NORTON In the blizzard of problems and medical appointments during pregnancy, Tyler Sutton says mental health and postpartum depression aren’t on the list.
They should be, says Sutton, whose wife of 36 years Ariana took her own life on May 31 amid the murky depths of postpartum depression. It had been nine days since their twins were born.
Tyler Sutton, 37, an Easton police officer, is speaking about his tragic loss and his wife’s struggle to raise awareness of the importance of mental health care during and after pregnancy.
It’s not something that’s talked about enough, if at all, Sutton said in an interview with The Sun Chronicle on Monday.
Other families need to be prepared for the possibility of postpartum depression, Sutton said, and know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness lest our story become someone else’s story.
Currently, Sutton said, there is no system for the medical profession to let couples know that postpartum depression is a real possibility.
He said that in all the doctor’s appointments he and his wife have attended, mental health issues and postpartum depression were only mentioned once.
Statistics indicate that about one in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The symptoms are similar to depression, but can also involve feelings of guilt about not being a good mother or estrangement from the family and feeling disconnected from your child.
One of the biggest side effects is a feeling of shame to the point where they don’t want to talk about it, Sutton said.
In 2023, there needs to be more discussion so people can recognize the early signs, Sutton said. Mental health care and postpartum depression need to be discussed as part of the pregnancy process.
That might be scary, Sutton said, but the alternative may be a worse experience.
He said his wife was treated for postpartum depression after the birth of their first child, Melody, four years ago. However, at that time his symptoms manifested themselves over months, while the last bout of the complex condition occurred in just four days.
That’s why we were caught off guard, Sutton said.
Sutton was born and raised in Easton and has been a police officer for nine years. Grande was born in Stoughton and raised in Easton. She and her sister owned a dance studio, the Starline Academy for the Performing Arts in Stoughton.
To prepare for Melody’s birth, Sutton said he decided to switch shifts and work midnight to 8 a.m., which allowed him to earn more money and be home to help his wife care for their first child.
It was then that he began to notice small changes in his wife’s personality, such as an obsession with constantly cleaning their house and a concern about the quality of the tap water.
She’s become obsessive about things that have never bothered her in the past, Sutton said.
Then, he came home after his shift to find Melody in her crib crying and his wife in bed.
She was wide awake and staring at the wall, Sutton remembered.
He said his wife was overcome with feelings of being a bad mother to the point where she couldn’t function.
I asked her about it and she said it was like a little person settled in her head, Sutton said.
The new parents found themselves at a loss as to what to do. They found a therapist and Ariana started taking medications, Sutton said.
When her mental health didn’t improve, they eventually returned to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the same hospital where Melody was born. Ariana was hospitalized for monitoring.
Her health improved but Ariana felt she abandoned her daughter by being away from her despite assurances that she was doing the right thing.
She was released from the hospital but would return as she felt the prescribed medications weren’t working.
Sutton said his wife came home and was back to her old self again doing well, but feelings of postpartum depression were still a lingering shadow behind her.
The couple wanted to have more children, but decided to wait out the pandemic. He loved our daughter so much. She wanted a big family, Sutton said.
Ariana became pregnant with twins and was due in mid-June. However, the children a boy and a girl were born early on May 22 in Newton-Wellesley.
The twins, Rowan Stephen Sutton and Everly Irene Sutton, are doing well in newborn care, Sutton said, and are expected to be released soon.
He said his wife soon fell into depression, blaming herself for the premature birth of the twins. But this time, the doctors and Ariana had a plan to get her back into treatment, Sutton said.
Ariana was released from the hospital on May 26, but struggled as the twins, although healthy, were expected to be in neonatal care for a few weeks, Sutton said.
After taking Melody to day camp and dropping off paperwork with Easton to add the twins to their health insurance on May 31, Sutton arrived home to find his wife dead.
Unlike the depression that gradually set in after Melody was born, Sutton said no one anticipated the sudden turn.
No one could have predicted it would hit her in a matter of days, Sutton said.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, neighbors and friends have shown their support for the Sutton family. A GoFundMe page, Honoring Arianas Memory by Supporting the Suttons, has raised nearly $360,000 since it was created on June 2.
Sutton thanked friends, the Easton Police Department and the community for their support.
But she said her hope is that her family’s experience creates greater awareness of the risk of postpartum depression and the danger it poses.
My hope is that this doesn’t fade away, Sutton said.
Many people use the term baby blues because they don’t want to admit it could be postpartum depression, she said. I personally don’t like that phrase. I think people should stop using it.
To talk to someone about fighting depression you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or go to 988lifeline.org.
David Linton can be reached at 508-236-0338.
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