My considered opinion on the Andrea Yates fiasco.
First... I suffered, and I DO mean SUFFERED from Post Partum Depression after the birth of Angel Baby Girl. I was already on anti-depressants when Son was born, so the PPD wasn't so bad after his birth, but it was still there.
In my particular case, my depression started when I was 12 and went untreated until I was 21. I was non-compliant off and on with my meds for a few years. So when I had ABG, I was off medication. My wacky thinking went something along the lines of...”I don't want any of those nasty chemicals passing through the placental barrier...” Besides, I was on a hormonal high all through my pregnancy. And for the first couple of months after she was born, I was OK.
Then the three month colic hit. So I started to get sleep deprived. It just went downhill from there for the next six months. Yes, I said SIX months. It took that long for my husband [that husband, NOT the Dearly Beloved] to notice something was wrong. It wasn't entirely his fault. By that time I'd had 13 years experience hiding my depression from my nearest and dearest. But eventually he noticed that I was breaking a toe at least once a week because I kept running into furniture; I was not eating; I wasn't sleeping.
It finally came to a head one night when he came home from working a 3 – 11 shift [he was an ER Nurse] and I was in tears. When he wanted to know what was wrong, I finally admitted everything I'd been hiding for all those months, the daily crying, the months of sleeplessness,all the accidents, the thoughts of hurting myself and ABG. He held me and let me cry and sat up with me all night.
The next morning, we went to see a husband and wife team. He was a psychiatrist and she was a MSW/Therapist. I had a bunch of medical and psychological tests, got on the right meds, went into therapy with her and stayed on the meds and in therapy. My Mother-in-Law took turns with my Step Mom and Grand Mother coming to help take care of ABG for a month while all this was going on. I also got visits and calls and cards from friends. Without the love and help and support of all the peeps, I wouldn't have made it.
And this was a Post Partum DEPRESSION. A first time, with ONE child.
Now, let's talk about Andrea. She had a Post Partum PSYCHOSIS. The difference between what I suffered and what she suffered is on a magnitude of 10, folks. I was never delusional. I never had voices in my head telling me that my child was going to go to HELL because I was a BAD MOTHER. I was not trapped at home with FOUR little boys and a newborn infant daughter and no car.
The thing that I think is MOST insidious and dangerous about PPD and PPP is that they get WORSE with each occurrence. The only reason my depression was mitigated after Son's birth was that I was already on anti-depressants and seeing a therapist. And when I look back to that period of my life, I say a prayer of thanks.
Poor Andrea, she had been hospitalized, and on medication [Haldol,an anti-psychotic]after the birth of Luke [son number 3]. She had a psychiatrist who seemed to have an understanding of her problem and was not hesitant to hospitalize her to stabilize her on the medication she needed. This same doctor advised Andrea and Rusty [Andrea's now ex-husband] that having any more children would be a danger to Andrea's sanity.
What does Rusty, the loving husband do? Does he go out and have a vasectomy to protect his fragile wife? Does he refrain from sex so as not to impregnate her? NO, he does not! This Rocket Scientist [I am NOT being sarcastic, he works for NASA, that makes him a Rocket Scientist in my book] with his and Andrea's religious convictions to be fruitful and multiply, gives his crazy wife son number FOUR, Paul. Predictably, after Paul's birth, Andrea goes off her meds and has to be hospitalized, AGAIN. She's back on the Haldol and stable, for a while.
Then, along comes their little girl Mary. And Andrea's predictable post partum psychosis. But this time the Doctor who “gets” Andrea has moved to the other side of town. That's an inconvenient drive for Randy, so he finds a Doctor close to home. A Doctor who refuses to prescribe Haldol, even though Haldol has proven effective for Andrea's psychosis in the past. Then when he is called to testify at her first trial, he lies his ASS off. If Randy had cared about Andrea, he'd have changed Doctors the instant this Quack refused to prescribe Haldol. And when he lied on the stand...he'd have sued for malpractice. Andrea still should, IMHO.
Let's spare a few lines here to castigate the insurance company, shall we? Andrea's last two psych hospitalizations were for unconscionably short periods of time. 10 days or 2 weeks is not enough time for a patients to get stabilized and have some meaningful therapy in a hospital setting. 28 days to 6 weeks SHOULD be the norm. And every Dahm gatekeeper knows it! But as long as insurance companies are more concerned with the bottom line than patient outcomes, these sort of stays will be the norm.
Had Andrea been allowed a sufficient time in the hospital after the birth of Mary; had she had a COMPETENT Doctor; had Randy refused to father any more children after Luke; had Randy gotten Andrea psychiatric help sooner; had Randy had live-in childcare/household help for Andrea; if the children had been in Daycare so that Andrea had not had to care for them when she was PSYCHOTIC... MAYBE none of this would have happened.
For it is my everlasting, firm belief that Andrea Yates was Psychotic. She was NOT Guilty by reason of insanity. She had a longstanding history of postpartum psychosis. The fault for the death of those precious, innocent children lies with a profit hungry insurance company; an incompetent physician; and an insensitive Husband. I know that some of my Law Enforcement readers and maybe some of you Medical readers may disagree. That is your right.
I have been down that road. But for the Grace of a Kind and Loving God, I could have been as far down the road Andrea went. No one who has not had PPD, or PPP, can ever know the HELL that it is. If you are a Man, don't even begin to try tell me you KNOW how hard it is. You can sympathize, but you cannot empathize. If you are a woman who managed to escape the postpartum period without a depression or with a Mild case, you are truly Blessed. So, pleased, count yourself as blessed and don't judge Andrea for not having your blessings.