I remember after Maddie was born, I had to go shopping to get clothes that fit and supplies to help me pump and store my breast milk. At the maternity store I saw two women giggling excitedly over belly panel jeans and tiny onesies. At the baby supplies store there were women with freshly born babies nestled securely in slings. That’s the first time I felt jealously in a way I never had before.

I did my best to keep it under wraps during Madeline’s time in the NICU, but it was so hard. Other families would come and go while we remained. I’d get off the elevator to go to the NICU and pass a husband pushing his wife in a wheelchair, baby firmly pressed to her chest. I often walked into the NICU crying, thankful that the NICU nurses understood.

I thought I’d be safe at my OB appointments, surrounded by other high risk women with altered perspectives. But Dr. Risky shares her waiting room with several doctors and midwives. I can always pick out the other high risk patients amongst the regular pregnant ladies. They have the same blank eyes and white knuckles. We exchange thin smiles. They are jealous, too.

It’s a hard thing to admit. I don’t want to be jealous. I want that blissful pregnancy where I’m not constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I want to be pregnant and assume I’ll get a healthy baby after nine months. I want to see children playing with their parents and not have to look away. I want Maddie to be playing with her friends instead of having to watch them grow older without her. I want my old life back. I want my daughter back.

I am jealous of everyone, and sometimes it’s very very ugly.