On Jealousy

I am not shy about my baby envy, and it is ugly. I have the urge to punch women with babies in the subway. Instead, I sometimes am my worst self and give them a nasty look for no reason, and at other times I’m a not as bad self and I look away and turn up my podcast. I’ve made excuses to leave the room when co-workers bring in their newborns. I’ve skipped baby showers, and I unabashedly unfollow every single person that posts a pregnancy announcement on Facebook.

Then something new happened. A friend,  more than a friend, a person who is part of my chosen family, texted to let me know she was pregnant. Yes, I had one good cry in one of the soundproof telephone boxes at my office. But, strangely, although I was jealous and sad for myself, I was so happy for her. I was so happy that I called to share her joy and get every single detail. Instead of the urge to pull away, I wanted to take part in this joy. After that call, the jealousy melted away. It would have been ok if it didn’t, but it did. I wanted to be part of this process for this person that means so much to me, even though I knew it might be painful at times.

Then a week later, I got another text. She miscarried. I was so sad. I wanted to be there to support her in her grief (we live in different cities). But I also had a new anxiety unfold during my evening commute. I know that miscarriages are common, and most women who have them go on to have healthy pregnancies. But all I could think about was the beginning of our journey. You start out so hopeful. Then one thing goes wrong, one fairly normal thing. For us, it was just that we didn’t get pregnant month after month. You don’t know that you’re one of the ones who will have to struggle toward parenthood. Not yet. It slowly dawns on you piece by piece after tests and treatments and months slip by. My friend will probably get pregnant again soon, and I can’t wait to celebrate with her when it happens.

I don’t believe that there is a purpose when bad things happen (other than the purpose we create for ourselves). I don’t believe that life is fair or somehow cosmically balanced.  But on the evening commute all I could think about was, don’t let this turn into anything else for them. I’m already going through this struggle. I’m handling it (barely), just let me keep handling it, and spare my friend. I know the universe doesn’t work that way, so I’ll rely instead on the numbers (probability and statistics) and on the hope that I carry for myself and for her.

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