Losing Amy has brought something out in me that I don’t like at all – jealousy. And this jealousy is not your garden-variety envy, this is a cruel, snide jealousy. A jealousy that says over and over, your sadness is not as big as mine. Your loss not as terrible. Your worries unfounded. It’s emphatically not nice.
Sometimes, it’s the kind of jealousy you or I or anyone would understand. A mother pushing a clearly newborn baby in a stroller. A woman in normal, natural labor at 40 weeks, signing into Labor & Delivery. A friend’s photo of their healthy, very much alive, new child. A 37 weeks pregnant friend excited that her husband is assembling the crib. A friend who complains about how “difficult” it is to raise a child. Of course I’m jealous of those things, right? Of course I get a little teary, sometimes.
But it’s so much darker than that. I am jealous of women who have only had early miscarriages. Women mourning their own pregnancy losses, and all I think is, that would have been easier. I wouldn’t have known we were having a girl. I wouldn’t have registered anywhere, bought maternity clothes, gone to Babies ‘R Us to look at car seats. I didn’t have such specific dreams yet then. It would have been easier. But does that make them less sad? Do I need to view them through my “you don’t know what loss is” lens? What is this, a competition?
I am jealous of women who have premature babies who live. I think people who are worried about making it past 32 weeks are greedy. That’s absurd. That’s ridiculous. It is not safe for babies to be born before 37 weeks. These babies have to stay in NICU, undergo surgeries and treatments, their parents worried all the time. The difference of course is that these babies will probably live. That we got screwed, that we spent days desperately hoping for 26 weeks, has changed our perspective. For us, next time, anything past 28 weeks will just look like a bonus. A blessing. Gravy. But 28 weeks isn’t all that great. It’s just better than we got. Why wouldn’t a parent be worried about her 32 week old son? Of course she would. She should. It’s not fair, the things I think.
I am jealous of women who already have live children. Whatever kind of loss you’ve had – early miscarriage, late miscarriage, stillbirth, anything – they have a living child, and of that, I am jealous. My sadness feels greater, I am not mourning just one particular child but hopes, dreams, plans. To be a family. To raise a child. They still get to have those parts, in fact have already known them, just not with this particular child. And I think I’m probably right, that that does make it easier, because they haven’t lost those things, and I have. But they’ve still lost a hell of a lot. What an awful thing to be jealous of. And yet, I am.
And then there is the most horrible of all – I am jealous of people whose children have died later. Not like, 10 years later, but months. Even weeks. Days. They speak of their loss the exact same way that I do, the same way I feel, but still I am jealous, because they got to at least know their child, at least a little bit. At least for a while. And I wish I’d had that, even if the end result was the same. I would have loved to know Amy, if only for a little while.
It’s not right, and it’s not fair, and it makes me feel like a horrible person. But these thoughts come to my mind, unbidden, all the time. What purpose does this serve, comparing my pain to others? Does it matter, who is more sad? My incredible sadness doesn’t take away someone else’s right to be incredibly sad over something slightly different, but just as awful.