grocery stores, Target, churches (places where new moms are likely to be at) to have information, counseling, support, etc. It’s not the government’s job to educate women about PPD.

    Hmmm…now you’ve got me thinking!

  5. Blonde Mom says:


    I agree and I love the Target affiliation idea. Hey…I sought refuge (and still do) there as a new mama! 😉

    But then I love Target a little too much.

  6. Pendullum says:

    I think it is so hard… and especially in your country… as I do not think there is enough respect given to mothers and what they go through…
    6 weeks ‘off ‘ of paid employment is not long enough for such a true life change… and all the ramifications which go along with it…
    Good on Mrs. Shields going to Washington… and she knows first hand… and she had support… both financial and physical…

  7. Richie Ann says:

    Most everyone has said it for me…leave it the medical staff. Let the Washington deal with more important things like terrorists.

Leave a Reply