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This article was prepared for the May 4, 2005 issue of U.S. 1
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Brooke Shields on Postpartum Depression
When Brooke Shields welcomed her newborn daughter, Rowan Francis
Henchy, into the world, somthing unexpected followed – a crippling
depression. In her new book, "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through
Postpartum Depression," Shields, who will give a book signing and talk
on Tuesday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, Marketfair,
talks about her personal experience with one of the most widely
misunderstood conditions that affects many new mothers. Following is a
prepared interview from the actress, model, and Princeton University
graduate, Class of 1987. She is currently in London rehearsing for
I’m sure many people have asked you to write a book. Why did you
decide to write one now and on this subject?
I feel too young to write a memoir of my life, especially because I
feel my life is just now becoming even more interesting and I have so
much further to go in my career and in my personal life. This subject,
however, became unavoidable to me, and after having experienced it so
dramatically, I felt the need to share how I was altered and how those
close to me were affected. It did not stem so much from a desire for
catharsis as it did from an obligation to help others by shining a
harsh light on the reality of PPD in my life. This is a subject that
is too often pushed aside or rationalized away. So many are affected
and still there is such a taboo surrounding it that many suffer in
silence. I wanted to take the mute button off.
Do you feel your difficulties in getting pregnant contributed to
I feel a great deal of my PPD was exacerbated by the trials I endured
just trying to get pregnant. However many non-IVF or at-risk mothers
suffer from the same symptoms. The medication and hormone treatment I
underwent helped throw my system off balance, and the failed attempts
depressed me as well. But I know many moms who got pregnant naturally
and had easy deliveries who experience similar emotions to those I
describe in the book.
How was your pregnancy? Did you feel it was easier or harder than
My pregnancy was easy and actually quite uneventful. I had carpal
tunnel syndrome rather severely towards the end of the third
trimester, but I had no morning sickness and didn’t even gain an
excessive amount of weight. I had an easier than average pregnancy and
went full term.
Your father, with whom you were so close, died just before Rowan was
born. In addition, you moved apartments and had a very difficult
delivery. These are three enormous stressors occurring at the same
time. How do you think these experiences affected you?
My father’s death, my move, and my frightening and difficult delivery,
in hindsight created a tremendous amount of stress, pain, and sadness
for me. These events added to my depression, but because I then
experienced PPD, I was practically devastated beyond recovery.
However, the feelings I was conscious of revolved around my being a
mother, having had a baby, my baby herself, and the monumental change
that resulted from giving birth. I believe even if my dad hadn’t
passed away or we hadn’t moved I would have still experienced PPD.
In your book, you discuss your evolving relationship with your mother,
and how you have made peace. Can you tell us about that and her role
in your life today?
My mom is in love with her granddaughter and wants to spend as much
time with her as she can. She has not been my manager since the very
early 1990s and we have no working relationship. We speak many times a
week and see each other quite often. She lives on the east coast
permanently, and I go back and forth between the two coasts. Being a
mother has given my own mom and me a common ground.
Can you talk about the stigma many women seem to feel regarding
PPD causes one to feel so ashamed and desolate that it is very
difficult to admit to. There is such a stigma around not being
attached to your baby and happy with motherhood. The image has been
ingrained in our minds and our culture and any picture less than an
ideal one seems to be cause for shame.
How did being part of "Hollywood" affect your ability to function
within your depression?
I don’t believe Hollywood had any affect on my ability to function (or
not function) within my depression. Almost all of the women I spoke to
about their PPD were not in the movie and television business. PPD
seemed to erase the concept of Hollywood and level the field and unify
What do you hope this book will do for women – and the people who love
them – who suffer from postpartum depression?
I hope this book will help new moms not feel alone or desperate, and
know that there is no shame in their feelings. PPD is out of their
control, but the treatment and healing process is not. There is help
and it works. For those who love women affected by PPD, I hope this
book will shed light on a very upsetting and confusing affliction. I
hope it will help them feel less hopeless and supported by knowledge
of available treatments. They also need to know that PPD is also
something they can’t fix on their own.
Do you have any advice for doctors who speak to women after they have
given birth? They may know what to look for medically, but what kind
of questions might they ask a woman who is not sure what is wrong with
Speak to the women before they give birth. Say to them that after
birth, if they should feel unconnected, or depressed, hopeless, or
unusually sad, that they should inform their doctor ASAP. Especially
if the feelings don’t go away after a few days. The families,
husbands, partners need to have someone to call to ask questions and
also provide knowledge and help from the professionals who are
treating the mom. A follow-up on the psychological progress of the mom
Tell us about Rowan – what makes her happy?
My baby girl, Rowan, is the delight of my life. She loves music and
dancing. She loves kissing my husband’s (her dad’s) face all over and
smushing her cheeks against mine repeatedly before saying goodbye. She
has a favorite blanket called a "cachcach" and likes any drink with
ice in it. Lip-gloss makes her very happy!
"Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartem Depression, book
signing and talk by author/actress/model Brooke Shields, Tuesday, May
10, 7:30 p.m., Barnes and Noble, Marketfair, Princeton. 609-716-1570.
with all aspects of the society, a small camcorder to document student
puppetry sketches, and donations of perennials to plant in the front
garden. Call 609-989-1191.
Kids Essay Contest
in an essay contest for kids ages 8 to 12. Submit an essay of 100
words or less to the Good Taste Labs describing the taste sensations
of your favorite food. Five winners will be chose to participate in
the championship competition. Deadline Sunday, July 31. Send essay and
photo to Arm & Hammer, PMI Station, Box 3564, Southbury, CT
06488-3564. Visit www.armhammergoodtastelabs.com for entry form and
Free Ice Cream
of a pint of blood at the University Medical Center of Princeton for
the next year in honor of their 25th anniversary. Call 609-497-4366 to
make an appointment to donate.
open at Open Air Theater on Thursday, August 18. Roles to be cast
include the Wizard, Uncle Henry, Auntie Em, Nikko, adults for singing,
dancing, and speaking roles, and close to 16 Munchkins. Auditions are
Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call Lorraine Wargo at
609-530-0912 for appointment.
For Aspiring Thespians
Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey is accepting
applications for acting apprenticeships and internships in all areas
for young adults ages 18 and older. "Take the Summer On!" runs from
May 29 to August 15. Application deadline is Friday, May 13. Tuition
is $1,475 for the apprentice program. Most internships are unpaid.
Housing is $840. For information call 973-408-3806.
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