Woman With Postpartum Depression Pleads Guilty

ByChelsea J. Carter

L A G U N A   N I G U E L, Calif., July 6, 2001 -- A woman accused of trying to drown her twin babies pleaded guilty to child endangerment today and was given probation by a judge who called it a case of postpartum depression.

Paula Thompson, 46, entered the plea under a deal that will keepher out of prison.

Superior Court Judge Pamela Iles placed the woman on probationfor five years. She said Thompson would be allowed supervisedvisits with the twins and her third child, a 3-year-old boy.

"This is not a child abuse case. This is a postpartumdepression case," the judge told Thompson. "We want to walk youthrough this nightmare you've been through."

Wanted to Kill Her Children

Thompson appeared composed in court. In her purse was a magazinecarrying the headline "I Killed My Children," a reference toAndrea Yates, a Houston mother charged with drowning her fivechildren last month. Yates' husband said she was suffering frompostpartum depression.

"I pray for her every night. I know how she felt," Thompsonsaid. "It's an illness."

Thompson was arrested Dec. 12 after her mother-in-law found herin a bathroom with the twins, who were wet, fully clothed andcrying. The twins, a boy and a girl, were 4 months old at the time.

Authorities said Thompson told sheriff's deputies she wanted tokill the children. She was sent to the University of California,Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital forevaluation.

Hopes to Get Well

Thompson was also ordered to perform 160 hours of communityservice, submit to psychiatric care and notify the court if shechanges her physician.

"I would like nothing more than to get in my car, drive homeand see my children," Thompson said outside court. "But they wantto make sure I'm well. I want to make sure I'm well."

Thompson and her husband, John, said they have joined apostpartum depression support group and are trying to put theirfamily back together.

While both knew she was suffering from postpartum depression,they say they neither knew the extent of it until she was found inthe bathroom.

"The night before she was singing Christmas carols," said JohnThompson, 47.

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