When a New Envy Rises

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I thought I was done with it. Done with the surge of jealousy, the searing resentment that would boil whenever I saw a pregnant woman at the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, or anywhere (everywhere). I envied her seeming not-knowing, her innocence of all the terrible ways that a blissful pregnancy could end.

The jealousy was one of many facets of that wretched new normal that everyone in the babyloss and grief communities is always talking about. Things are not as they once were, and we can never turn back.

But now I’m twenty-six months out from our first child’s stillbirth, two years and two months, and our rainbow is a happy sixteen month old who fills my life with a light so beautiful that my heart can hardly bear it.

And there has been healing, too. I can pass pregnant women in the grocery aisles and wish them well, hoping that I never meet them in our local babyloss support group. I see families cherishing tiny newborns and I no longer scowl at them, coveting what they have, what had almost been mine with our daughter who died before she breathed.

Two years and two months in this life after stillbirth is what it takes to leave the jealousy behind. Two years and two months, and the envy no longer surges.

Or does it?

I thought I was done. Thought I was okay, that I had achieved full acceptance. That is one of the so-called steps of grief, after all.

But recently a new form of envy has risen. It’s not the swollen bellies this time, and not the mewling cry of a newborn reaching my ears. It’s not a torturous trip past the infant section at Target, or saccharine baby ads on the television.

Instead, I find that I am jealous of first-time mothers and fathers. Whatever rocky or smooth road they may have traveled since they saw that positive pregnancy test to the crowning, groaning joy of birth, they have a living baby in their arms. Death did not rip their firstborn and their own innocence away. Fear does not now shadow their family, or their future pregnancies, or their children’s lives. They have not learned how easily, how silently catastrophe can shatter all that is sacred.

And – I am jealous. I would not wish their child’s death upon them, not ever . . . and yet I am jealous.

I am jealous of the mother whose initiation into the rite of birth was not marked by gasping, gaping maw of heartache.

I am jealous of the mother whose hospital room was not filled with her baby’s silence.

I am jealous of the mother whose pregnancy did not end with self-doubt and shame so thick, so heavy she could hardly lift her eyelids against it to meet the stunned gazes of her loved ones as they filed, numb, past her tomb of a birthing bed.

I am jealous of the mother who did not lose countless hours of sleep in the unforgiving night to the empty arms.

I am jealous of the mother whose postpartum discharge orders did not involve funeral parlors and grief counselors.

I am jealous of the mother who can drive by the hospital or her obstetrician’s office without the PTSD prickle of memory creeping cold up the back of her neck.

I am jealous of the mother whose voice never hitches in her throat when she is asked how many children she has. I am jealous of the mother who has never known the discomfort of telling the truth, or the pain of not.

I am jealous of the mother who doesn’t know, doesn’t know, doesn’t know (how could I not know what was coming, those two years and two months ago), and –

oh God, I envy that mother’s innocence, her naïve joy so damn much it shreds my crimson insides raw all over again, and just when I thought I was healed, done with the bloodiest part of all this shit, moving on.

To the new mother enjoying the blissful exhaustion of your firstborn – I am happy for you. I am so grateful that you have never known this pain, the confusion of grief, and that ache that subsides but never fully heals. I do not begrudge you your joy. I am glad that you, unlike so many of us, were not handed the drenched and bleeding blanket of grief to wrap yourself in instead of wrapping your baby up in your arms.

And yet, I envy you. This is one of the too-many paradoxes of life after stillbirth. I might apologize if all this was anything less than the truth.

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Beth About Beth

Beth Morey is the mixed media artist behind Epiphany Art Studio . Her soulful and whimsical creations are born out of the griefs, joys, and not-knowings of life. She is also the founder of Made , an online course exploring the intersection of faith and art, and the author of the creative healing workbook, Life After Eating Disorder. Beth loves meeting new friends through her blog , where she writes about faith, creativity, and life after stillbirth. She lives in Montana with the Best Husband Ever, their rainbow son, and their three naughty dogs. You can find Beth at Epiphany Art Studio — www.epiphanyartstudio.etsy.com or at her blog, www.bethmorey.com. You can also see her work at
Life After Eating Disorder -- http://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Eating-Disorder-Have/dp/1478105453/


  1. You really nailed it. I am still not that far along in my grieving process, I lost my daughter only 7 months ago, but I know the feeling about friends around me having their first baby. I know I will never have the same joyful pregnancy and birth as they do. It’s very sad…

  2. I am thankful for you and your honesty. You have a gift in articulating pain, the kind that’s difficult for most to give voice to. Thank you for giving voice to this.

