A Note About PPD
In Baby Teeth, Alex is not just generally unhinged. She is suffering with Postpartum Depression (PPD), a form of clinical depression which affects women after childbirth. In some cases the symptoms can be frightfully severe. New research has show that PPD is much more common than previously thought.
A few years ago, following the birth of her first child, a close friend of mine, desperately struggled with the new realities of motherhood. She admitted feeling disturbingly jealous of her friends that didn’t have a child to care for. When things got bad, simple tasks like bathing and feeding became nearly impossible. This wasn’t who she felt she “was”, and yet she found herself unable to control it.
From the perspective of the viewer, some of Alex’s behavior may appear extreme, or perhaps just odd. However, the problems she’s facing are very much inline with a woman suffering this type of depression.
Recent Articles from the New York Times series – Mother’s Mind :
After Baby, An Unraveling : A Case Study in Maternal Mental Illness (June 16, 2014)
Thinking of Ways to Harm Her : New Findings on Timing and Range of Maternal Mental Illness (June 15, 2014)
Something would make her stop and put him in his crib. But for a few seconds, she could not remember “if I had killed him, or if he had drowned, or what I had done,” she said.
New York Times, June 2014
"In the year after giving birth.... as many as one in five women develop symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a combination“She fantasized about abandoning Benjamin at a fire de- partment, or faking an accident. She imagined driving at high speed into a wall, sparing Christopher’s life by inten- tionally wrecking the side of the car where Benjamin was strapped into a car seat.”
Her first medication failed. Once, she forcibly shut Benjamin’s jaw when feeding him. During several baths, “I held the water over his face until he started to flail, he could not breathe,” she said. “I was hearing a voice say- ing, ‘Do it and he will stop crying. He’s not going to wake Christopher from his nap.’ ”
Terrified she might hurt Benjamin, Ms. Guillermo said she thought about finding a family to adopt him. One night, “I just blurted out, ‘I don’t love Benjamin.’