June 16, 1997 12:00 PM

Correspondents were incensed by a caption on our contents page describing postpartum depression as not an “option” for sexy celebrity moms (PEOPLE, May 26). We were reminded, forcefully, that postpartum depression is a serious medical condition and not an option for anyone. Many other readers expressed the view that our take on post-pregnancy fitness ignored the realities of most mothers’ lives.

SEXY MOMS

Your statement about postpartum depression was not only ignorant but insensitive to those of us who have suffered through the ordeal. It wasn’t an “option” for me either but a reality that resulted from years of infertility, a three-month hospitalization with a twin pregnancy, and little support when I arrived home with my babies. I am sure we could all fit your ideal of sexy if we had a full-time nanny, personal trainer and housekeeper.

NAME WITHHELD, Detroit

As a medical professional who sees postpartum depression almost daily, I was angered by your caption. Mild postpartum depression occurs 3 to 10 days after delivery in up to 80 percent of women who give birth. Psychotic depression occurs in nearly 3 percent, and the severest symptoms include suicide and infanticide. To suggest this condition is optional for sexy celebrities is ludicrous and a flippant insult to a large segment of your audience.

KATHY I. BARANGER, R.N. New Haven

I wish I’d known earlier that my wife had a choice as she suffered through nearly three years of postpartum depression following two pregnancies. I will surely have to chastise her for making such an irrational choice! Your casual portrayal of this condition is irresponsible and reprehensible.

CHARLES W. KILLEWALD

Chesterfield, Mich.

As I sit here in my robe at 4 p.m., my 10-day-old baby girl trying to latch on to my swollen breast, my eyes red and my body aching for sleep, I can only think of one thing to say about your article “Sexy Moms”—who cares? If only I could feel the sense of relief of having nurses and nannies and personal trainers. Going to the bathroom and taking a shower is a luxury. The women you write about do not seem to be new mothers but rather rich and famous surrogates who let others handle the hardest parts of new motherhood.

LORI A. OTTEN, Farmingdale, N.Y.

Oh, great. Not only did I not look like these “Sexy Moms” before I had kids, but now the pressure is on to look like a supermodel afterward too! How come being sexy means you must look like you never gave birth at all? Why can’t round, curvy, real women and moms be considered sexy too? I do, however, applaud these actresses in their push to get on-site daycare and flexible work schedules. Hopefully this will help set a precedent in the workplace for the rest of us.

MELISSA CARROLL, New York City

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD

I found my personal tragedy written in the words of your interview. In the five years since my son was born, I have tried to modify the number of hours I work. Sadly the government agency that employs me simply will not accommodate part-time work. As I read about parents who choose to give up the opportunities I can only dream of, I am struck by the inequities of life.

MELODY COTREL, Burbank

Every parent in America needs to read Arlie Hochschild’s book The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home & Home Becomes Work as a how-to on what not to do. Take it from me. I am a professional nanny. Every single day, Mom and Dad come home a few minutes later than the day before. Toys? These kids have wall-to-wall toys and are always wanting more and more junk to assuage their loneliness for their parents. Movies? Sports? Scouting? Anything so that the actual time Mom and Dad spend with them at home is diminished. And when these parents do come through the door, they want no responsibilities. All the hard work I have done raising their children goes right out the door. The lessons in patience, manners, work, playing well with others and discipline hit the road. The housework I have done? Trashed in minutes and left for me the next day. This isn’t one family; this is every one of you parents who get more satisfaction from “service award” plaques for your desk than from raising your children properly. And I have a few words of advice for you. Whatever the extra income is buying isn’t worth it! If you cannot do right—and I mean right—by these children, then do us all a favor and don’t have them.

ANONYMOUS

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