Last October, Canadian new dad Kim Chen had it all: a lovely, loving wife and brand new baby boy that they had anticipated with excitement. But then, in an instant, everything changed: his wife Florence Leung left their two-month-old son and disappeared. Her car was found the next day, but her body not for another agonizing month. Her death was an apparent suicide, and Chen says Florence was suffering from postpartum depression.
He told the CBC that anxiety over breastfeeding contributed to his wife’s PPD, that she was very stressed over it and was not sleeping.
He said the process had created stress, and that Leung had had trouble sleeping.
“There were challenges,” he recalled.
Now Chen is turning Florence’s too-short life into a memorial with a mission: to save other mothers from succumbing to the lies of postpartum depression. On a Facebook page dedicated to his wife’s memory and his new cause, Chen writes to new moms:
“For all the new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings. You are not alone. You are not a bad mother…Do not EVER feel bad or guilty about not being able to ‘exclusively breastfeed’, even though you may feel the pressure to do so based on posters in maternity wards, brochures in prenatal classes, and teachings at breastfeeding classes.”
Chen then shared an article about Allison Goldstein, an American mom who left her4-month old daughter and daycare and then drove off to a deserted road to kill herself. Her husband, parents, and sister had NO idea she was suffering from postpartum depression at all. She never said a word (read Allison’s family’s plea to new moms here.)
Chen also gives an update on he and Florence’s son, saying that despite his loss, he is doing great. “Our baby boy is growing well and well taken care of, he is at 90th percentile for height and weight, and smiles and laughs a lot! He’s beginning to do tripod-sitting, and will turn over soon.”
Friends, if you know a new mom, please, please, please ask her about her feelings and mental state, even if you don’t have reason to suspect a thing. It just might save a life.
Please spread the word about postpartum depression, and share Florence’s story on Facebook.