When a Pennsylvania man woke up one morning to find his wife not in bed, he knew something was wrong.
As TODAY reports, Steven D’Achille, 36, recalled:
“I could hear the baby crying downstairs, hysterical. My heart just hit the floor and I knew something bad had happened.”
When Steven got to his wife Alexis, he realized that she had attempted suicide. According to TODAY, Steven called 911 and performed CPR on Alexis until paramedics arrived. Once at the hospital, she remained on life support for two days before passing away in 2013.
Their daughter, Adriana, was only six weeks old.
After experiencing a tough time birthing Adriana, who initially couldn’t breathe, Alexis began suffering from postpartum psychosis.
According to Postpartum Support International, it is a rare but extremely serious postpartum mental condition that causes delusions, hallucinations, and often results in death by suicide
“Alexis would just cry and cry and say, ‘I can’t do this.’ I would find her on the closet floor, on the ground, crying her eyes out.”
The couple had made several attempts to get help for Alexis prior to her death. However, doctors just boiled her depression down to “baby blues,” told her she’d feel better soon, and sent her home.
One doctor doubled her antidepressant, but that seemed to only make things worse.
Alexis told her husband, whom she called “Pop”:
“Pop as soon as I got on the (medication) it is making me have all these bad bad thoughts.”
After her death, Steven was in disbelief that there were no resources to help women like his wife.
“How is it possible there are no resources for moms when they have a baby? This is so unfair.”
So he decided to do something about it.
Steven started The Alexis Joy Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support for new moms and families. Further, Steven partnered with the Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health in Pittsburgh.
Together, they created the Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health.
As Today reports, the center provides an outpatient program “where women meet with a therapist weekly.”
Additionally, an intensive program is available. It “involves three-hour sessions three days a week and includes mother-baby interaction.”
Dr. Sarah Homitsky, the medical director of Women’s Behavior Health at the center, said:
“Women are far more engaged whenever the baby is involved.If you treat a mom without a baby there is a higher rate of relapse.”
Foster bonding includes programs such as infant massage, baby wearing, mom and baby yoga, and plenty of space for breastfeeding.
The dad is happy his wife’s experience is benefiting others.
Steven told TODAY:
“She would be really proud. I think about the lives these children get, a normal life, because of the services we offer.”
The father feels he has made Pittsburgh the “safest city in America for moms.”