My green eyes

February 5, 2009

Dear and darling little SIL,

I know you have a good, kind heart. I know you aren’t being willfully ignorant, and that you have some idea of what we’re going through. N and I will never forget how you drove up with his brother to see us in Oregon when Teddy was born. It was a long drive, with a sad welcome, and I know it took courage to do that, to be there with us during that time.

You’re due in March, and this is happy news. Your pregnancy is going well, we’ve seen the ultrasound pics on your Christmas card, we’ve heard about the nursery. I understand wanting to share happiness, but I can only take yours in measured doses right now.

You “friended” me on Face.book, and it was kind of you. I know you the least well of N’s family, and thought getting to know you better, even in a shallow online sort of way would be nice. I was stupid.

Of course you’re posting ultrasound pics, and belly pics, and nursery pics. Of course you’re talking about how anxious you are about delivery and about how, after that, everything will be fine. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I’m scared for you because babies die. And I’m so jealous I can feel my eyes filling up with bright green venom every time I see a new photo story about your expected little boy.   He will take Teddy’s place with the larger family – first boy grandchild, only not really the first. First living boy grandchild. I am trying not to hate you for that, and I hate myself for not always succeeding.

And I’m scared for you. For a long time, I thought everything would be fine, too. And you’ve seen what can happen, or at least, one of the things that can happen.

Perhaps because you witnessed us during such a hard and profound time I expect too much of you. Surely you saw our hearts breaking; surely you saw, with your own eyes, that some pregnancies end in heartbreak. With the best of me, I hope your’s doesn’t. With the best of me, I admit that I am jealous of your happy assurance that bad things only happen to people who aren’t you.

With the worst of me, well, I don’t want to put that into words, not tonight.

Take care, and understand that I may be avoiding you for some time, in a cyber sort of way. I used to wish I had green eyes, but lately I am trying very hard to hang on to my blue ones.


  1. I do have green eyes and I am definitely a green eyed monster. So much of what you write wrings true today. Just replace your SIL with any given number of people in my life right now. Most of them though, in the last couple of months, have already gone on to those happy endings you and I and everyone else here can only dream of. It is not fair Erica. I’m so, so sorry.

  2. I have been there with the jealousy and fear. Even with a new baby, I feel the jealousy, because I’ll always be missing one.

  3. I understand where you are coming from with the ‘place in the larger family’

  4. My SIL is due in March too! So much of what you said I could have written myself, particularly about the place this child will take in the larger family. In our case, she & I are BOTH studiously avoiding each other right now. I am green-eyed with jealousy & stressed beyond belief about meeting this baby.

  5. Oh Erica, I’m so, so sorry.

    I’ve been there, am there.

    It’s just so, so unfair.

  6. Two of my three SILs are pregnant at the moment. It’s fascinating to me because N’s sister has been so thoughtful in telling us, so concerned about how we feel about her very new pregnancy, so understanding when we aren’t especially cheerful about her happiness.

    The SIL of this post – well maybe she just doesn’t want to deal with the sad stuff, or maybe she’s more scared than she lets on and is trying to be extra-positive in order to make herself feel better. Or maybe she just doesn’t get it. None of these things make her a bad person, but I need to give myself permission to filter her news.

    And the thought that Teddy will be replaced (that’s what it feels like) in the family by this other little boy hurts so much right now. I wish I had a little more reassurance that he’d be remembered and loved outside of my tiny immediate family, that he’d still have a place, even though he can’t be physically with us.

  7. You know what I recently discovered you can do on Face.book? Un-friend people. It’s easy, and unless someone who had you on their list looks to see if you’re still there, they’ll never know. Maybe that could help filter out some of the news that is so painful?

  8. You have articulated (so well!) many of my own thoughts and experiences with pregnant loved ones. It is so tough to feel these feelings. And tougher still to keep them from consuming me while I congratulate all of these people on their gorgeous living babies.

    If you would rather not un-friend your SIL on Facebook, you can still tell FB to de-emphasize her news for you (scroll to the bottom of your news page and select “Options for News Feed.”) That has worked for me.

  9. I just want to press fast forward for you, a few years down the road. I know it wouldn’t bring your little one back, but getting through the pregnancies and births of others in the first year after your child dies is really some of the worst there is. I’m so sorry.
    -K- (In Oregon!)

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