Yesterday, a friend and I reconnected after weeks apart. She and her littler girl came to visit, and amidst baby talk, tickling, giggles, we finally got a chance to talk. After divulging my fears of dealing with The Coworker in the next few weeks when school/work resumes, my friend said to me, ‘Maybe you need to be happy for her’.
*Update on ‘The Coworker’, she and I work together, not closely, but in a see one another every day and spend lunch in the same room capacity. We both were pregnant, and we shared a due date. One in four women will miscarry during their pregnancy, and I was that one. And she wasn’t. Working in a school has allowed me a lot of time away from the constant reminder of her. Summer is dwindling and soon I will be faced with her once again. *
So when my friend asked if I was looking forward to the new school year, I told her kind of, but I dread being faced with ‘the coworker’.
‘Maybe you need to make the first move and talk to her.’ she said.
‘Oh, I’ve talked to her, it was awkward and she was probably more uncomfortable than me, but I broke the ice before summer’ I replied, recalling the day that I worked up the courage to raise my eyes from the floor, hoping they wouldn’t water, looked at her and said, “I like your outfit.”.
“No,” my friend said to me. ” I mean, like talk to her about this.”
I couldn’t imagine what I would say. “Hi, your pregnancy makes me uncomfortable. It bums me out seeing you, watching people feel your belly, asking how you feel, asking about baby names and plans, when I know that it could’ve been me in your shoes, and it almost was. Your pregnancy hurts my heart, so stop it, ok?”
“I don’t know what I would say,” I retorted “I don’t want to tell her that seeing her is hard on me, it will only make her feel bad and that’s not fair.”
My friend picked up her little girl and blew on her tummy, trying to elicit gleeful laughter.
“Maybe you need to start being happy for her”.
I felt slapped. I felt hurt. I felt like screaming. I felt like crying.
Be happy for her? What would I do, ask her how her back pain is? Can she feel the baby kicking? Is she getting her nursery painted? All the while fighting the urge to burst into tears because I never got to feel the baby kicking? Because I have an empty room full of boxes that, by now, should be ready for a little one.
Should I give her a hug and tell her, I’m so happy for you?
I can’t. I just can’t do that.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want her to not have a baby. Her having a child does not, in all reality, change the fact that I’ve lost mine. Would I ever wish this type of loss on someone else? No. Never. The pain I went through was unlike anything I’ve ever faced. I want her to have a happy, healthy baby, and truly, I want her to have a happy, healthy life.
But I don’t want to be reminded of what I don’t have.
I don’t find myself jealous of other women with babies, of other pregnant women.
But only a few days before we lost the baby, ‘The Coworker’ and I discussed doctors, kicking (neither had felt yet), names, hopes for genders, morning sickness. Pregnancy. Due dates. The same due date.
And now I’m back to square one, having been shattered by a loss that has shaped my life.
And she’s gone on ahead, keeping pace, baby on the way.
This jealousy is an ugly thing. I see it myself, it’s a grotesque monster, looming over me and tugging at my heartstrings like a puppeteer. It has me colored with a dark bitterness, a twisted weight of envy that I see now is even becoming apparent to my closest of friends.
I was at a loss for words. It took me a few stumbling seconds to muster up cohesive language enough to say that the pain in seeing this woman, with all that she has, is less about being unhappy for her than it is, really, about the constant reminder, in a world where I’m trying to function and move onto a stage of comfort and acceptance with what I’ve lost. I’m hardly even in control of these feelings, that massive beast on my shoulder directs me and shoots a finger into my heart, sending a jolt of electricity that says, look at her, gingerly lowering herself into her chair. That’s not you. Look at how she rubs her belly, feeling nudges and movements. THAT’S NOT YOU.
So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being bitter, for being jealous, for coveting what she has. I don’t want to feel these things, I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to be seen like this.
Here I am, with one more set of feelings to keep to myself, lest I be judged. I’ll keep my complaints and my fears about ‘The Coworker’ unspoken and try to maintain the facade that I and Envy aren’t so entwined. I will try and hide our bond, so the world doesn’t have to look at me and want to turn away, afraid to make eye contact with that hulking monster on my shoulder.