Carol Blocker was the central compelling figure in a group of advocates who gathered in Washington D.C. this morning to celebrate the passage of historic postpartum depression legislation. After nearly a decade of emotionally exhausting advocacy that has taken her from coast to coast and required her to relive the experience of life's most profound maternal tragedy - the loss of her child - she stood today and claimed her victory on behalf of her daughter Melanie Blocker Stokes.
Carol embodies the eternal caretaking and dedication associated with a mother's love for her child - which crosses the boundaries of life and death, knows no limits and stops at nothing to achieve an end. In this case, Carol's end is one which will save the lives of thousands of women she will never meet. As the bill bears her daughter's name, the legacy of Melanie Blocker Stokes will be one of help and support to mothers struggling with pregnancy-related mood disorders that they might be spared and saved from a similar fate.
Standing with Congressman Bobby L. Rush, who drafted the Melanie Blocker Stokes Research and Care Act, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who drafted the The MOTHERS Act based on N.J. legislation, she softly and compellingly gave thanks for the final version, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which passed in the health care reform bill. Combined with the Mikulski amendment, which calls for insurance to cover life saving health screenings for women, this was truly a historic day for America's mothers.
Sylvia Lasalandra, author of A Daughter's Touch was present to support Carol's victory and add her own words of passion and thanks. Katherine Stone, author of The Postpartum Progress Blog, commented on the lives the legislation will save. Krysta Jones, from the American Psychological Association, spoke of the prevalence of these disorders noted by the mental health professionals in her organization. I was humbled to be included in this group on behalf of Postpartum Support International and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and urged our supporters to keep up the drum beat until the bill is funded.
Here is a wonderful video of the celebration:
But the most meaningful moment of the day for me was embracing the very brave mother who never quit, whose connection with her daughter defies a mortal separation and speaks instead to the ongoing life force shared by the two of them and Melanie's daughter, Sommer Skye. And it was indeed the bluest sky today as this group attracted major press, advocate participants and curious bystanders who found an unexpected education about maternal mental health while strolling through Capitol Hill. History for women's mental health was acknowledged and pregnant and delivering mothers who may struggle were offered, at long last, the potential of a safety net for them and their sweet babes. Thank you Carol. Thank you Melanie. And thank you Sommer Skye for being born and sharing your love with both of them.