Another Woman Dies Needlessly

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This story just came out today in the Associated Press – thanks to my Aunt Jan for sending it to me. For those women going through a post partum disorder right now, please don’t be afraid. I thought about editing this story so it wouldn’t scare you, but it’s the truth and all of us need to be truthful with each other to help get rid of the shame that goes along with this illness. If you need to reach out for help, email me and I and the women across the country who have been through this will do WHATEVER we need to to help you.

Award-winning teacher kills baby, self
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Michigan (AP) — A woman who was honored this spring as teacher of the year killed her 5-week-old daughter and then herself after battling the type of depression that comes with childbirth, officials said.

Daniel Moffitt found the body of his 37-year-old wife, Mary Ellen Moffitt, on the couple’s bed Monday. Police say she killed herself, apparently by putting a plastic bag over her head. The baby, Caroline, was found on the couch, tightly wrapped in a blanket and also dead of asphyxiation.

“It’s horrific,” police detective Thomas Hannon said. “What else can you say?”

Moffitt had been undergoing treatment for postpartum depression, police said. Police were waiting for toxicology reports from autopsies conducted Tuesday.

In May, the East Detroit School District named her teacher of the year. She taught first grade at Crescentwood Elementary in Eastpointe.

“She told me how happy she was about having her first baby,” school board member Corrinne Harper said. “She said she was looking forward to having the baby — she didn’t even want to know what sex it was because she wanted it to be a surprise.”

Dara Knill, president of the East Detroit teachers union, recalled Moffitt as “a very upbeat person … just the kind of gal you could always approach.”

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Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. D.A. Gray says:

    I cried and was very saddened to hear of yet another mother and child becoming victims to the far end of postpartum complications. I wonder too, how will society answer the questions of those children who are now orphans as a result of their mothers' lack of comprehensive medical care. Unless all professionals are on the same page, working toward providing more answers than questions, the cycle of medical neglect, especially where hormonal imbalance and heredity play a major role, will only grow more prevalent, like an undiagnosed cancer.
    I am reminded especially today, August 2, of how very blessed I am not to have crossed the line twenty six years ago. There was no postpartum term, no professional, or medicine available that could bring me back from the depths of psychosis, and deep depression in 1997, (and 1972 previously). "For the grace of God" I did come full circle after three and a half years of carrying the emotional scars of guilt and shame for something that almost was, but thank God did not occur. Not much, unfortunately, has changed to provide for real postpartum preventative measures during those twenty-six years. Can we rightfully call ourselves a "First World Nation", when postpartum mothers are still falling through the crack?
    Lately, the media does write about mothers like this that were also pharmacists, professors, and now, "A teacher of the year". This women thrived as a teacher, but was not given the same educational courtesy or opportunity to thrive as a mother. If education is the key, the right doors must be made available by both medical and psychological disciplines to provide the teachings for society to find the right combination to unlock the postpartum phenomenon recorded as far back as 400 B.C. All disciplines, who provide medical care to mothers, must strive toward finding those keys to bring about a POSTPARTUM PREVENTION MODEL.
    Perhaps another documentary needs to be done by Angela Shelton. Ms. Shelton is a model, actress and film maker who did a documentary that searched for other Angela Shelton's in the United States. Of those she found, fifty percent shared like abuses as Angela did: rape, incest, molestation and domestic violence. As children we kept those secrets of abuse in the sub-conscious mind; as mothers those same secret abuses can, and in my case did, become part of the "unknown" variables amid normal everyday stressors that can and do cause postpartum depression and psychosis. I was once told by doctors treating me that, "you'll never get any better". It had more to do with their own inability to help me. I eventually made it, but the effects were seen for years within the family structure, and my daughter and I did not bond until she was a sophomore in college. This simply should not be an acceptable norm. I implore all who read this to: contact your legislators to pass HR 846; and get involved with organizations such as Depression After Delivery and Postpartum Support International, who have available educational brochures that your area's OB's and all professionals can provide to mothers-to-be and their families. Demand to be informed of the facts we do know as opposed to those medical facts still awaiting scientific proof. It may make the difference literally between saving the lives of future mothers and their children. "Always A Mother", D. A. Gray

  2. francesca says:

    all mothers i am starting a support group in san francisco for mothers suffering from postpardum depression. please call me at 415 574 9288 or please email me with your sitautionand i will email you or call you with my support i to suffered from ppd for two years i can help!!

  3. Jennifer Ackman says:

    I think im suffering from postpardum too im on zoloft and busbar i love my kids but i cry everyday i dont think anyone understands me i drive my husband crazy with paranoia and i dont know why my doctor sent home a pamphlet on postpardum for him to read i read it to him while he dozed off the doctor wanted us to go over it together and i guess im just way to demanding i had my baby 3 months to go. i just dont know why its still there. i dont want to hurt my kids but sometimes i want to hurt myself. i try talking to peopple about it i try to exercise and i want to sleep constantly i have a 7 year old child also i work and watch kids i feel like im losing it but id never hurt my children how long will this take to go away and what else can i do to help myself i feel as though people are losing there patience with me. i cant seem to keep anything clean im just lazy and i feel useless and alone i need help before i ruin my relationships i feel i already started i trust my husband but recently spied on his computer conversations. hes never given me a reason not to trust him but 4 some reason i obsess about stupid things, and as much as i try not too it still seems to happen. im at the end of my rope with this depression. i need serious help

  4. I’ve been thinking about Daniel Moffit today, wondering how he is. A friend taught with Mary Ellen. These stories keep coming, and a decade ago, she was described as having PPD. I doubt it. Always so sad when this happens.