SPENCER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two children were flown to the hospital with hypothermia Saturday after they were found near their deceased mother who police say was suffering from postpartum depression.
The incident happened in the area of Lincoln Lake Avenue NE and Riverview Drive in Spencer Township, northeast of Grand Rapids. Around midnight Saturday, the family reported to the Grand Rapids Police Department that the mother and her two children were missing.
Investigators from the Kent County Sheriff Department say it appears the 27-year-old woman was with her two kids in a parked car sometime Christmas Day.
The Grand Rapids woman apparently got out of her car, and left it running with the children inside. The woman then walked into a nearby field and apparently took her own life.
When police arrived, they found a 3-year-old girl lying partially on top of her deceased mother. The girl was conscious, but suffering from hypothermia. A 5-month-old boy was found lying in a car seat in the car — according to a news release from the KCSD.
The CEO of Postpartum Progress, Katherine Stone, said that postpartum depression is very common and one in seven mothers suffer from it.
“It’s a very surprising illness to every mom who gets it and completely unexpected of course at a time when you would expect to be completely happy and thrilled and so excited to have this new baby,” said Katherine Stone.
Stone said she suffered from postpartum depression herself and there are a number of symptoms.
“It impacts your life in ways that you can’t imagine. The symptoms can be everything from feeling disconnected and numb to feeling complete sadness and there are moms who have symptoms of anger, experience rage that they never had before in their lives,” she said.
On top of that, there are feelings of guilt and shame.
“You can’t understand why it is that you feel this way, so then on top of the symptoms themselves, you have grief and guilt and shame,” said Stone.
Stone said those feelings stop a lot of mothers from receiving the help they need.
“When you’re feeling this way, you don’t want to tell anyone. You’re afraid that people will think you’re a horrible person and a horrible mother. You don’t want anyone to know what’s going on in your head. What moms need to know is that there are hundreds of thousands of us out there and we’ve all been through this before and we know exactly what it’s like. We know what you’re thinking and we know you can get help,” Stone said.
The children were taken to the hospital by Aero-Med to be treated for hypothermia. The girl had to be rushed into surgery to remove a bullet or a fragment of one from her head. She is expected to be OK.
Investigators say it appears that the wound to the girl’s head may have been an unintended and accidental consequence of the gunshot that killed her mother. Authorities say they may never be able to confirm this.
The incident remains under investigation.