  3. Narelle Griffiths says:

    Thank you so much for writing this, we only lost our little boy Logan almost 5 weeks ago and I am just learning how to breathe again. I still feel the resentment and I hesitate to say anger towards women who are pregnant and carrying tiny little babies. Most of all I am angry about our situations, no parent should EVER have to walk out of a hospital with empty arms and a pamphlet for funeral homes. No mother should ever have to hear the words “I’m sorry, I cannot find your babies heartbeat” and no mother should ever have to birth the tiny little person she spent her whole life waiting for and was so excited about once she saw those two little lines on a pregnancy test.
    I know that NOTHING will replace Logan but I am living in hope for our Rainbow baby, to maybe bring some healing for us and our oldest son.
    All my love and thoughts to all of the baby loss mummy’s and daddy’s out there.

  4. Wow, Thank you so much for writing this. I just lost triplets at 20 weeks, 3 weeks ago. I know I am still at the beginning of my grief. But your words rang so true. Thank you again.

  5. MattandAndrewsMom says:

    We share a common history with the feelings you describe, particularly as I work in a hospital filled with pregnancy, newborns and their families. My vision would be filled with their joyful images, only to be squandered with a Code call (a neonatal or maternal emergency). These calls would, and still do, throw me off my game. My perspective shifted completely after viewing a mandatory you tube video called ” Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care – by the Cleveland Clinic”. While in tears after watching this, and being late for my next patient as my eyes were swollen and red, there was considerable growth in my healing. I hope you are able to view in with similar intentions.



  6. Thank you for those words! They make me feel normal! I’m not the only one who has thought that way!

  7. I hear you .. The endless Instagram pictures of pregnancy bliss … As I grieve 3 months without my first born son.. Passed at 33 weeks +6 days .. Life and pregnancy will never be the same ….. People move on so fast …. Do I stop following them for my own piece of mind … I’d never wish my journey on my worst enemy … Thank you for you honest words … I digest every word with real understanding … These baby loss blog community means so much for my sanity :)…

    • I’m so sorry, Alana…if it helps you with your decision, I did unfollow all of my friends who were expecting/had new babies after my daughter’s stillbirth. The nice thing about Facebook in particular is that you can unfollow without unfriending, but I unsubscribed from blogs, unfollowed on Instagram, etc. It wasn’t permanent — I now follow all those people I unfollowed at the time — but it was needed. I personally didn’t see any point in making life any harder for myself than it already was. Biggest hugs. Do what you need to do to survive, as long as it’s safe and you’re okay with it.

  8. I actually think envy is not enough spoken about or have I maybe missed it?
    Also, given my (unhelpful) beliefs about envy it is a “bad” emotion to have so I struggle and judge myself every time I feel it.
    Just today, I felt this awkward sting when my friend with her newborn had her 2+ year old standing on a board attached to her pram and my daughter squealed: “I want to stand on the board too.”
    I heard myself say: “Yes, that would be nice or it would have been nice to push the twin pram we bought with you and your sister…”
    Thank you Beth, always love your honest words.
    PS. I just wrote a post mid January about the same topic here: http://hopeforpassion.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/jealousyenvy/

    • I think it’s so interesting that emotions are assigned as “bad” or “good.” Certainly envy is uncomfortable. But bad? I don’t think it is…it’s what we do with it that makes it “bad” or “good.” Big hugs. I wish you had both your twins here.

  9. Thank you for this. Your words speak directly to my heart. My son was stillborn at 42 weeks gestation 27 months ago. Two months after delivering our son my sister in law gave birth to twins. I have always denied envy when, even two years later, I visit the babies and ache for my son. As others have commented, I too associate envy with being “bad” and something to stuff away as it must only belong to bad people. Thank you for bravely sharing the pain of your experience and insightful perspective.

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