Brooke Shields and Oprah

Two years ago the world was charmed by this beautiful new movie-star mother and her newborn baby daughter. But behind closed doors, Brooke Shields was falling apart, descending into a downward spiral of misery and despair—a depression so strong, she says, she even considered taking her own life.

Brooke is talking for the first time about her mental collapse, the disturbing voices she heard in her head and how she managed to survive the darkest period of her life. Her new book is called Down Came The Rain.
Brooke Shields

Brooke and her husband Chris had tried very hard to conceive a child, going through many different types of in vitro fertilization treatments. Their first pregnancy resulted in an extremely painful miscarriage in the third month.

"I had to mourn it but I also didn't want to waste any time, and I had this tunnel vision with regards to getting pregnant; have a baby," Brooke says. "I thought, 'God, if it happened once, it can happen again.' And I just didn't look back."

When Brooke became pregnant with Rowan, she says the pregnancy was perfect.

"I actually felt strong. I felt good. Easy," she says. "I didn't have morning sickness. I was fine. Was able to do yoga and everything was picture perfect. And it was what I always thought it would be, you know?"

Looking back, Brooke says she put too much focus on doing things perfectly.

"I made the stakes so high in my own mind and thought that everything would come into focus in my life. Every area that was void or empty would be filled. My insecurities would go away. It was the pressure that I even put on this child mentally myself—even before she was born."
Brooke Shields and Oprah

Brooke says the delivery was far from ideal. She was induced and after 24 hours, she had an emergency Caesarean section. The umbilical cord had become wrapped around the baby's neck, body and leg. In her book, Brooke compares the C-section to being gutted like a fish on a crucifix.

"And what had happened was my uterus, during the 24 hours of labor, had herniated," Brooke explains. "So they literally took it out and put it on this tray with force like I have never imagined in my life. And I see people—I say it's like pile driving, you know, wrestlers sort of pile driving —over my stomach…You see them over the curtain, and they're using all their weight, and they get her out and she gets taken away. I don't see her at first. I didn't stop bleeding. And so the baby got taken away, given to her father, and the doctor sort of comes around to me and says, 'We may have to do a hysterectomy.'

"And I'm thinking, 'No, no, no. You can't take my uterus away from me now.' And he said, 'Well, I want to watch you for 24 hours and see if you will stop bleeding.' And thank God he put all the pieces back in the places where they needed to be and sewed me up and eventually my uterus did stop bleeding and he did not have to do an emergency hysterectomy."
Brooke Shields

Brooke said she first felt the rage in the delivery room when she saw Chris holding Rowan in his arms.

"In one instant I looked at him and I thought, 'Well, fine. I've done all of this, I'm sitting here with nothing that I came in [with] attached to me any longer, people are all around, this baby gets born and she's fine, she's in his arms, and he's having a moment.' You know? He's having this glorious moment," Brooke recalls.

"[It was the] moment I wanted—that I felt like I deserved and earned and had worked so hard for," Brooke says. "And [Chris] just got to come in and it all got directed to that. And I thought I was jealous of his association with her. I was so angry that he was happy and everybody else was happy and I was possibly—I thought I was going to die because I kept losing so much blood that they were going to do a transfusion. And in one split second, my world had turned completely upside down and…I didn't want to be happy for him and the baby."
Brooke Shields and Oprah

Brooke said she thought angels would sing the day she gave birth, but her high expectations were crushed. "Everybody says it's the most amazing moment in your life," Brooke says. "I don't know how many people are really telling the truth because I think it becomes amazing—you have to grow into it. It was so dramatic and it was not glorious."

Returning home from the hospital, Brooke's feelings began to darken and she found herself completely unable to bond with her baby. She found herself crying hysterically and overwhelmed with feelings of rage and self-hatred. "I had no desire," Brooke remembers, "to even pretend to care about her. And it absolutely terrified me."
Brooke Shields and Oprah

Oprah: In your case you're not just talking about what we've heard called the typical "baby blues." We're talking about serious mental trauma. Right?

Brooke: This gripped my heart to such an extent that I didn't even have the desire to try to overcome it. I mean, I was flattened by it. I was devastated by it. And it wasn't the "baby blues." And I was told it was the "baby blues" at first. And so then, what was wrong with me was even worse. I thought, "Well then I must epitomize failure if I can't even get past this."

Oprah: And I can see how it would be compounded because you've lived this sort of perfect life. Or what appeared to be the perfect life.

Brooke: And then we also have this image of motherhood, you know, the breast feeding and hair cascading down and connection with the infant instantly.
Brooke's husband Chris

Brooke's husband Chris was stunned by his wife's reaction to their baby. "You expect this happy moment of joyful hugging and stuff like that…and it's just a little quieter, much more intense—and things are just not quite right."

About a week after the baby was born, Chris broke down. "He went out to get a changing table," Brooke says, "and he came back much sooner than I thought. And he sat down and burst into tears. … He said, 'What is wrong with you? You don't sing to the baby. You don't even look at the baby.' He said, 'I was in the store and there were women who are happy to hold their children.' … He just couldn't handle seeing them and knowing what he had waiting for him at home."
Brooke Shields

Brooke continued to think she was having an intense version of the "baby blues" until friends suggested that she was suffering from postpartum depression. She spoke with her doctor and he prescribed antidepressants. "I thought," Brooke remembers, "absolutely not. … I was really insulted and I was very embarrassed. And my husband said, 'Please, there's nothing wrong with it. Just try.'"

Brooke agreed to try, and gradually, she began to feel better. "Very slowly," Brooke says, "I desired to be around her a bit more…I started to like her a little bit more."
Brooke Shields and her daughter Rowan

Brooke has now bonded with her daughter. "I can smell her breath now and my mouth waters," Brooke gushes. Brooke says she even feels prepared to have another baby!

What important message does Brooke have for mothers? Don't ignore the symptoms of postpartum depression out of embarrassment or shame, she says. "It has nothing to do with your love for [your children]. … It is something that is in your body, the loss of estrogen, the amount of hormones. … Pay attention to the feelings that you're feeling and talk about it and ask your doctor. … Find out what medicine's available. You don't have to be miserable."