Fathers Day is almost here and it is time to pause and thank of all the Dads out there. It's always interesting to see the dynamic between fathers and their children. My girls' father alway knew how to relate to the kid in them when they were young.
Jumping, playing and always creating "Chaos" (in my eyes...) - They laughed most of the time and sometimes cried....but ultimately he was naturally doing something I couldn't do with them as a parent.
Ayellet- Steven, tell me about yourself and your family history.
Steven- I grew up in McCandless, My father was an immigrant from Italy and my mom is from Pittsburgh. I am one of triplets and I have a younger sister. When we were young, everyone knew us as "the triplet family". We were always very active - we played tennis, golf and skied. It was important to my parents that we play a sport we can play for life .
A - You meet Alexis and you marry and move back to Pittsburgh, why the move back?
S - We wanted to start a family and have the support of family around. We got pregnant right away and Alexis had a smooth uneventful pregnancy.
A - How was the delivery?
S -Traumatic. When arriving to the Hospital after her water broke, she was told by a specific Doctor that there are multiple births at this time, and that she isn't a priority. She was in the delivery room with a nurse and myself. Very soon after, the baby was literally coming out, and the nurse was asking me to help her until the Doctor came back. The baby's umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and the nurse turned the delivery to code blue. Within minutes the room was filled with doctors, who managed to deliver Adriana - everyone was with the baby making sure she was okay until they finally got a scream out of her. At that moment , I turned around and looked at Alexis. She was laying there emotionless - I looked at her face and there was nothing there. She was gone. She had this gaze in her eyes I've never seen before.
A - Describe the next six weeks at home with Alexis and baby Adriana.
S - Alexis was suffering from severe Postpartum depression. More than anything, she wanted to be a great mother. The anxiety and stress consumed her and she was struggling. She had repeatedly asked for help. I was on the phone with different doctors and hospitals. There was no place for new mothers who struggled with PPD. We were turned down by seven different hospitals. No one would admit her with her baby. After being shuffled from one hospital to another, and from one doctor to another with no one really knowing what to do with her, she was given a double dose of her medication by her OBGYN who wasn't an expert in mental health, which worsened her symptoms. That same day she took her own life, only six weeks after giving birth.
A - From that moment, what happens with you?
S - In a show of love and support, family and friends all showed up at the hospital. It was too much for me, I couldn't be around anyone. My thoughts were all over the place. I was consumed with grief, frustration, anger, and disbelief of what had just happened .My childhood Priest came to the hospital and took me to a quiet room where we just talked and for the first time, I felt calm. After I decided to donate her organs, I started thinking about what's next. How do I make sense of losing the love of my life? was her life all in vane? isn't there a bigger picture?
A - How did you start heeling and what was your next move?
S - Two months after I lost Alexis, my close family planned a ski trip to Breckenridge, Co.
On the ski slope I realized that doing what I loved was exactly what I needed to pull myself back up from the darkness. It was clear to me on the day I lost her that something needed to be done with women's mental health issues. I wanted to honor the legacy of Alexis' life. I had to find a way to celebrate her life and help other women in need.
A - Tell me about the Alexis Joy Foundation.
S - Our mission is to be a shining light for women and families suffering from and affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders spanning, but not limited to, infertility, postpartum depression, and infant and child loss.
By educating the community with my story, the foundation strives to raise awareness and develop programs needed for these women and families.
A - Let's talk about Adriana and fatherhood
S - Adriana is almost 6 years old now. We have a very special bond. She travels with me as I go all over to bring awareness to the cause.
The way I see it is that I get 100% of her. She is in many ways a lot like her mom.
She is surrounded by beautiful, strong women - her two grandmothers and my own sisters who all help me raise her. As we all know - It takes a village.....
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