Pregnancy is beautiful, welcoming your newborn into the world and taking them home for the first time is magical. The excitement, the bond, the pure blissful love for this child that you waited nine long months to meet, these are all the emotions that you and others expect you to feel at the arrival of your baby.
It’s something that people who have or are going through don’t talk about much. How could someone ever admit that the emotions so standard for a new mother and assumed to exist by others just aren’t there? It’s not that you don’t love your baby, you just don't feel anything. You feel numb, and the joy that you want to feel so deeply doesn't come out.
It doesn’t just start after birth, for many it starts months before. You feel lonely, unseen and unheard, and your identity has been completely enveloped by this new stage in life. Some will speak up about it, but many will not. You carry your loneliness, your fears and the stabbing pain deep inside. You swallow hard, and you paste a smile on your face and force a laugh with others, while it lingers still like a lump in your throat. The moment you’re alone it all comes out; the tears and stifled sobs pour out of you. Maybe you write it down to clear your head, maybe you let your thoughts and emotions swirl around in your brain and drive yourself crazy. Everyone finds their own way to cope. Some seek help, a person to talk to and a shoulder to cry on, but so many are silent.
The light at the end of the tunnel is when your baby arrives, right? Maybe then things will change. Maybe then your raging hormones will stop toying with your mind and the sweetest face of your infant will make all of the pain go away. But then it doesn’t, and you sink even deeper into your despair. And as family and friends swarm around you and talk of the unspeakable bond between a mother and her child, and how they remember these days of blissful feelings and sleepless nights, and how the struggles of motherhood are outweighed by the love you now feel, all you do is smile…and stay silent. Never to let anyone know the feelings of guilt, pain or disappointment that you feel. This is the horrible reality that so many mothers face.
You never know who is struggling during or after birth. Some will share openly, but so many are scared to talk. It’s personal, it’s deep, it’s a terrifying reality that you never expected to experience. It happens to more women than you know.
As mothers, whether you have experienced this or not you know what it is. Silence often speaks louder than words, so listen for the silent. The ones who would normally speak but now don‘t, who would smile and now rarely do, these are signs. Be their voice when they can’t find their own, be their eyes when they can’t see clearly, and have a ready ear if they want to talk. And if you experience this, take comfort and know it’s not forever. Some bonds are born, some bonds are made, no matter whether it’s instant or developed, the bond of a mother and child will always be there. You will get through this, you are strong and you are brave. Don’t give in to the dark hole of despair, but keep fighting knowing that one day you will make it through to the other end. Then it will all have been worth it. Then the feelings you’ve been unable to express and experience will finally shine through. Help cannot be forced, but don‘t be afraid to seek it. You’re not alone in what you go through. We are the silent. We were the silent. But one day we will no longer be the silent.
I was in my second trimester when I lost my voice. I was in my third trimester when I told my husband. I was 8 weeks postpartum when I asked for help. It was a long journey, but I reached the light at the end of the tunnel before he turned six months, and it was worth every moment of struggle. Never lose hope, and know you are not alone. Though we may walk in silence, in our silence is strength and sheer will to persevere. And in the end, you will make it through. And until you reach that day, I call on all women, mothers or not, to speak for the silent.