Reverse Mirror Image

September, the time of year when leaves crinkle beneath our feet, when the evening air becomes cool and frost teases the grass in the night. Autumn brings about weekends spent baking, cinnamon and nutmeg on the air, apple peels by the pile.

two birds

two birds

With September, comes school, a new crop of Kindergarteners, yet unable to tie shoes, to open milk cartons, to make it through the day without an obligatory band aid. With September comes the breakdown of yearly hours. Today I received my hours list, a sheet dedicated to which hours will be worked aside from regular school hours; Professional Development, special events, Christmas concerts, track meet.

I hate track meet. Even as a child I hated track meet. I, though skilled in bookwork, art, English, was atrocious at all things athletic. As an employee at a school, track meet means I am assigned to a group of rowdy kids from older grades who’s names I don’t know. I am in charge of managing them for the day, delegating when they may have their lunch breaks, and, in general, trying to keep them from being maniacs. It causes me anxiety. It’s ridiculous, but it’s one unknown day when I wander about without confidence while trying to lead a group. I don’t do well with the unknown.

I hate track meet.

Last year, I worked track meet. I asked to be assigned to a group with a helper, so I wouldn’t be on my own, because, pregnant as I was, I was likely to be taking many a pee break. The school powers that be saw an opportunity and linked me up with ‘The Coworker’, we could both carry the weight of the other at times, based on our similar ‘afflictions’ as it were.

Throughout the day we chatted. We discussed. We related. We compared. Heartburn? Check. Indigestion? Check. Nausea? Check, though all of my symptoms had lessened of late. She took frequent bathroom breaks. I took only a few. She needed to stop and sit, aching back moaning at her. I felt pretty good. Have you felt any movements yet? She hadn’t yet, she thought maybe, but it turned out to just be gas. I hadn’t either. Must be too early.

I never would. My baby had already died. Within  a week, I would know this for certain.

Yes, another post about being jealous of The Coworker.  It’s ugly and unbecoming to dwell upon this past, to focus and to covet on what another has, but I see the words ‘track meet’ on my hours list, and I am transported back to the moment, under the late May sun as our group tackled the high jump, when she and I visited comfortably, bonding over a kinship of pregnancy, I blissfully unaware that my hopes and happiness were no longer progressing. I had no idea at this time that my plans were mere days from being dashed. I was ignorant. And cocky. And wrong. I relive that moment……I revisit that snapshot over and over.

“Have you felt any movements yet?”

“Not yet, I thought maybe I did the other day, but I don’t think so. It must be too early.”

I didn’t. And I wouldn’t. And my baby was dead. And my baby would be gone within the week.

I hate track meet.

Now I watch her still, with leering eyes over a book in the lunch room. She looks ready to burst, she is short in stature, so her belly looks massive. She seems like she could pop any day. Yes, we talk, but I do not ask her how she feels. I cannot bring myself to ask her about her pregnancy. I cannot bring myself to hear an account of where I am not. She and I should be equal. We should be similarly shaped, now, both ready to greet our first children in this world. We once were equally pregnant. Now, I look at her like some fun house mirror image of something I used to be, could’ve been. And so much later, it’s nearly impossible now to fathom how I ought to be full and round like her, how I ought to be tired, awaiting my leave. How I ought to be feeling movement, the kicks and nudges of my baby.  It feels like looking in a mirror and being startled by a stranger staring back. A part of me still clings to the image of the pregnant woman, a part of my heart refuses to let go.

I’ve been invited to her baby shower this Sunday. I’ve painted a small painting for a nursery, a green and yellow elephant, giggling with balloons. I will leave it with another staff member to pass on to her. I cannot bring myself to watch her happily unwrap gifts for her baby. I know that I am not strong enough for that. Sure I’ve grown stronger, I’ve faced many fears and anxieties, I’ve changed a great deal as a person. But even still, even now, that will feel like a kick to the guts, a torture that I am not willing to submit to.

This jealousy, it’s an unbecoming thing. I am not proud.

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9 Responses to Reverse Mirror Image

  1. GK says:

    Uggh jealousy. I think it has got to be one of the most pointless emotions. It’s not like sadness or anger which can make you feel better by simply expressing them. Jealousy achieves nothing but making you feel bad about what you don’t have and then making you feel double bad about being jealous of someone else’s happiness. But despite being so completely pointless, it is probably one of the most common emotions ever. I’m thinking of starting an AA type self help groups for jealous people (Hi, my name is [x] and I’m jealous of [y]). You should definitely join. You’d be very welcome!

