Sunday, September 22, 2019
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E is for Envy (Happy for you and sad for me)

In my last A to Z post, I did f instead of e, because, well, f was more appropriate considering how I was feeling. Now, I’m picking up what I skipped by talking about something that seems to be very common, but often misunderstood.

Grief + Envy = Anger.

E is for EnvyAfter I lost Calvin, it was really hard to look at babies, even if they were family. It was also really difficult to see pregnant women, who seemed to be wherever I went: walking down the street, at work, in stores, everywhere. I would have fantasies of pushing them down or stretching my arms out and tornado punching them as I passed through and moved them out of my way. I would joke about knocking toddlers over in the playground across the street from my apartment. I didn’t really wish anyone harm, but I was angry. There are different types of anger, and this one was jealousy. I envied these women and the life they carried. It was hard to see those babies and toddlers, cooing, playing, laughing, when I would never see that with my son.

Grief + Envy = Despair.

E is for EnvyWhen I lost Rainbow, the angry jealousy had already fallen away, and the hurt was exposed. Looking at babies and expectant mothers didn’t make me want to lash out. It made me want to fall into a pile of tears.

I know that children are gift, that pregnancy is a blessing… that’s why it’s so painful.

For a brief few weeks, I had hope again. I believed that I would get to keep this blessing longer and that in the end I would receive the gift of a living child. But that was ripped away from me.

Grief + Envy = Hopeless Resignation.

Then, we couldn’t get pregnant, and I had to watch while it seemed like almost every woman I knew got pregnant with her rainbow baby. Every new announcement pierced my heart until it turned into a pin cushion. Here’s the thing: it’s not that I wanted them to move from grief to infertility. It’s just that each We’re pregnant! was a reminder of what I had lost twice over and what I wasn’t sure I could ever have.

Grief + Envy = Happy for You, Sad for Me.

E is for EnvyThat brings me to now and losing Gaelen, who was my birthday surprise, who I hoped would be my earth baby. But that’s not how it happened.

My MUA appointment was on the exact same day and at the exact time, March 24 at 9am, as my sister-in-law’s appointment to be induced. The next morning, when I woke up to the text message from my mother-in-law with Nathalia’s time of birth and weight, I cried. I am happy that she is here. I am happy that my sister-in-law had a safe delivery. I am happy that my in-laws finally have a grandchild to hold in their arms. I am happy for my sisters. I am happy for all mommies who are pregnant, who are able to hold their children.

But I am also hurting. And I can’t be happy for them with all that I have, just with what I have left. The rest of me, I need for myself, for my babies, for my husband. I’m thankful that I am surrounded by people who respect this. From my sisters, who don’t question when we decline birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese; to our friend who acknowledged that we might not be ready to meet her daughter; to my sister-in-law, who cried as she told us, It’s okay to feel bad. I feel bad for your guys. I thought of you the whole time, after she came home from delivering her baby.

Grief + Envy + Time + Respect = Progress.

Seeing pregnant women, seeing mothers with their babies, it still affects me on a visceral level. But even with losing Gaelen being so recent, I no longer feel anger towards them. They don’t make me want to crumple into a sobbing mess anymore, either (at least not all the time). Part of it, I think is time—not so much that time “heals,” but that time has given me room to adjust, and I’m still doing that. Another part of it is that I finally feel like more people respect, if not understand, what we’re going through, and they are allowing us the space we need. Maybe it’s time on their part, too, that has allowed them to see this. Maybe part of it is that you can’t argue three losses in a row with “life goes on” and “just have another one.” Either way, I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful to be in a place where the sting of my envy isn’t so sharp.

Have you experienced envy after a loss?

How did it manifest itself? Did it transform as time passed?

This post is a part of a series called Unpacking Grief, which I began as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

crystal
Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

0 thoughts on “E is for Envy (Happy for you and sad for me)

  1. From the time I was a little girl, I loved babies! I knew my reason for living was to be a Mother. But after I got married, I assumed having a baby was just something that would just happen. Year after year, it got more difficut. I saw friends having babies, even those who were not trying. Those hurt the worse. I stopped attending baby showers at work and declined birthday party invitations for our friends children. They were just too painful. Like you, I saw pregnant women everywhere. It’s like they were following me trying to push thier big, beautiful bellies right in my face.

    Then it finally happened for me. I was overjoyed! But, my joy was short-lived and my pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Then the pain of seeing all those babies and pregnant women everywhere was even more unbearable. No one seemed to understand the pain, except for the dear friends (like you) who I met on BBC.

    And when it finally happened again about a year later, I was terrified. When you experience a loss before a living child, it robs you of the complete joy a woman should be able to have throughout her entire pregnancy. Ever twinge, every ache, every pain had me so on edge I couldn’t ever just relax.

    I now have a beautiful baby girl and am so thankful for her. But, my best friend gave birth to her son just 2 days before my Due Date for my first pregnancy and everytime I see pictures of her son, my heart sinks a little remembering that my child should be doing all the things he is and it still hurts.

