Tony Little speaks out on devastating effects of postpartum depression

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Tony Little, bursting-with-energy fitness trainer of infomercials and the Home Shopping Network, and his wife, Melissa Hall, spoke with Today Show national correspondent Amy Robach about the effects of their twin boys' premature delivery and Melissa's ongoing struggles with postpartum depression.

Self-proclaimed “America’s personal trainer” Tony Little and his wife, Melissa Hall, discussed their family struggles following the birth of twin boys, Chase and Cody, with Today Show national correspondent Amy Robach. The twins were born three month premature, and the unexpected early birth took an enormous toll on Little and Hall, as Cody and Chase struggled for life.

Hall said there was no indication of a possible premature delivery. The former Ms. Bikini Universe had experienced a normal pregnancy. But, the babies, born in Nov. 2009, were each under two pounds, and experiencing, as one can imagine, great difficulty as they struggled for life. Cody suffered a brain bleed during the stay in the hospital, and Chase had heart surgery at only one month old.

“It was a tough experience but it was an enlightening experience to see how important research hospitals are,” Little, 54, said on Tonic.com in Dec. 2010. “Ten years ago, twins under two pounds wouldn’t have made it.”

Hall and Little met on the set of the Home Shopping Network, where the fitness guru was selling his products and Hall was a fitness model. They met, married, and got pregnant soon after the marriage. Everything seemed perfect. The couple could not have predicted all that they would experience along with that good news.

“It was hard, because you couldn’t touch them,” Little said in the Today Show interview of the twins’ life in the incubators.

“I would just see the proud dad and the mom in the wheelchair," Hall remembered, "holding their baby and they had the balloon and it was like torture. When is my baby going to be able to come home?”

After the babies did come home, the couple had to provide a lot of medical care, the most difficult being the feeding tube Chase had to have, Little said.

“He was being fed through the nose, and he would rip it out. … She’d hold him down, and I would have to try to weave the tube back down through his nose and into his stomach.”

As devastating on the situation, if not moreso, Little and Hall agree, has been Hall’s ongoing struggle with postpartum depression.

“It was a totally different person," Little said of his wife's behavior and personality change with postpartum depression. "It was very difficult for everyone here.”

“I felt like it would go away, feeling that disconnect with the children," Hall said. "Then I just said, ‘You know, Melissa, you wanted to be a mom, you wanted this responsibility to love your child. You need to be there for them.'”

Little said this has been the hardest challenge of his life. “Not having the kids, then losing my wife.”

“I always believe," Little told Robach, tears streaming down his cheeks. "There is a lot higher percentage of winning when you believe, versus not, so I always believe.”

The twins are doing well, now. However, the full extent of Cody and Chase’s medical issues will not be known for years. In fact, the boys will have to reach the age of five before Little and Hall will have a good idea about possible health problems the boys may have in the future because of their premature birth experience.

“They always make you smile," said Little. "It is an amazing thing."

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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