    On a more serious note, it is really hard to have a constant reminder of what you’ve lost. You are so kind to have painted a picture for her nursery and I’m sure she will hugely appreciate it and will understand why you can’t be at the baby shower. Small steps forward.

    • CGsaysstuff says:

      Oh my, could you imagine a crew of jealous ladies in a room together? We’d be coveting each other’s shoes like nobody’s business :).
      Thank you for your comment. I find it’s less about feeling each day that I want what she’s got than feeling the loss of what I used to have reflected in her. I suspect she will actually be relived that I don’t attend her shower. Our relationship has been truly tense on both sides since my loss.

  2. You know, my friend who is pregnant is very very sick, morning/all day sickness. She mentioned to me once that she felt so terrible because she had mean thoughts towards her baby, something she loved but that made her so very sick. I think that it is kind of the same way for you and the baby shower. Babies are such beautiful amazing creatures, so amazing we almost had our own but lost them. The constant sting every day you must feel is just literally numbing, literally “pass out from the pain” kind of feeling. I’m so sorry sweet friend. It’s normal to have frustration and harsh feelings towards things that make us sick, physically and emotionally. You are simply reacting as a human with feelings does. If you saw her and felt nothing, I think that would indicate a real tragic deep rooted problem or fear. You are so raw and you feel so purely, no filter. Don’t ever lose that and don’t ever apologize for that, never apologize for being human. There are so many people who cloud the filter because being human is a tough thing, feeling and loving and loss. But you are the strong ground, you endure it and you keep living, you don’t shut it down because it hurts. Thank you for the strong footing in helping those behind you climb.

  3. Emmie Pea says:

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this whole process, it’s that you don’t always have to be proud or strong or positive or encouraging. It’s ok to be jealous and weak and frail and vulnerable. I’ve found such support and strength from perfect strangers through this blog thing, yourself included, and I am so very greatful for that. Reading other people’s stories makes me realize that it’s perfectly normal to be jealous – so be jealous when you need to be, and don’t ever be ashamed of it. 🙂

    Thank you for putting your feelings out here for us all to read and relate to. I am thinking of and praying for you, my dear! I hope that time and support from your friends, family, and all of us strangers on the internet helps to heals your heart and spirit.

  4. blueorchid82 says:

    I can so relate to the whole jealousy thing. My husband doesn’t get it, asks me all the time why I can’t be a bit happier for the freakin tidal wave of pregnant people that seem to have come around us, both on social media and our every day lives since the ultrasound revealed no fetal heartbeat. Sending love your way as well.

    • CGsaysstuff says:

      My husband doesn’t get it either, I think he’s just resolved to let me vent and not say anything lol.
      But, I agree, it feels like everyone left and right are happily pregnant, and I’ve even become resentful of the idea of people being pregnant without the fear of losing the baby in utero. That’s a feeling I can never get back.

  5. Since I found this post with such a stunning painting (it is so soulful and beautiful) I have been pouring over all your other posts. It has been a huge comfort for me to find a voice out there that resonates so much of what I am feeling. Your words help me get in touch with my pain and sit and cry and they help me feel good because I feel less alone and feel like someone out there understands the complexity and the pain of miscarriage. I have a sister in law who is pregnant now and we have had one failed IVF and one natural pregnancy that has resulted in miscarriage all during the time she is pregnant. I feel very much towards her like you do to your ‘coworker’ and like you I can handle other pregnant women mostly but for some reason this sister in law’s pregnancy makes be envious and angry and bitter and resentful and so so so ugly and hateful….I was comforted to hear someone else struggling with the envy and pain that sits with this kind of experience. I cannot put into words how much reading your posts has helped me…I think I will come back again and again and pour over them some more at different times. I loved your description of small town gossip like vomit and blood on snow. I also live in small town that seems to readily want to devour its inhabitants with evil gossip…i don’t want them to know about my miscarriage, they would dine out and laugh on my pain. Thank you

    • CGsaysstuff says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, but I am glad you’ve found some comfort and help in my words. There is so little we can really do for one another to ease the pain, it heals my heart a little to know I’ve warmed yours.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Keep in touch. Best of luck in your journey.

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