    I pray for you Crystal. I pray that God will give you the Earth Child your heart desires. The Earth Child that will be so blessed to have you for it’s Mother. The child that you deserve more than any other woman I know. Thank you for always sharing your heart, even though it hurts, and for being there to help so many others through their grief. You are a wonderful and special person!!

    1. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your story here. I just assumed the same… that once I wanted to have a baby, I would have a baby. I never thought that I wouldn’t be able… and with the challenges of Calvin’s pregnancy, I never thought I would lose him. Even with my fears about Rainbow, and then the terror with Gaelen, I don’t think I ever believed they wouldn’t come home with and I still dared to hope. But I definitely feel like I was robbed of that complete, innocent joy. I hope that seeing your friend’s son will become less painful and, eventually, can become a connection to your first baby that has softened to longing.

  2. It makes a big difference when family members and friends become more sensitive to your feelings. I like the way you analyzed how you felt and of course, us BLM’s can relate to each of those…. grief and envy, grief and anger, … yes, there were reasons behind each of those feelings.

  3. Dear Crystal!! I so understand the envy, angry, jealousy. I miscarried Oct 2009, and it seems that every woman in our little town was pregnant or carrying a newborn that year! I hated going to the grocery store. One day I ran into THREE from the time I walked in the door till just walking across the front of the store!! (maybe 2 minutes?) And then there was Christmas, and celebration of yet another Baby. 🙁 Grieving with you now for Gaelen. And hoping, praying for you to have a baby in your arms some day. <3

  4. Wow, I could have written this! I don’t really have anything to add because I have felt all of the same feelings you have felt, in pretty much the same order. I’ve had 3 losses too.

  5. I am so glad you’re writing this…your honesty is such a gift…a heartwrenching gift. But, I know that other moms who are hurting…walking this canyon of sorrow can relate.

    Yes…to answer your question. I have struggled with envy. Very intense envy after my twin daughters died. The next month, twin daughters were born to my step brother and his wife. Twin daughters with dark hair…filling someone else’s arms and not mine. I walked into my mother’s house and saw two little dresses laying there for them and it stabbed me in the heart and tore my guts to pieces. My mother relieved her ache by filling her arms with those little girls, while I still ached for mine. She wasn’t wrong. Those girls needed loved and deserved pretty little dresses. But, my pain was bigger than anything else, and I just couldn’t look upon it without feeling ripped to shreds.

    Over the years, I feel something different when I see those girls. The longing is there…yes. But, the envy has subsided for the most part. I see them now as a reminder of what my Faith and Grace would look like if they were here. What they would be doing. It still stings some, but they are a gift. Their lives are precious. Her twins and mine.

    I still struggle a bit with many things little girl. The baby department, Easter dresses, little girl accessories. But, it is more longing for what I miss these days and less envy. We can’t always help what we feel. But, we can pour it all out at our Savior’s feet, trusting Him to carry us through it all.

    One more area I struggled with envy was after we lost Thomas and thought Timothy would never have a sibling. I envied families that had more than one child. Families who could celebrate pregnancy without fear. I still long for what we are missing, and suppose I always will from time to time. But, the envy has subsided.

    Praying for you…and sending much love.

    And…you know….I get it. And, I love you, dear friend.

    1. Kelly, thank you so much for your honesty. Sometimes, I feel guilty about not being able to fully share in the joys and just want to hide from the awkwardness. I think my envy has started to transform into longing; it’s not quite there, yet, but it’s nice to know that it can (and will through His grace). Thank you for reminding me that He can take all that we are struggling with and carry us through.

  6. Your writing today, is right on with what happens with multiple loss. Although my story is different from yours. Even though I had living children, I still had very similar feelings as you did and do. I am praying for you always, I do respect your pain and the magnitude of it. When we had our fourth loss, which was the molar pregnancy, and it involved my health, and testing for almost a year, I think that is when people finally started respecting my pain. They thought, “well she already has all those kids, what is her problem?” Hardly anyone gave me the right to grieve. And after Blaze died, no one wanted me to try to have another baby because of the Trisomy 18, and considered me selfish for doing so because I already had children. But, I did what I had to do, and that was all that mattered. I still have heartache over the fact that both of my boys are in Heaven, and I will never raise a son. I can’t tell that out loud too often, no one wants to hear it, because I have 4 beautiful girls. Each mom who has lossed a baby always has the ache. Time does not heal. I feel it’s what you do with your time, that heals. I love what you are doing. You are beautiful soul. xxoo

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Kristin. I’m sorry that it’s hard for you mention your grief over your losses, because you have living children. That doesn’t take away from the missing at all. Thanks so much for your encouragement. ((hugs))

  7. Sending you hugs. I wish I could be with you to try and help. I can’t even imagine how much pain you have had over the last few years. I had one loss and that was hard enough, but three? You are a much stronger woman than you realise. Keep heart and you Will have your earth baby. Of that I have no doubt. Xxxxxx

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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