Moving into a new apartment in Manhattan is always memorable. It was a glorious day in early May and our daughters were 7 and 9. The movers brought the baby grand piano in first and the rest of the move went quickly. Our new next-door neighbor, Christy (a pretty blue-eyed blonde of about 28) brought us a plate of cookies as a welcoming gift. Her adorable baby daughter Pam, about 6 months old, sat patiently in a stroller. Our terraces were adjoining and Christy recommended a good place in the neighborhood where I could buy draperies to cover the glass doors. She also left me her phone number should there be an emergency or anything else I might need. I could tell, this was going to be a true friendship.
On Memorial Day weekend the rooftop pool opened. Arlene Duchovny (a take-charge young woman of about 20) was the lifeguard and instructed all the kids in the building about safe swimming techniques. She ran water games and all the children were included. Arlene would whirl around in the shallow end and take little Pam for rides. Needless to say if you had to live in this marvelous metropolis, this was a great place to live. I remember getting out of the pool, drying off, throwing on a pair of shorts and t-shirt, taking the elevator down and running across the street to the Grand Union market to buy fresh corn on the cob, some seafood or meat for dinner. Many of us grilled steaks, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers and seafood upstairs on warm summer nights. One night I brought a platter of grilled hamburgers and homemade potato salad to Christy. When she opened the door I was stunned to see her looking so distraught, her eyes red and swollen from crying. I handed her the platter and asked if she was okay? She said she had a terrible headache, probably brought on by the fact that her ex-husband was threatening to take custody of little Pam. “He thinks I’m mentally unbalanced,” she whispered, I asked where he lived? “Park Avenue” she answered. I asked how could I help -- go to the drugstore or babysit with Pam while she rested? She thanked me and assured me she’d be fine. She thanked me for the food and hugged me saying she hadn’t eaten all day.
A few days later our older daughter had her 10th birthday party. It was a giant success -- 6 girls for lunch and swimming. As soon as the party ended she and her little sister went on their errands. They had set up a dog-walking business and set about collecting their charges. Baci was a border collie who was very smart and attentive. Scotch and Soda were a pair of scotties – one black, one white. I watched from the terrace as the girls walked the three dogs up and down along the sidewalk, giggling all the way.
That evening we ate a quiet family dinner with yet another birthday cake and had settled down to watch a little television. The girls went to bed at 9. My husband followed suit at 11. Shortly after midnight I began to see search lights flickering near the terrace. I peaked out and became alarmed as I noticed Christy standing close to the railing of her terrace, cradling Pam in her arms. There was a hook and ladder fire department truck below. Several fire fighters were holding a huge net directly below Christy's terrace. I quickly grabbed my door key and took the elevator down to the lobby. Two police officers were approaching the elevator. I blurted out that it was my next-door neighbor who was attempting to jump. As we rode up to my floor they asked if I had Christy’s phone number. I said yes and explained that my terrace was adjacent to hers in the event they needed to use it.
One officer followed me inside to take a look. The other said they would break down her door but as a distraction, I should call her phone number and keep her on the phone. If she didn’t answer, just keep letting the phone ring.
After several tense moments the police broke down the door. Paramedics arrived quickly, placed Christy on a gurney and took her away by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital where she was be put under a 72-hour psychiatric hold. I took baby Pam in my arms and rocked her while the cops called headquarters to get information about Christy’s ex-husband. Apparently he was already on his way. I grabbed Pam’s diaper bag and her bottle from the fridge. The police suggested we wait down in the lobby so they could seal up the apartment. I had heard about postpartum psychosis but this was my first encounter with it. An attractive young man with tears streaming down his cheeks raced across the lobby. He took Pam in his arms, hugging and kissing her. He said, “Daddy’s here. Daddy’s here, Pammie and I’ll never let you go, I promise.”
Since the tragic events which took place in Washington D.C. recently involving Miriam Carey I thought this was an opportunity to finally tell this story. I'm a grandmother now but this episode is etched in my memory and I can never forget it.
Attention – all new Moms. According to my recent research, new mothers may have a case of the “baby blues” which can last for a few days to a couple of weeks. The typical symptoms include: sadness, irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, anxiety, crying and decreased concentration. Postpartum depression symptoms will be longer lasting and may interfere with your ability to cope, take care of your baby and handle normal tasks. These include: withdrawal from family and friends, insomnia, mood swings, loss of appetite, fatigue, anger, feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy and difficulty bonding with your baby. Postpartum depression might last for several months. It is vital that you speak to your OB-GYN, family and/or personal physician to alert them and explore possible treatment options. Postpartum psychosis is extremely serious. These are severe symptoms which include: paranoia, hallucinations, delusional behavior, confusion or disorientation, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. Although it is rare, it is a deadly threat and must be taken care of immediately. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these most severe symptoms, your medical professional should be alerted immediately.