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Post Mortems

9-1-1's Jennifer Love Hewitt Explains How Maddie's Storyline Helped Her Through Her Own Postpartum Journey

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Spoiler alert: We’re about to break down Maddie’s revealing return to 9-1-1. Haven’t watched? You’ve been warned.

If watching Monday’s 9-1-1 made you emotional, just imagine how Jennifer Love Hewitt feels. Actually, you don’t have to.

TVLine spoke with the actress about this week’s Maddie-centric hour, which answered every conceivable question that fans have asked since the character last appeared in October 2021. The episode, a deep exploration of Maddie’s postpartum struggles, also hit close to home for Hewitt.

“When we started doing Maddie’s pregnancy storyline, I was not pregnant, but very quickly into that storyline, I found out that I was,” she tells TVLine. “So I was pregnant while she was pregnant. And with the timing of everything, I also ended up sort of being on my own postpartum journey as I was filming her postpartum episodes. It was very interesting timing throughout the whole thing for her and I. It was actually very helpful. My postpartum was sort of rushed through because I had to give it all to Maddie. [Playing that character] gave me a place to put all the emotions. So it helped me, in real life, push through it probably a lot faster than I would have. I was very grateful for that.”

“The after having a baby part is as important for the mom and for the partner of the mom to pay attention to,” Hewitt adds. “There’s a lot that happens. I literally just went through this where I had postpartum. Fortunately, I had people around me to pay attention and tell me that I didn’t seem like myself or that maybe I was struggling more than I was allowing myself to vocalize. I’m so grateful to be playing this storyline for people out there. I hope that they feel seen and heard and can help people who might be struggling and feel like they can’t say anything. I hope it helps somebody.”

This week’s episode brought us back to the moment Maddie let Jee-Yun slip under the bathwater, the moment she dropped the baby at the firehouse, and the moment she recorded that heartbreaking message for Chimney. It then showed us a moment we hadn’t seen before — Maddie’s attempt to drown herself in the ocean. But she persevered, returning to the Boston hospital where she worked as a nurse, this time to check herself in as a patient.

Beyond her depression, Maddie was diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis, a treatable condition in which a person’s thyroid becomes inflamed after they give birth. After so much uncertainty, she was relieved to find out what she was actually dealing with.

“There are these very simple blood tests they do for women after [giving birth], and then they just send you out. They’re like, ‘Well, it looks fine. You must just be feeling weird.’ I appreciated that in Maddie’s storyline, we really get into how part of what happened to her was just a missed hormone panel that no one paid attention to because she fell into this rare category of people who needed this certain kind of thing for her thyroid,” Hewitt tells TVLine. “I’m sure there will be women out there watching who will think, ‘I’ve been feeling weird, maybe I need to go ask for that and look more into that.’ Or reach out to people and say, ‘I’m not feeling right,’ and they have to pay attention.”

Monday’s episode also chronicled Chimney’s search for the mother of his child, with he and Maddie ultimately meeting by chance; he was the volunteer paramedic when a new friend of hers had too much to drink on St. Patrick’s Day. It wasn’t how either of them wanted to come face to face after so much time, but life rarely affords us such options.

During an extremely emotional chat, Maddie brought Chimney up to speed on how she’s been, prompting him to apologize for ignoring the warning signs, and for believing she was OK just because he wanted her to be OK. They agreed that they’ve both spent too much time running from the truth, and that they need to start being honest about how they feel and what they want.

“There’s a real hole in mental health for women after they have a baby in that it’s very much like walking on egg shells,” Hewitt says. “No one wants to upset the tired new mom who’s breastfeeding and doing all of this. And the moms are sitting there like, ‘Why isn’t anybody asking if I’m OK? I don’t feel right.'”

So, what’s next for Maddie now that she’s decided to come home? Hewitt says it’s important to remember that “anyone who’s been in any sort of treatment needs to reacclimate themselves to life. They need to get back into their old clothes, their old shoes, their old ways and bring the new things with them. From he moment she is able to go, ‘I am ready to be a mom again and I can do that,’ she’s going to full into being a mom again. That is for the rest of the season. There are no more weird or unsure moments with that baby. She is just happy to be a mom again, and feel confident and good about her ability to do so.”

As for Chimney and Maddie’s relationship, things are still “complicated,” Hewitt admits. “Is there love there? Was that ever the problem? No. But can you step back in when one person has been left, and the other person felt like they had to leave, and go right back into a normal relationship? Absolutely not. So, yeah, it’s complicated. But Maddie and Chimney have been through a lot. We’re not going to leave the audience hanging on that answer for very long, but it won’t feel totally put back together and normal right away. That wouldn’t be real.”

How do you feel now that you’ve gotten Maddie’s entire story? Drop a comment with your thoughts on Monday’s episode below.

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